Philosophy & Mission
The F. M. Kirby Foundation aims effectively to manage and utilize that which has been entrusted to it over multiple generations of the Kirby family. It strives to make thoughtful and prudent philanthropic commitments to highly selective grantee partners. The goal is to invest in opportunities that foster self-reliance or otherwise create strong, healthy communities.
The Board of Directors recognizes that achieving its philanthropic aspirations takes time, effort and perseverance that often result in sustained funding relationships.
The F.M. Kirby Foundation is a family foundation. Its grantees are largely in geographic areas of particular interest to five generations of family members and, in many cases, are organizations with which family members have been associated.
Fred Morgan Kirby, a five-and-dime-merchant, opened his first store in Wilkes-Barre, PA in 1887. He merged with the Woolworths in 1912, bringing 94 stores to the merger, and becoming one of the founders of the F.W. Woolworth Company.
The F.M. Kirby Foundation was endowed by Fred Morgan Kirby in 1931 and designed to continue in perpetuity through generations of the family. The Foundation was initially funded with approximately $9 million. Fred Morgan Kirby served as president of the Foundation until 1940. His son, Allan P. Kirby, who had well established himself in the business world through the Alleghany Corporation, succeeded his father as president of the Foundation.
In 1967, Allan’s son, Fred M. Kirby II, assumed leadership and, for over forty years, through careful management of assets, greatly enlarged the Foundation’s endowment and stature in the communities served. After an incredibly successful term, spanning more than 56 years on the Board, Fred M. Kirby II passed away on February 8, 2011. His son, S. Dillard Kirby, succeeded him as President in April, 2010.
Fred M. Kirby and Allan P. Kirby initiated the Foundation’s giving during the 1930s and 1940s with less than a dozen organizations and very focused interests. Much of the early focus was on education, health, public policy, and religion, with support to a small group of organizations important to the family. Under Fred M. Kirby II’s leadership, the Foundation expanded support to non-profit organizations in education, the arts and humanities, human services, and medical research, among others. Importantly, these same programmatic areas and emphasis on family philanthropic interests remain at the core of the Foundation’s support today.