The Joyce Foundation supports the development of policies that both improve the quality of life for people in the Great Lakes region and serve as models for the rest of the country. We focus on today’s most pressing problems while also informing the public policy decisions critical to creating opportunity and achieving long-term solutions. The work is based on sound research and is focused on where we can add the most value. We encourage innovative and collaborative approaches with a regional focus and the potential for a national reach.
Foundations are uniquely positioned to inform and impact the world around us. They can provide leadership and funding to advance social and public policy issues separate from the political process. By pulling together partnerships, resources and research to address pressing issues, foundations can help improve lives and communities.
The Joyce Foundation was established in 1948 by Beatrice Joyce Kean of Chicago. She was the sole heir of the Joyce family, of Clinton, Iowa. The family wealth came from the lumber industry, including family-owned timberlands, plywood and saw mills, and wholesale and retail building material distribution facilities located in the Midwest, Louisiana, and Texas.
When Mrs. Kean died in December 1972, the Foundation received more than $100 million, the overwhelming majority of her estate. Kent F. Peterson, who had been an executive of the family-owned Tremont Lumber Company, was named president. Within the next four years, annual giving rose from less than $100,000 at the time of Mrs. Kean’s death to $10 million in 1976. As of December 2014, the Foundation has more than $950 million in assets.
Over time, the Foundation’s mission has evolved while maintaining its focus on public policies that benefit the Great Lakes community. For the first quarter century of its work, the Foundation awarded grants to health organizations and hospitals. Currently, the Foundation's grant making focuses on education, employment, the environment, gun violence, democracy, and culture.