Stanley Foundation

Stanley Foundation


* Assets: $127,362,964 (2017)
* Grants Received: $5 (2017)
* Grants Awarded: $0 (2017)

The Iowa-based Stanley Foundation (SF) was created in 1956 by the engineer C. Maxwell Stanley and his wife Elizabeth, as a result of what the Foundation describes as the couple’s “deep concerns about global security in an increasingly interdependent world.” SF’s initial board of directors consisted only of the two founders and their children, and its programming began on a small scale. The Foundation’s policy dialogue work started in 1960 with a “Strategy for Peace” conference, and its first “United Nations of the Next Decade” gathering was held five years later. SF’s first paid staff member came on board in 1967. Four years after that, Project Enrichment, the Foundation’s initial community-education program, was instituted in the schools of Muscatine, Iowa.

C. Maxwell Stanley served as president of SF until his death in 1984, at which time his son, Richard Stanley, succeeded him in that position. A professional engineer like his father, Richard remains president of the Foundation to this day. The SF website depicts him as a “world citizen,” in the mold of the father.

In 1989, SF established a two-tier governance structure to facilitate greater involvement by members of the extended Stanley family. Today, many third-generation family members are engaged in the Foundation’s work.

Stating that its mission is to “create fair, just, and lasting solutions to critical issues of peace and security,” SF is a member organization of the Peace and Security Funders Group. The Foundation invariably advocates efforts to achieve what it calls “principled multilateralism in addressing international issues,” so that “the causes of conflict are addressed and disputes are resolved without recourse to violence.”

Following is a brief overview of SF’s five major initiatives today:

  • The Nuclear Policy Program seeks to “reduce [the] risk of nuclear [weapons] use” by working “to help global governance and technology development co-evolve in ways that manage or leverage the disruptive effects of emerging technologies on strategic stability, nonproliferation, and disarmament.”
  • The Mass Violence and Atrocities Program seeks to “ensure that diverse stakeholders at all levels create durable and inclusive institutions and mechanisms that strengthen societal resilience to mass violence and atrocities.”
  • The Climate Change Program “is engaging key stakeholders at multiple levels to determine and pursue transformational pathways necessary to reduce and remove greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming to 1.5°C.”
  • The Media Programming Initiative “promotes quality, in-depth, and timely reporting on topics related to the foundation’s three program areas:  climate change, nuclear weapons policy, and mass violence and atrocities. Media programs are often produced in collaboration with trusted media organizations…. In addition, the foundation is exploring the role and impact of new media and technology … within the larger media ecosystem.”
  • The Community Partnerships Program provides avenues through which “the foundation partners with local schools to provide resources and learning opportunities for teachers and students”; “local educators are offered an opportunity to study and travel internationally”; and “the foundation partners with other Iowa institutions to provide various international events/conferences.”

To view a list of the Stanley Foundation’s past programs, click here.

For additional information on the Stanley Foundation, click here.

(Information on grantees and monetary amounts courtesy of The Foundation Center, GuideStar, ActivistCash, the Capital Research Center and Undue Influence)

Additional Resources:

Further Reading: (“History“, “Who We Are“, “Nuclear Policy Program“, “Mass Violence and Atrocities Program“, “Climate Change Program“, “Media Programming Initiative“); “The Stanley Foundation” (

© Copyright 2024,