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Founders: The Beginning of The Dayton Foundation in 1921
When The Dayton Foundation was established in 1921, the concept of a charitable foundation to meet the needs of a rapidly growing and changing society was not widely known. Harnessing the collective power of a community’s philanthropic means to effect change where it was needed most was a concept first embodied in the Cleveland Foundation in 1914.
Locally, Dr. D. Frank Garland, then-director of welfare for the National Cash Register (NCR) Company, longtime social activist and the person who first raised awareness of the idea in Dayton, found a supporter in his boss, NCR founder and Chairman John H. Patterson. For decades, Patterson championed innovative projects for the betterment of the community and pioneered the first corporate employee benefits program in the nation, extending his social welfare ideas into the region. The idea of a community foundation was intriguing to him and provided a permanent solution to benefit his hometown and the region where he made his success. As he once said, "I endow people. My best investments are in humanity."
Joining him in his enthusiasm was his sister-in-law, Julia Shaw Patterson Carnell, and nephew, Robert Patterson, son of John Patterson’s brother, Capt. Robert Patterson, all active community leaders in their own right. A leading businesswoman, Julia Patterson Carnell helped establish the Dayton Art Institute by donating works of art, a mansion that served as the museum’s first home and $2 million towards the construction in 1930 of its current facility.
Robert Patterson was a senior executive at NCR and a leader in community affairs. He helped to found the local Boy Scouts and the Dayton Rotary Club and was active with the YMCA, Chamber of Commerce and Miami Valley Hospital.
Together, the Pattersons donated appreciated NCR stock valued at $250,000 (the equivalent of $2.8 million today) to establish The Dayton Foundation’s unrestricted endowment. Guiding the Foundation in its work then and today are two principles set forth in the original governing document, "First, the element of certain and constant change, which is continually taking place in our social structure; and second, that the charitable problems of each generation can more effectively be solved by the minds of these generations than by the dead hand of the past."
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Read more about the Foundation’s history in The Vision & The Promise: 75 Years of The Dayton Foundation
IN HER WORDS
“I like the idea my fund will be here long afer I'm gone, that Foundation people who care about the community will take care of them in perpetuity. I like that we're doing what people before us did, passing on something for the community’s future.” – Caryl Philips, Emeritus Governing Board Member and Foundation donor since 2001