A $5 million endowment for the creation of the J. Wayne Leonard Poverty, Climate Change and Social Justice Fund was announced Friday by Entergy Corp. in honor of J. Wayne Leonard, retiring chairman and chief executive officer of the company.

“Wayne has been a passionate advocate on each of these issues during his years at Entergy, so we could think of no better way to honor him than by creating the J. Wayne Leonard Poverty, Climate Change and Social Justice Fund,” Leo Denault, who will assume the role of Entergy’s chairman and CEO when Leonard retires Thursday, said in a news release.

The fund will provide grants to organizations involved in addressing climate change, poverty and social justice in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont and Michigan, wrote Michael Burns, corporate and national media relations person with Entergy.

The money comes from shareholder-funded donations to the Entergy Charitable Foundation, which means the corporation will make donations to the fund periodically until it reaches $5 million, Burns wrote.

Leonard has been Entergy CEO since 1999 and during his time the company donated more than $50 million to help address cycles of poverty including improving early childhood education programs, according to the press release.

“Under Leonard’s leadership, in 2001 Entergy became the first utility in the U.S. to commit to voluntarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Entergy performed better than promised, cutting carbon emissions by 455.5 million tons through 2011, 12.6 percent better than its goal,” according to a news release from Entergy.

Leonard will serve as an adviser to the foundation board.