The Aaron Diamond Foundation, which finished spending out its funds in 1996, was founded by Aaron and Irene Diamond in 1955. Aaron had accumulated substantial wealth from real estate investments in New York City, while Irene, who took over stewardship of the foundation upon her husband’s death in 1984, had been involved in the motion picture industry before dedicating herself to philanthropy. Together, the two began a foundation that they dedicated to providing financial support for minority education, biomedical research, and cultural institutions, primarily in New York City.
The Aaron Diamond Foundation had financial assets of $150 million when it began the process of identifying charitable organizations in which to invest in 1986. These investments included providing money to local colleges, contributing to cultural institutions like libraries, museums, and art galleries, and supporting medical research at institutions like the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, the Mount Sinai Medical Center, and the Public Health Research Institute of New York City. The Diamond Foundation may be best known for its early focus on joining the fight against the AIDS epidemic, as it was regarded as the largest private supporter of AIDS research in the United States. As part of this effort, Irene Diamond directed funds to establish the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, which still operates today in contributing AIDS research.
- Interview Vincent McGee, former Executive Director of Aaron Diamond Foundation: http://www.philanthropynewsdigest.org/newsmakers/vincent-mcgee-aaron-diamond-foundation-spending-out-as-a-philanthropic-strategy
- Center for Strategic Philanthropy case study: http://cspcs.sanford.duke.edu/sites/default/files/DiamondAIDSresearchfinal.pd