Our History

Early Years

William T. Grant cared deeply about the development and well-being of young people. The Foundation was established to support research that could contribute to “human betterment and social progress.”


1876

William Thomas Grant was born in Stevensville, PA, and raised in Fall River,MA.


1906

The first W.T. Grant store opened. The chain grew to 1,100 stores across the nation.



1936

The Grant Foundation was incorporated.

“What I have in mind is to assist, by some means, in helping people or peoples to live more contentedly and peacefully and well in body and mind through a better knowledge of how to use and enjoy all the good things that the world has to offer them”
William T. Grant 1936


1938

The Foundation funded its first major initiative, the Grant Study of Adult Development at Harvard University. This groundbreaking study of human development followed some of the original subjects for more than 75 years.


1949

The Foundation granted awards to improve opportunities for minority students, including longstanding support for the United Negro College Fund, and the National Medical Fellowships in support of minority medical students.


1950s

The Foundation’s grantmaking concentrated on child-rearing, parent education, and child mental health.


1951

Dr. Benjamin Spock’s studies of child-rearing received Foundation support.


1954

The Foundation supported the work of renowned psychologists John Bowlby, Margaret Mahler, and Mary Ainsworth, who introduced theories of parent-infant attachment and early social-emotional development into the field of child mental health and development.



1956

The Foundation provided support to Hampstead Clinic in London, then under the direction of Anna Freud.


1960s

The Foundation responded to new social trends, including an increase in the number of mothers working outside the home and the nation’s war on poverty.


1961

The Foundation began to support research relating to daycare and preschool education.


1965

Douglas D. Bond, M.D., succeeded William T. Grant as president of The Foundation.


1969

The Foundation supported the first industry-sponsored daycare facility for children of employees of the KLH Corporation in Cambridge, MA.


1970s

The Foundation invested more resources in social services, education, and social policy, and in advocacy for disadvantaged children and youth.


1973

Mr. Grant died at the age of 96.


1974

The Foundation was instrumental in the creation of the child advocacy group,Children’s Defense Fund.


The Foundation’s support of the Mental Health Law Project resulted in a more humane system for treating the mentally ill and the rights of all children to receive an appropriate education.


1975

Jane Goodall, David Hamburg, and Harry Harlow received support for their studies of primates, thought to be relevant to human psychology and social behavior.



1976

Philip Sepir, former assistant dean at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, was selected as president.


1977

The Grant Foundation changed its name to the William T. Grant Foundation.

1980s

The Foundation shifted from studies of infancy to a focus on the older child.

1981

Robert Haggerty, M.D., began his 12 year tenure as president. Under his leadership, the Foundation supported research on how school-age children cope with stress.


1982

The Foundation instituted the Faculty Scholars Program (now the William T. Grant Scholars) as a response to sharp cuts in federal funding of social science research.


1986

The Foundation initiated the Commission on “Youth and America’s Future.” The Commission’s groundbreaking work became known asThe Forgotten Half, which put a spotlight on the plight of the fifty percent of the nation’s children who were not bound for college.


1990s

The Foundation continued the work it began with The Forgotten Half, focusing on underserved American children and youth.


1991

Beatrix Hamburg, M.D., a psychiatrist who advanced the field of child and adolescent psychiatry, succeeded Dr. Haggerty as president. Dr.Hamburg, the Foundation’s first female president, was also the first African-American woman to attend Yale School of Medicine.


1992

Dr. Hamburg directed Foundation support to focus on the prevention of youth violence andissues of minority youth.



1998

Karen Hein, M.D., a leading physician and health policy expert, began her tenure as president. Dr. Hein’s emphasis was on positive youth development and “helping the nation value young people as a resource.”


2000s

The Foundation launched two significant initiatives: Improving the Quality of After-School Programs and Understanding and Improving Youth Social Settings


2002

The Foundation celebrated its first 100 William T. Grant Scholars, 1982-2002.


2003

Robert C. Granger,Ed.D., then the Foundation’s senior vice president for program and an expert in the evaluation of policies and programs affecting children and youth, was appointed president.


2004

The Foundation supported the development of the Optimum Design Software, used by researchers for power calculations in cluster-randomized trials.


The Foundation established theDistinguished FellowsProgram.


2006

The Foundation established itsYouth Service Improvement Grants(YSIG) which help community-based organizations in New York City strengthen their youth-oriented programs.



2009

The Foundation launched a new funding interest, Understanding the Acquisition, Interpretation, and Use of Research Evidence in Policy and Practice.


2010s

The Foundation continues its initiative on the Use of Research Evidence and building on its contributions to understanding and improving social settings, with a new emphasis on reducing inequality, one the foremost challenges facing the nation.


2013

Adam Gamoran, Ph.D., formerly a professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a renowned scholar of educational inequality, succeeded Dr. Granger as president.


2014

The Foundation launched its newest research interest, the programs, policies, and practices that reduce inequalities in the academic, behavioral, social, and economic outcomes of young people.

2015

The Foundation announces a bold new direction in its focus areas, calling for research that identifies, creates, and tests strategies to improve the use of research evidence in ways that benefit youth.