The New York Foundation supports organizations as varied as the backgrounds of New Yorkers themselves. This is apt because there are multiple New Yorks, as writer E.B. White noted in 1949. First, there’s the “New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable.” Second, there’s the New York of the commuter, and third, there is “the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something.” According to White, “commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but settlers give it passion.”
Diversity has always been a principle theme of the New York Foundation’s grantmaking practices. By any analysis, its grants show a remarkable diversity. This is true in part because as the city changes, its most pressing issues do too, and the New York Foundation has been able to respond to issues in real time, as change occurs. Through the years, these issues have been part of a broad continuum that includes child labor, workers’ rights, mental health, social work, housing, literacy, higher education, unemployment relief, refugees, legal services, criminal justice, immigrants’ rights, victims’ rights, AIDS research and treatment, youth empowerment, and “green jobs” and sustainability. Race and race relations have also been powerful drivers of grants during the past century.