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institution through which private wealth is contributed and distributed for public purpose. Foundations have existed since Greek and Roman times, when they honored deities. During the Middle Ages in Europe the church had many foundations, and in the Arab lands the waqf, or pious endowment, developed with the growth of Islam. In modern times European foundations, generally smaller than their U.S. counterparts, have been closely regulated by the state (e.g., the Nobel prizes; see Nobel, Alfred BernhardNobel, Alfred Bernhard
, 1833–96, Swedish chemist and inventor. Educated in St. Petersburg, Russia, he traveled as a youth and returned to St. Petersburg in 1852 to assist his father in the development of torpedoes and mines.
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In the United States there were a few early foundations, notably those endowed by Benjamin Franklin in 1791 to provide funds for loans to "young married artificers of good character" and by James Smithson in 1846 for the establishment of the Smithsonian InstitutionSmithsonian Institution,
research and education center, mainly at Washington, D.C.; founded 1846 under the terms of the will of James Smithson of London, who in 1829 bequeathed his fortune to the United States to create an establishment for the "increase and diffusion of
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; however, it was not until after the Civil War that foundations developed rapidly. Social disintegration in the South and the establishment of early foundations such as the Peabody Education Fund and the John F. Slater Fund (both designed to provide educational opportunities for African Americans in the South) promoted the movement. The rapid growth of northern industrial enterprise in the postbellum years brought with it an accumulation of huge private fortunes. By the turn of the century, persuasive preachers of the "social gospel" urged the wealthy to meet their charitable obligations to society. Andrew CarnegieCarnegie, Andrew
, 1835–1919, American industrialist and philanthropist, b. Dunfermline, Scotland. His father, a weaver, found it increasingly difficult to get work in Scottish factories and in 1848 brought his family to Allegheny (now Pittsburgh), Pa.
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 and John D. RockefellerRockefeller, John Davison,
1839–1937, American industrialist and philanthropist, b. Richford, N.Y. He moved (1853) with his family to a farm near Cleveland and at age 16 went to work as a bookkeeper.
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, Sr., in the period 1896 to 1918, led the way in creating foundations that could distribute their enormous wealth in what was considered to be the most efficient and socially beneficent manner.

Favorable income tax laws in the 1940s further spurred philanthropic activity. During the early 1950s many American foundations were attacked by right-wing journalists and Congressmen; between 1950 and 1953 the House of Representatives conducted two separate investigations into "subversion and Communist penetration" of the nation's philanthropic foundations. Attacks on the foundations began to subside, however, with the passing of the so-called McCarthy era. Although a number of foundations have been restricted by their charters to specific philanthropic functions, the larger U.S. foundations have devoted themselves to broad areas (see separate articles on Lilly Endowment, IncLilly Endowment, Inc.,
institution founded (1937) at Indianapolis, Ind., by pharmaceutical manufacturer Josiah K. Lilly (1861–1948) as a philanthropic foundation for "the promotion and support of religious, educational, or charitable purposes"; most of its work is confined
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.; Ford FoundationFord 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
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; Rockefeller FoundationRockefeller Foundation,
philanthropic institution established (1913) by John D. Rockefeller, Sr., to promote "the well-being of mankind throughout the world." During its first 14 years the foundation received $183 million from Rockefeller.
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; Sloan FoundationSloan Foundation,
fund established (1934) by automobile executive Alfred P. Sloan, Jr. as a philanthropic institution supporting research in various areas. In its early years it stressed support of U.S. economic education and research.
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; and Commonwealth FundCommonwealth Fund,
foundation established (1918) by Anna M. Harkness, wife of Stephen V. Harkness, an early Standard Oil investor, "for the welfare of mankind." Its headquarters are in New York City.
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). The 1980s and 90s saw a doubling in the number of grantmaking foundations, including those developed by financier George SorosSoros, George
, 1930–, American stock trader and philanthropist, b. Budapest, Hungary, as George Schwartz. He studied under Sir Karl Popper at the London School of Economics (grad. 1952).
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 and Microsoft founder Bill GatesGates, Bill
(William Henry Gates 3d), 1955–, American business executive, b. Seattle, Wash. At the age of 19, Gates founded (1975) the Microsoft Corp., a computer software firm, with Paul Allen. They began by purchasing the rights to convert an existing software package.
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. Due in part to economic prosperity, foundation giving doubled between 1990 and 1998 to $19.5 billion. In 1997, the largest recipients of grant dollars were education, health, and human services.

