Ford Foundation

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The Ford Foundation is a private foundation incorporated in Michigan and based in New York City created to fund programs that were chartered in 1936 by Edsel Ford and Henry Ford.

The foundation makes grants through its New York headquarters and through twelve international field offices. In fiscal year 2007, it reported assets of $13.7 billion and approved $530 million in grants[1] for projects that focused on strengthening democratic values, community and economic development, education, media, arts and culture, and human rights.[2]



The Ford Foundation was chartered on January 15, 1936 in Michigan by Edsel Ford and two Ford Motor Company executives "to receive and administer funds for scientific, educational and charitable purposes, all for the public welfare".[3] During its early years, the foundation operated in Michigan under the leadership of Ford family members and their associates, and supported such organizations as the Henry Ford Hospital, Greenfield Village and Henry Ford Museum, among others.

After the deaths of Edsel Ford in 1943 and Henry Ford in 1947, the presidency of the Ford Foundation fell to Edsel's eldest son, Henry Ford II. Under Henry Ford II's leadership, the Ford Foundation board of trustees commissioned a report to determine how the foundation should continue. The committee, headed by California attorney H. Rowan Gaither, recommended that the foundation should commit to promoting peace, freedom, and education throughout the world. It provided funding for various projects, including the pre-existing network, National Educational Television, which went on the air in 1952. However, the Ford Foundation, with the help of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting shut it down and replaced it with the Public Broadcasting Service in October 1970. The board of directors decided to diversify the foundation's portfolio and gradually divested itself of its substantial Ford Motor Company stock between 1956 and 1974. Through this divestiture, the Ford Motor Company became a public company in 1956.

Other than its name, the Ford Foundation has not had any connections to the Ford Motor Company nor the Ford family for over thirty years. Henry Ford II, the last family member on the board of trustees, resigned from the foundation board in 1976, encouraging foundation staff to remain open to new ideas and work to strengthen the country’s economic system.

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