The Pew Family
Areas of Focus
Governance | Health | Arts | Environment
The Pew family’s philanthropy began anonymously and, through the years, has been both remarkable and admirable for seeking no earthly reward or recognition. We are honored that you allowed us to include you in this year’s accomplished group of medalists. The board of The Pew Charitable Trusts, which includes descendants of the founders, fittingly agreed to break with tradition and accept an award for what Andrew Carnegie once described as the “serious and difficult task of wise distribution.” We are overjoyed to pay tribute to you, acknowledging the tradition of family philanthropy and integrity that The Pew Charitable Trusts embodies.
The story of The Pew Charitable Trusts begins with Joseph Newton Pew, who was raised on a farm in Pennsylvania and created one of America’s leading corporations—Sun Oil. He was the father of the four founders of The Pew Charitable Trusts: J. Howard Pew, Mary Ethel Pew, Joseph N. Pew, Jr., and Mabel Pew Myrin. He was also the source of the spirit and ideals that infused their philanthropy—the values of education, religion, entrepreneurship, and social responsibility that continue to guide the Trusts’ strategy. From its earliest years, inspired by Joseph Newton Pew, the board took an entrepreneurial approach to grantmaking, leveraging assets and expertise, and bringing creativity to bear on difficult but surmountable challenges. Today, as a nonprofit organization, The Pew Charitable Trusts uses that results-oriented strategy to target pervasive problems in such areas as health, state economic issues, and the environment, and resolutely seeks to improve public policy, inform the public, and stimulate civic life.
In an era of unprecedented creation of wealth by youthful entrepreneurs and innovators, as well as the transfer of great wealth to new generations, the Pew family serves as an indispensable role model for thoughtful philanthropy and public service. The Pew Charitable Trusts’ early history as a family foundation has been one of consistency and continuity balanced with responsiveness to current conditions and unfolding needs. Your understanding that the times and the problems we face change over generations and require new solutions echoes Andrew Carnegie’s belief that “Conditions upon the [earth] inevitably change; hence, no wise man will bind Trustees forever to certain paths, causes or institutions.” While embracing change, your organization remains firmly grounded in its founders’ intent to nurture American democratic traditions, promote an educated and engaged citizenry, protect religious freedom, improve the quality of life in U.S. communities, and assist those in need. Recognizing your decades of striving, as Joseph N. Pew, Jr. put it, to “give Americans a better life, not an easier life,” we take great pride in honoring the Pew family and the organization that bears its name.