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Field Foundation of New York (1940–1989)

Total Assets (1977): $16 million[1]

Prominent Grants: $30,000 to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund


The Field Foundation was established by Marshall Field III in 1940 while he was living in New York City. Moved by the despair created during the Great Depression, he was inspired to help those struggling with poverty and endorsed a wide range of New Deal policies, activists and progressive thinkers. In the 1940s, Field III also founded the Chicago Sun, which later merged with the Chicago Times to become the Chicago Sun-Times.

Assembling an impressive board of advisors that included some of the country’s leading social scientists, scholars, business leaders and judges, Field III wanted the foundation to create “a few ideas and social techniques [that may] germinate and eventually prove to be of enough value to be adopted by the community.” A passionate integrationist, he had a deep interest in matters of race and juvenile behavior.

Four years after Field III’s death, in 1960 the foundation was divided into two separate entities: the Field Foundation of New York, which was led by Field III’s widow, Ruth, and the Field Foundation of Illinois, led by Field’s son, Marshall Field IV. By 1989, as Ruth Field had directed, the Field Foundation of New York fully spent its assets and closed.

The Field Foundation of New York “provided support to organizations promoting civil rights, civil liberties, and child welfare and to other groups and individuals working for social change.”