Philanthropy is a key factor in the steadfast growth and development of society. In the United States alone philanthropy is a huge undertaking, where currently more than 360 billion dollars are distributed to individuals and organizations for a wide range of good causes. According to The Almanac of American Philanthropy, the rate of giving in the United States is 2 to 20 times higher than in other countries. Here’s a compilation of key philanthropic moments in history that made a significant impact on the United States of America.

1638 & 1643 – Harvard University

In 1638 John Harvard entrusts a library and half of his estate to the newly founded Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

In 1643 Harvard University conducted what is considered to be the first American fund drive. The event raised 500 pounds, which was thought to be a great success for the times. Later in the year, Harvard University was able to create its first scholarship fund with a monetary gift from Ann Radcliffe, Lady Mowlson.

1731 – The Library Company of Philadelphia

Benjamin Franklin and 50 of his friends funded The Library Company of Philadelphia in 1731. The library went on to become the first successful circulation library in the United States. It’s impact – people who didn’t have access to great wealth now had a chance to educate themselves through reading.

1749 & 1751 – University of Pennsylvania

In 1749, Benjamin Franklin proposed his vision for a school where the focus would be on preparing students for careers in business and public service, instead of it being solely focused on education for the clergy.

In 1751, the doors to Franklin’s school, University of Pennsylvania, opened.

1815 – The Library of Congress

When the original Library of Congress was destroyed by invading British troops,  President Thomas Jefferson offered his personal library as a replacement. In 1815, Congress accepted Jefferson’s offer and received a total 6,487 of his books. Nowadays, the Library of Congress is considered to be the largest library in the world with over 130 million items.

1861 & 1863 – American Red Cross

In 1861 the U.S. Sanitary Commission, which would later become the American Red Cross, is organized.

In 1863 The International Committee for Relief to the Wounded, which would soon be renamed International Committee for the Red Cross, is founded by Henry Dunant, after having to provide medical services to more than 9,000 wounded soldiers during a batter in Northern Italy. Mr. Dunant would also be a key individual when The Geneva Conventions were drafted in order to establish international relief for wounded soldiers.

1867 – Peabody Fund

Established by financier George Peabody, the Peabody fund was created in 1867. The fund’s prime purpose was to offer education both both white and black students. The fund’s money was also used to encourage the development of state systems with free education.

1885 & 1891 – Stanford University

In 1885 former California Governor Leland Stanford made a giant donation, including 8,000 acres of land to create Stanford University.

In 1891, Stanford University opened its doors.

1889 – University of Chicago

John D. Rockefeller donated $600,000 to help found the University of Chicago. To this day, his total gifts throughout the years to create and improve the school are more than 80 million.

1889 – The First Carnegie Library

In 1889, Andrew Carnegie created the first free library in Braddock, Pennsylvania. This project would eventually lead him to build a total of 2,507 libraries around the United States and other countries.

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