See also philanthropyphilanthropy,
the spirit of active goodwill toward others as demonstrated in efforts to promote their welfare. The term is often used interchangeably with charity.
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See M. Cuninggim, Private Money and Public Service (1972); W. A. Nielsen, The Big Foundations (1972) and The Endangered Sector (1979); D. N. Layton, Philanthropy and Voluntarism: A Bibliography (1987); Foundation Center Staff, Guide to U.S. Foundations, Their Trustees, Officers, and Donors (2 vol., 1999).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.


The lowest division of a building that serves to transmit and anchor the loads from the superstructure directly to the earth or rock, usually below ground level.
Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture Copyright © 2012, 2002, 1998 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the set of primary underwater components of an overflow dam that form an artificial bed for an open stream of water. The foundation usually consists of an upstream apron, an overflow spillway, a downstream apron or stilling basin, and a bucket. The structures take the load of the water head, preventing the river bed near the dam from being washed out by surface currents and protecting the base of the dam from filtration deformation. The design and the size of the foundation structures are determined from hydraulic, filtration, and static calculations.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


(civil engineering)
The ground that supports a building or other structure.
The portion of a structure which transmits the building load to the ground.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. Any part of a structure that serves to transmit the load to the earth or rock, usually below ground level; the entire masonry substructure.
2. The soil or rock upon which the structure rests.
3. The structure on which the base of a machine rests or to which the feet are fastened.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. the charter incorporating or establishing a society or institution and the statutes or rules governing its affairs
2. Cards a card on which a sequence may be built
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


The axiom of foundation states that the membership relation is well founded, i.e. that any non-empty collection Y of sets has a member y which is disjoint from Y. This rules out sets which contain themselves (directly or indirectly).
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References in periodicals archive ?
The report can be downloaded at no charge from the Gain Knowledge area of the Foundation Center's website:
Little more than a front group that existed in name only, it was more than enough to satisfy the Ford Foundation. Not long after MALDEF's founding, the Ford Foundation turned on the money spigot.
A federal court first tossed the case out, ruling that the Foundation lacks the legal fight to challenge the faith-based offices and their conferences, since these actions were never directly authorized by Congress.
The 17th Annual Starlight Starbright Celebrity Sports Auction supports the mission of the Starlight Starbright Children's Foundation, which is making a world of difference for seriously ill children and their families.
A community foundation offers a donor a degree of control over donations without an obligation to be involved in the day-to-day administration of the fund.
This small step can make a great difference to the FOUNDATION FUND.
Dean Wright said he supports continuing that vision and noted that the foundation in the last couple of years has presented grants to such recipients as the diocese of Huron's youth ministry, an advocacy justice camp in the diocese of Ottawa, translation of the diocese of Keewatin's canons into Cree and anti-racism training at the national committee level.
University Relations Manager for Ultradent Products, Inc., and is a member of the ADAA Foundation Board of Directors.
What direction can the Foundation set to best address this audience?
Next to the Walton Family Foundation, the two nonprofits with the largest growth were Heifer International of Little Rock and the Ross Foundation of Arkadelphia.
Metrobank Foundation also recognized 40 exceptional men and women who have set a worthy example for every Filipino to emulate, called the Award for Continuing Excellence and Service (ACES).
Expressing his assurance over the working of the foundation in service to provide a healthy and safe working environment to journalists, Sadaqat disclosed 'endowment fund of the foundation is being invested under a well- devised strategy for earning more income to be spent on the welfare of journalists and their families.'

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