The Taconic Foundation was in its own words, "a fairly small foundation trying to address some very big problems." Founded
in 1958 by philanthropists Stephen and Audrey Currier, the Taconic Foundation worked consistently during its fifty-five-year
existence to combat social inequities and promote equality of opportunity. Under Stephen Currier's lead, Taconic was at
the forefront in organizing support for the civil rights movement and seeking solutions to the urban crisis. Initial program
areas focused on race relations, mental health, and child development. Later programs evolved to focus on families and youth,
educational innovation, community organizing, housing and neighborhood development, and youth employment.
Along with supporting research into particular issues, the Foundation led by funding demonstration projects or "model" programs,
such as its youth employment programs. When necessary — as in its fight against red-lining or exclusionary zoning practices
— the Taconic Foundation did not shy away from funding legal remedies, supporting litigation and monitoring to ensure compliance
with the law. Taconic also helped pioneer the concept of "program-related investments" as a source of capital for minority
or low-income neighborhoods. From its early days, the Taconic Foundation targeted problems, devised solutions, and engaged
others, including the government, to follow suit.
The Taconic Foundation enjoyed remarkable continuity in its membership and governance from its founding to its final closure
in 2013, and many trustees served for life. When incorporated in May 1958, the Taconic Foundation board consisted of Stephen
R. Currier, chair; Audrey Bruce Currier, and Lloyd K. Garrison. Jane Lee Eddy joined the same year as executive secretary,
retiring (as executive director) only in 1997, when the foundation transferred responsibility for its administration to J.P.
Morgan (she continued to serve as trustee). Child psychologist Edith Entenman and attorney and professor John G. Simon joined
the board in 1959. After the Curriers' death in 1967, John Simon presided over the foundation for the remainder of its existence.
In 1960, the board elected Dorothy Hirshon as a trustee, and in 1961 added Harold C. Fleming, executive director of the Potomac
Institute. Other trustees included: Vernon Jordan (served 1976–1992), Alan J. Dworsky (1980– 2013), Michael Currier (1984–1987),
Susan Curnan (1987–circa 1994), Melvin Mister (1989–circa 2012), L. F. Boker Doyle (1989–2013), Bill Green (1993–2002), Hildy
Simmons (2000–2013), Oliver W. Wesson (2000–2013), and Veronica White (2004–2010).
As the Taconic Foundation marked its fiftieth anniversary in 2008, the board considered its history and planned its legacy.
It commissioned historical timelines, program reviews, and oral history interviews to document the foundation's accomplishments.
The process of Quo Vadimus (Where are we going?) reflection, first begun in the mid-1990s but ever present as the board acknowledged
its limited resources and the impending retirement of its long-term officers, turned to a wide-ranging consideration of how
to close a foundation. The resulting spend-down endowed a program of Taconic Fellows at three of the foundation's long-term
grantee organizations, made final grants to other significant grantees, and awarded several smaller grants to organizations
chosen by each of the trustees.
In a coda to its spend-down, at its final meeting of March 28, 2013, the Taconic Foundation board transferred leadership to
the grandchildren of Stephen and Audrey Currier, who assumed the mantle of a reborn and newly named Taconic Foundation for
The Taconic Foundation records document the foundation's board deliberations and grantmaking from its founding in 1958 to
its closure in 2013. Significant program areas include race relations, voting rights, urban renewal, housing rights, neighborhood
preservation and economic development, school reform, mental health, child welfare, and youth employment. Organizations funded,
and in some cases established, by the Taconic Foundation include the Cooperative Assistance Fund, the Voter Education Project,
the Southern Regional Council, the Potomac Institute, the Suburban Action Institute, and Urban America. While the foundation's
projects particularly targeted problems in New York City neighborhoods, it also worked on behalf of race relations in the
South and of housing reform in Chicago, Philadelphia, and other metropolitan and suburban areas. The Smokey House Center,
developed on the Curriers' property in Danby, Vermont, provided the Taconic Foundation with a model for its youth employment
While Stephen Currier was widely credited for his civil rights leadership, there is very little documentation of his personal
activism in the Taconic Foundation records, and the collection contains no record of his work with the Council on United Civil
Rights Leadership. A letter from Jane Lee Eddy to Dorothy Height (March 9, 1991, in box 56, folder 579), indicates that "those
records were part of the Curriers' personal files and were separated from Taconic materials after their death." We have not
located any collection of personal papers for Stephen or Audrey Currier.
Around October 1988, the Taconic Foundation donated "seven boxes of material relating to the civil rights movement" to the
New York Public Library's Schomburg Center, and some forty-nine books to the Municipal Reference and Research Center of the
City of New York. Presumably, the Schomburg donation also consisted of books, but we have not been able to confirm this fact.
The Taconic Foundation records are comprised of paper and digital records, integrated in one arrangement and description.
Records include correspondence, memos, reports, publications, and photographs. Digital records are in standard file formats
for documents, spreadsheets, and presentations (mainly .doc, .xls, .ppt, and PDFs). While there may be some duplication between
the paper and digital components of hybrid files, there is no exact correspondence between the two formats, and the file contents
do not necessarily coincide.
96.6 Cubic Feet, 206 document boxes, 2 standard records boxes, 3 oversized flat boxes, and 2 card files
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address any outstanding rights issues.
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