About the Foundation
The Heckscher Foundation was founded in 1921 to promote the welfare of children in the State of New York and elsewhere throughout the United States. Its history is a multifaceted story involving three principal participants: Charles August Heckscher (1848–1941), a financial titan and visionary who believed that wealth should be shared with others less fortunate, Arthur Smadbeck (1887–1977), a friend and fellow philanthropist who constructed an endowment for the Foundation and made possible its emergence as a major benefactor, and Ruth Smadbeck (1900-1986), who ran the Foundation for over 50 years. Today the Heckscher Foundation provides monetary support for youth-serving organizations in the fields of education, family services, job training, child welfare, health and recreation.
The primary aim of the Heckscher Foundation’s grantmaking is to “level the playing field” for needy youth by providing access to education and the varied experiences that make for a richer, forward-reaching life. It seeks to identify under-funded issues or projects that can provide widespread benefit, generate other engagement and funding, and then help leverage that interest to scale. The Foundation also seeks to incubate ideas and initiatives that will lead to high-impact services and improved opportunities.
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Chairman and CEO
Peter was elected Chairman of the Board in 1996. Since 1997, Foundation assets have increased from $37 million to well over $300 million. Deeply committed to enhancing educational opportunities for young people in New York and elsewhere, Peter has a long history in senior management capacities in non-profit organizations dedicated to nurturing youth of diverse backgrounds.
Heckscher Foundation in the News:
- Creating a Culture of Mentorship Among Young Professionals — It Starts With Senior Management (Philanthropy News Digest, May 1, 2015)
- New York Public Schools Fund, Under Mayor de Blasio, Struggles to Secure Donations (New York Times, May 12, 2015)
- A Mission to Serve New York City’s Neediest Children (The Wall Street Journal, May 29, 2015)
- ‘Investment Club’ of Foundations Pays Off for Nonprofits (The Chronicle of Philanthropy, June 1, 2015)
- Tools to get you through the NYC high school admissions process (AM New York, July 12, 2015)
- Scaling Back on Scaling: Assessing whether and how to grow for social profit (Grant Craft, September 15, 2015)
- NYC Neighborhood Library Awards to Include New Heckscher Prize for Outstanding Service to Children and Youth (Press Release, April 15, 2016)
- Jerome Park Library in the Bronx to Receive First Ever Heckscher Prize for Outstanding Service to Children and Youth (Press Release, June 7, 2016)
- Nurturing Nonprofit Boards: Funders Can Do More (Grant Craft, July 18, 2016)