Ford Foundation, philanthropic institution, established (1936) in Michigan by Henry Ford and his son, Edsel, for the general purpose of advancing human welfare. Until 1950 the foundation was involved in local philanthropic activities, mainly aiding the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and the Edison Institute of Dearborn. Since 1950, after receiving the bulk of the estates of Henry Ford, his wife, and Edsel, the foundation has engaged in broad philanthropic work from its New York City headquarters. It is one of the largest philanthropic trusts in the world. By 1998 it had assets of about $9.5 billion, and disbursed approximately $517 million in grants. The foundation's stated goals are to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. The Ford Foundation's involvement in controversial programs, such as its establishment (1951) of the civil rights and civil liberties oriented Fund for the Republic, drew criticism from conservatives and led to a congressional investigation. In attempting to maintain flexibility in its operations, the foundation concentrates on aiding efforts for the initial attack on problems, leaving the follow-up action to other institutions.
See D. Macdonald, The Ford Foundation (1956 repr. 1988); study by R. Magat (1979).
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