Arthur Vining Davis. Image courtesy of the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations.

The majority of SECF’s early members, described elsewhere in the book, had been in operation for two-to-four decades, but among the newer philanthropic enterprises were the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, established in 1965. They were created by Arthur Vining Davis, a Congregational minister’s son from Massachusetts and an 1888 Amherst College graduate, who went on to make a fortune as the de facto CEO and chairman, for nineteen years, of what became the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa).

After retiring to Florida at the age of eighty-two, he made a second fortune in real estate—including the development of Ponte Vedra. The family foundations are known primarily for their grant-making throughout the United States, especially to private institutions of higher education and graduate theological education. There is nothing stereotypically Southern about the foundations beyond their office location in Florida, but they have been highly valued supporters of the SECF since the beginning of the organization, reflecting additional credit upon the region’s philanthropy.

Excerpted from The Liberating Promise of Philanthropy.

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