Scope and arrangement
The bulk of the collection consists of grant files which are arranged alphabetically. Materials in these files include grant proposals, applications for grant renewals, correspondence between grantees and New York Foundation staff, printed matter submitted by applicants (including annual reports, press coverage, newsletters, and other materials in support of their application), interim and final reports, internal memoranda, and other records related to the awarding and administration of grants. In most cases, recent files contain more extensive documentation than earlier files. The collection also includes historical materials, meeting minutes and agendas, and files related to the Foundation's involvement with the Cooperative Assistance Fund.
The collection contains records related to each organization the Foundation funded, as well as some of those it chose not to fund. These records not only document the individual organizations, communities, and programs which benefitted from grants, but also - when considered in the aggregate - provide insight into the social, cultural, educational, political, and medical issues which New Yorkers and others faced in the course of the twentieth century. They provide a window onto an expansive range of neighborhoods, ethnicities, and under-documented groups, and in many instances they reveal the effects of broader events (Civil Rights activism, the Reagan administration's attempt at "welfare reform," the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and the September 11 attacks, to name only a few) on local communities of people and grassroots organizations.
The New York Foundation records are arranged in four series:
Series I contains legal documents related to the establishment of the New York Foundation in 1909 and subsequent changes to its governance and funding. Included are wills, an act of incorporation, deeds of trust, agreements, a charter, and various iterations of the Foundation's by-laws and their amendments. In addition, the series contains multiple edited and annotated typescripts of two unpublished histories of the Foundation, written by former secretary Jerome H. Schloss and former executive director Sol Markoff, as well as a printed copy of Executive Director Madeline Lee's Listening at the Grassroots: Reflections on 25 Years of Grantmaking in the World's Greatest City. Materials are arranged chronologically.
Series II contains minutes from meetings held by the New York Foundation's Board of Trustees from 1909 through 2005, as well as indices to the minutes from 1909-1948 and 1956-1970. Early meeting minutes often include copies of pertinent legal documents. Although in recent years the Board of Trustees has held three regularly scheduled meetings each year, in earlier years meetings were held more frequently, as there were no paid staff and the Foundation's operation was entirely dependent on the trustees. Various committees (ad hoc and standing) hold meetings in addition to those of the full board. Minutes from committee meetings are also in this series, as are files related to breakfasts held by the Nominating Committee in 1981 and 1982 to meet potential future trustees.
Beginning in 1974, the Foundation distributed packets to Trustees in advance of meetings as preparatory reading. These packets include agendas as well as so-called "indexes of recommended grants." These indexes contain extensive information about the applications to be reviewed and decided upon at each meeting, including those which were not ultimately funded.
This series includes annual reports compiled by the Foundation's Trustees between 1913 and 1955 and published reports (annual, biannual, and multi-annual) from 1949 through 2007. There are also correspondence files for some Trustees. It should be noted that these files are not comprehensive and sometimes contain correspondence and clippings about a Trustee rather than with him or her.
All materials in Series II are arranged chronologically except the Trustee correspondence, which is arranged alphabetically by surname.
Series III is composed of files related to the New York Foundation's participation in the Cooperative Assistance Fund (CAF) between 1968 and 1987. The CAF, established in Washington, D.C. in 1968, was a consortium of foundations which contributed funds to an investment pool. The profits generated from these investments were used to support development in disadvantaged and low-income communities, particularly in the urban North and rural South. This type of investment, now commonly known as a program-related investment (PRI), was innovative when begun by the CAF in in 1968. The New York Foundation ended its involvement with the CAF in 1987.
Files in this series are arranged chronologically and contain correspondence, printed materials, meeting minutes, and agendas. Of note are materials related to the New York Foundation's 1987 decision to terminate involvement in the CAF and to donate its remaining investments to the Fund rather than withdraw them.
The grant records comprise the bulk of the collection and contain extensive documentation of the Foundation's grant making activities over almost a century. They include grant files, a card file, a ledger, and files related to small grants the Foundation awarded to select grantees for specific purposes. Although in earlier years programs were sometimes funded for many consecutive years, the renewal procedure subsequently became more formalized, requiring grantees to apply for renewal of their grant each year, for up to five years. Occasionally grants were canceled due to the grantees' failure to submit timely reports or for inappropriate use of funds. It should be noted that many organizations which received Foundation support underwent one, or several, name changes. Folder titles have not been changed, so researchers should look for files under all known names of an organization. Also, some folder titles include an approval number (e.g. #811) which was used internally to keep track of which applications were awarded grants. These can be cross-referenced with related entries in the card file and ledger, also in this series.
The grant files are arranged alphabetically. It should be noted that personal names, or organizations named after individuals, were alternately alphabetized by forename or surname, so both possible alphabetical locations should be checked. The grant files include some or all of the following: copies of applicants' verification of tax-exempt status (Internal Revenue Service forms), applications for grant funding and renewal, signed grant agreements, correspondence between grantees and Foundation staff, printed materials about the applicants (newspaper clippings, annual reports, letters of recommendation, flyers, brochures, photographs), interim and final progress reports, and other records related to the awarding and administration of grants.
The grant files may hold less formal documentation of grantees' accomplishments and setbacks, including anecdotal accounts about their programs. New York Foundation staff conduct site visits periodically, and their notes and feedback from those visits are often placed in the files. Grant applications and interim reports provide extensive information about the development of strategies and techniques to address particular social problems. The grant files also include files for intermediary agencies whom the Foundation paid to provide training and other services to grantees, including Arete, Brooklyn in Touch, the Non-Profit Computer Exchange, Infoshare, Cause Effective, Community Resource Exchange, and Accountants for the Public Interest. This series also contains a card file used to track applications and grants awarded; a ledger with entries for each applicant between 1933 and 1960, noting approvals and amounts granted; records from conferences held in the 1980s to support grantees; and files related to special small grants which supplemented some grantees' funding and provided specific training and support. These special grants include Organizer's Expense Account (OEA) grants, which covered incidental expenses of community organizing, national travel to conferences, training, and retreats for joint strategizing; Summer Internship in Community Organizing (SICO) grants, which supported 10-week internships in community organizing for young people between the ages of 16 and 23; and Technical Assistance Grants, which helped defray the cost of hands-on consulting help in areas including public relations, fundraising, special events, planning, and technology. Also included are files concerning Director's Discretionary Grants (DDGs), most often awarded when an organization faced unexpected, severe economic crisis, and files about Summer Youth Programs. Records of these smaller grants are filed chronologically, with files from each year alphabetized.