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Danforth Foundation (1927–2011)

Total Assets (as of 2011 spend-down announcement): $60,000,000

As of 2009: $120,452,076  [1]

Total Giving: $1,000,000,000 [2]

Total Giving in 2009: $39,574,528  [3]

Prominent Grants: Concentrated on the St. Louis region, primarily for projects involving religion and higher education. Prominent recipients include Washington University, the Danforth Plant Science Center, and more than $20 million for revitalization projects in downtown St. Louis.

Reports: St. Louis Beacon, “Danforth Foundation has ended its giving but not its influence” (June 2011)

Summary: Established in 1927 in St. Louis by Ralston Purina founder William Danforth and his wife. Until 1996, the Foundation focused on gifts to promote higher education nationwide. The Danforth Fellows Program supported graduate study in religion for scholars in other fields, and the Danforth Associates Program aimed to foster better instruction on college campuses by improving relations between teachers and students. After William Danforth’s death in 1955, the Foundation began to give grants to institutions as well as individuals, most prominently Washington University and St. Louis University.

In 1997, the Foundation shifted its mission to focus exclusively on the St. Louis region. This included major gifts to Forest Park Forever, to support work in park restoration, Downtown Now!, to support inner-city revitalization projects, and to the Danforth Plant Science Center. The Science Center was established with a mission to make St. Louis the epicenter of life sciences research, tying together work done by Washington University, Monsanto, and other organizations. These three areas made up the focus of the Foundation’s giving during its final years. In 2011, it announced that its final $60 million would be gifted to the Danforth Plant Science Center, and the Foundation would sunset.