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The Wallace Foundation


Last Updated: 2016-05-25

At A Glance

The Wallace Foundation

(formerly Wallace-Reader's Digest Funds)

5 Penn Plz., 7th Fl.

New York City, NY United States 10001-1837

Telephone: (212) 251-9700


Type of Grantmaker

Independent foundation

Additional Descriptor

Financial Data

(yr. ended 2014-12-31)

Assets: $1,522,257,273

Total giving: $60,267,926






The Wallace Foundation is the current manifestation of the philanthropic legacy of DeWitt and Lila Acheson Wallace, who created a series of family foundations in the mid 1950s and 1960s. By 2003, the various foundations had merged and adopted the current name. Immediately prior to this merger, there were two foundations known as the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund and the DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund. - Founded by the late DeWitt and Lila Wallace. Married in 1921, Lila and DeWitt moved to New York City and published the first edition of Readers Digest in Jan. 1922. From an initial circulation of 5,000, the "little magazine" started by the Wallaces quickly caught on, and over time it became the foundation of a worldwide publishing organization. Once their livelihood was secured, they were able to turn to their first love, helping people. The grantmaker is a signatory to Philanthropy’s Promise, an initiative of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP). By signing on, the grantmaker has committed to allocating the majority of its grantmaking dollars to marginalized communities and at least 25 percent to social justice strategies, such as advocacy, community organizing, and civic engagement.

Purpose and Activities

The Wallace Foundation seeks to improve education and enrichment for disadvantaged children. The foundation has an unusual approach: funding projects to test innovative ideas for solving important social problems, conducting research to find out what works and what doesn't and to fill key knowledge gaps; and then communicating the results to help others.

Program Area(s)

The grantmaker has identified the following area(s) of interest:

After-School Learning

The foundation's goal is to help cities improve access to high-quality after-school programs through coordination of the work of nonprofits, government and other groups.

Building Appreciation and Demand for the Arts

The foundation's work in the arts consists of two components: Audience Development for the Arts, under which Wallace supports arts organizations as they develop and test innovative ideas to reach new audiences so that many more people might enjoy the benefits of the arts; and Arts Education, through which Wallace works with nonprofits and school districts to find out how they might engage more young people in high-quality arts learning during the school day and beyond.

Matching Gifts

The foundation matches the monetary gifts of its staff to charitable organizations up to $2,000 per employee per year.

School Leadership

The foundation supports states and school districts to develop better ways to train, hire, support and evaluate principals and other key figures in schools. Leadership is second only to teaching among school influences on student success, and its impact is greatest in schools with the greatest need, according to a landmark examination of the evidence on school leadership. The foundation's school leadership strategy is three-pronged: 1) Disseminate reports and other materials about what we have learned, so education decision-makers develop informed school leadership policies and procedures; 2) Create tools, such as how-to guides, that are based on what Wallace has found out and will help those in the trenches of school reform to work more effectively; and 3) Support selected districts seeking to build a pipeline of excellent principals.

Summer and Expanded Learning Time

The conventional six-hour, 180-day school year is insufficient to adequately educate many students in the nation’s urban public schools. Simply adding hours and days to the schedule won’t help unless children occupy the extra time in programming known to boost learning. In recent years, promising programs have emerged. Known effective program models and approaches are few and have rarely been tested rigorously or on a large scale in districts.The goal of the program is to improve education in low-performing urban public schools by adding time during the school year and summer for learning and enrichment that boosts student achievement. The program has three strategies: 1) Raising awareness by informing mayors, school district leaders, parents and others about how more hours for learning could improve student achievement; 2) Supporting the few well-established nonprofits with strong summer or extended learning programs so they can serve more children; and 3) Testing solutions on an appropriate scale in districts by helping selected city school districts introduce and test more-learning-time programs on a wide scale, and then evaluate the results.

Fields of Interest

  • Arts and culture
  • Cooperative education
  • Education
  • Elementary and secondary education
  • Leadership development
  • Out-of-school learning
Population Groups
  • Academics
  • Children and youth
  • Economically disadvantaged people
  • Low-income and poor people
  • Students

Financial Data

Year ended 2014-12-31

Assets: $1,522,257,273 (market value)

Gifts received: $55

Expenditures: $86,168,734

Total giving: $60,267,926

Qualifying distributions: $78,518,439

Giving activities include:

$60,239,063 for 154 grants (high: $4,000,000; low: $250)

$28,863 for 68 employee matching gifts

$7,587,729 for 4 foundation-administered programs