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Academy Marks 225th Anniversary with Announcement of $15 Million in Grants


Press Release

CAMBRIDGE, MA, April 21, 2005 – At a special program today to commemorate the 225th anniversary of its founding, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences announced that it has received pledges of more than $15 million to further its program of multidisciplinary public policy research. A major national foundation, a federal agency and several individual donors have made gifts to the Academy.

Massachusetts civic leaders and the heads of other leading state organizations joined Academy officers here to celebrate the anniversary of an institution that pre-dates the establishment of the Commonwealth.

"The scholar-patriots who founded the Academy in 1780 did so in the midst of the Revolutionary War, when their personal futures and the future of the fledgling nation were uncertain at best," noted Academy President Patricia Meyer Spacks. "They created a remarkable and enduring institution. It is our generation’s responsibility to build on that legacy by making the American Academy of the 21st century an equally compelling force for good through its research and convening."

Chief Executive Officer Leslie Berlowitz announced new gifts to the Academy totaling more than $15 million, including two pledges of $5 million each from anonymous individual donors. The latter are among the largest single grants in the Academy’s history. The Academy also received a $3 million capacity-building grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, a $2.4 million challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and a $500,000 gift to support a new archival facility from an anonymous donor.

"This infusion of new resources is a resounding vote of confidence in the important work of the Academy," Berlowitz said. "It will enable us to draw more fully on the Academy’s unique assets – a distinguished membership, unparalleled convening powers, and institutional independence – to continue a 225-year tradition, established by John Adams, of shaping the future of our nation."

Berlowitz said the new grant funding will be applied to three main purposes:
  • To extend and expand the Academy's already wide-ranging independent policy research program. Academy studies focus on complex and emerging problems in the areas of science and global security; social policy; the humanities and culture; and education.

  • To strengthen and expand the Academy’s Visiting Scholars Program, which provides research and career development opportunities for promising scholars in the social sciences and the humanities through yearlong fellowships at the Academy’s Cambridge headquarters.

  • To build a modern archives to make the Academy’s extensive collection of papers and materials spanning three centuries available to scholars and others.

In addition to its research mission, the Academy is an honorary society comprised of 4,600 elected members, who are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business and public affairs from around the world.

"The ultimate goal of the Academy is not only to elect and honor outstanding thinkers, but also to engage them in collaborative work on behalf of the nation," said Louis Cabot, vice president and chair of the Academy’s Trust. "Given its capacity to convene some of the best minds from around the country, the Academy has a special responsibility to examine emerging societal problems and contribute to their resolution."

Today’s event is the first in a series of programs that the Academy will sponsor for its members and the public at sites across the country to celebrate its 225th anniversary year.


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