More than 70 years of investing in the Great Lakes region.
The Joyce Foundation is rooted in the rich terrain of the Great Lakes.
For almost three quarters of a century, it has invested in improving the lives, livelihoods and well-being of the region’s people. The timeline below highlights how the Foundation has evolved over the decades.
Beatrice Joyce Kean, sole heir of the Joyce family, establishes the Foundation with a $2,000 gift.
Ninety percent of Joyce Kean’s estate is bequeathed to the Foundation upon her death, an amount in excess of $100 million. Professional staff is hired to manage it.
Family estate in northern Minnesota, known as Nopeming, is sold to the Nature Conservancy.
Higher education and cultural institutions are added as major beneficiaries, in addition to hospitals and health organizations. Nature Conservancy is granted $500,000 to preserve Nopeming.
Annual giving reaches $10 million.
First independent board member is named – Marion Trufant Hall, a botanist who is director of the Morton Arboretum.
Joyce becomes the largest foundation in Illinois at the time. Board is expanded and professional financial advisers are retained.
First annual report is published under President Charles U. Daly, identifying programmatic interests in culture, education, environment and conservation, government, and health and social services in the Midwest. Focus begins on longer term research and policy development.
Environment program makes 10-year, $20 million commitment to conserving Great Lakes water and Midwest soil. Foundation begins giving to Midwest higher education causes.
Culture program identifies goal of making arts available to underserved communities. By early 1990s, expanded to creating opportunities for artists and arts administrators of color.
Education program begins investing in improving urban public schools and educational opportunities for underserved students. Democracy program refocuses on improving policies related to campaign finance and voting.
Two institutions are funded and launched to track education reform: Catalyst Chicago, an influential newsmagazine, and the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research.
Environment program begins focusing on electricity generation and conservation.
Grant-making begins for research and policy development in preventing gun violence, and for treating it as public health issue. Democracy program begins focus on influence of money in politics.
Barack Obama, a University of Chicago law school lecturer and community organizer, joins the board. (1994-2002)
Joyce supports creation of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research (today the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Prevention and Policy).
National Violent Death Reporting System is launched with Joyce funds.
Three “Millenium Initiatives” are introduced to mark the turn of century, including support for a Chicago Climate Exchange.
The Joyce Awards are announced, funding cultural institutions to commission new works by artists of color – the only arts prize dedicated to honoring artists across the Midwest.
Education program begins to focus on teacher quality and effectiveness.
“Shifting Gears Initiative” is launched, coordinating adult basic education, workforce development and community and technical college systems to better serve low-skilled workers.
Joyce funds the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.
Army Corps of Engineers is funded to study options for separating Great Lakes watershed from Mississippi River system, an option in preventing invasive Asian carp from reaching the lakes.
Foundation assets top $1 billion for the first time.
Under President Ellen Alberding, Foundation mission updated to promote racial equity and economic mobility for the next generation in the Great Lakes region.
Gun violence prevention portfolio is expanded to include criminal justice reform, Education and Economic Mobility programs are merged, Democracy program shifts to focus on fair elections, voting rights, and public interest media.