GE Foundation began making grants in 1953 to nonprofit organizations for charitable, scientific, literacy and educational purposes.
In the 1950s, GE Foundation supported grantees including the United Negro College Fund, the American Red Cross and higher education institutions, such as Johns Hopkins and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Initial projects focused on support to modernize the teaching of accounting, electrical engineering and physics. In 1954, GE Foundation created the Corporate Alumni Program, the first corporate gift-matching program for colleges and universities, which over time revolutionized corporate giving and empowered employees and corporations to team up and leverage their higher education donations.
In the 1960s, during a period of widespread social unrest in the United States, GE Foundation led efforts to support minority education and research on urban problems and solutions. By the end of the decade, virtually every GE Foundation dollar went to educational initiatives.
In the 1970s, GE Foundation supported grants that enabled colleges to more effectively address contemporary societal needs, spurring changes in curriculum design. GE chairman Reginald Jones led a national effort to support minority engineering, and a GE Foundation grant helped form what has become the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME).
GE Foundation made significant strides in the 1980s by launching programs that still deliver results today. GE Foundation began support of local United Way campaigns, created the “More Gifts…More Givers” program (a matching gifts program for community organizations), and—for the first time—made grants outside the United States, in countries such as Brazil, China and Mexico. GE Foundation also began its signature “College Bound” initiative, a program designed to increase the number of inner-city U.S. high school students who pursue higher education.
In the 1990s, GE Foundation reiterated its mission to practice “a proactive philanthropy that develops innovative, pace-setting programs that have an unlimited multiplier effect.” GE Foundation accelerated giving outside the United States, with a primary aim to assist students pursuing higher education, and launched a new Environmental Stewardship program to bolster environmental education and protect natural resources.
In the 2000s, GE Foundation continues its track record of impact. The organization’s signature education program, Developing Futures™ in Education, formerly “College Bound”, has been expanded to a nearly $150 million investment and was spotlighted at a Capitol Hill forum in 2002. In addition, GE Foundation and the wider GE family play an integral part in addressing natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami in Indonesia. The GE Foundation also led the response on behalf of GE to 9/11 with a $10 million contribution to the Twin Towers Fund.
GE Foundation will continue to build on its proud history and leverage the best of GE—people, ideas and resources — to make our communities stronger all over the world.