About the Foundation

The F. M. Kirby Foundation announces
$14.3 million in grants

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Philosophy & Mission

The F. M. Kirby Foundation is a family foundation which 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 of the foundation 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.

To read more about the F. M. Kirby Foundation’s areas of interest, click here.


The founders of F.W. Woolworth & Co.
F. M. Kirby, seated at left.

Sansay House – 1940

Fred Morgan Kirby, a five-and-dime merchant, opened his first store in Wilkes-Barre, PA, in 1887. He merged his business with Frank Woolworth’s 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 funded with approximately nine million dollars with the intention of continuing in perpetuity through generations of the family. Fred Morgan Kirby served as president of the Foundation until 1940 at which point his son, Allan P. Kirby, already well-established in the business world through the Alleghany Corporation, succeeded his father as president.

In 1967, Allan’s son, Fred M. Kirby II, assumed leadership. Through careful management of assets, Fred M. Kirby II greatly enlarged the Foundation’s endowment and stature in the communities served over the course of forty years. After an incredibly successful term spanning more than 56 years as the leader of the Foundation, Fred M. Kirby II passed away on February 8, 2011. His son, S. Dillard Kirby, succeeded him as President in April, 2010.

In 2015, an important initiative, referred to as the “Kirby Alliance,” resulted in the allocation of approximately ⅓ of the Foundation’s corpus to three “cousin” Donor Advised Funds/Foundations. This has reunited mutual philanthropy efforts among the broader Kirby family.

Fred M. Kirby and Allan P. Kirby initiated the Foundation’s funding during the 1930’s and 1940’s with less than a dozen organizations with 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 the family philanthropic interest remain at the core of the Foundation’s support today.

Today, the Foundation operates out of the historic Sansay House in downtown Morristown, New Jersey.

a timeline showing important dates in the history of the F. M. Kirby Foundation