The Odyssey Foundation is a private family foundation founded by Dr. Frank Roberts, grandson of U.G. Orendorff, and his wife Jean Roberts, OTR. In most cases the Foundation tries to provide grants to non-profit organizations in which a small amount of money makes a big difference. We try not to give grants which are a drop in the bucket. For example, one grant bought new computers to replace old, very outdated computers at an all-volunteer California food bank. Other grants have brought neighbors in Seattle closer together by giving them funds to renovate and make their neighborhood parks safer places to socialize and play.


Grants are primarily gifted in the Seattle, Denver, Sacramento/Bay Area and Reno/Tahoe areas, where the trustees reside.

The Foundation encourages applications from organizations that provide excellent service in a financially responsible manner to their community. Charitable donations by the Foundation will be granted in the spirit of continuing the life-long philanthropy and service to community as practiced by U.G. Orendorff in his lifetime.

Grants of the Foundation are made to organizations operated exclusively for charitable, scientific, literary, educational, healing or religious purposes.

As a general rule, the Foundation does not accept unsolicited grant applications.

Grants shall be made primarily to those organizations which have been granted federal tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Preference is given to organizations that have low administrative and overhead costs so that the majority of funds will apply to the primary need.

Preference will be given to organizations in geographic localities where one or more members of the Foundation either reside or visit frequently in order that the utilization of the funds can be more easily monitored.

The Foundation intends to remain flexible in the granting of funds from year to year. Consequently, pledge, annual, or continuing grants will be made only in unusual circumstances. We do not intend to become a line item entry in any organization’s annual budget.

The following will not be considered:

  • Applications from organizations that do not have tax-exempt status from the Federal government and applicable state government.
  • Applications for direct or indirect loans to individuals or organizations.
  • Applications that do not comply with the Foundation’s stated goals and policies.
  • Applications for payment of salaries.
  • Applications from organizations which unfairly discriminate against race, ethnic origin, sex, individuals with disabilities, or creed.


Photograph of U. G. Orendorff
U. G. Orendorff

Ulysses Grant Orendorff, or U.G. as he was called by his family and friends, was born 16 April 1865 in Canton, Illinois, the third of four sons of William and Mary Orendorff. He graduated from Canton High School in 1882. In 1886, after attending Willston Seminary in East Hampton, Massachusetts and Northern University in Evanston, Illinois, he joined his father in business at the Parlin & Orendorff Company, a plow manufacturing company in Canton, Illinois. By 1896 he was Secretary-Treasurer of the company and was managing not only the home office in Canton, but their branch plants in Kansas City, Dallas, St. Louis, Omaha, Minneapolis, and Winnipeg. The company prospered under his leadership and grew to be the largest plow manufacturing company in the world. In 1919 the company was sold to the International Harvester Company.

Journalism was also of great interest to U.G. as was evident at age 17 when he purchased a hand-powered printing press and started printing a monthly publication called “The Flea.” The name had something to do with the fleas on his pet dog which liked to sit by his side. After publishing several other small publications, he ultimately acquired and became president of the Canton Daily Ledger. He held this position until he retired in 1941.

His interests also included banking, and he was president of the First Bank & Trust Company of Canton.

He also owned several farms in the Canton area and property in several other states. U.G. organized the Illinois Central Railway Company, was founder and president of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association and was a partner in the Canton Cigar Box Factory which produced over 600,000 cigar boxes a year. He was active in many other civic and philanthropic endeavors in Fulton County.

Creation of the Odyssey Foundation in 2000 was made possible through U.G. Orendorff’s hard work, financial foresight, and wise investment decisions.

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