History of the Foundation

The William E. Simon Foundation (the “Foundation”) is named after its principal benefactor, William Edward Simon (1927-2000), who established the Foundation in 1967. The Foundation supported charitable organizations – including medical, social service, and educational institutions, as well as Catholic charities – for its first three decades, reflecting the philanthropic interests of Bill Simon and his wife of 45 years, Carol G. Simon, who died in 1995. Bill and Carol Simon had seven children, all of whom serve on the Foundation’s Board of Directors.

In 1998-99, under the leadership of Mr. Simon, the Foundation reviewed its programs and purposes, which resulted in the formalization of its mandate, guidelines, and grantmaking policies. A professional staff was established to carry out the Foundation’s purposes, under continuing guidance of the board, and to evaluate the effectiveness of the grant programs. In 2002, the board and staff conducted a strategic planning process in order to ensure, looking to the future, that the Foundation’s programs reflected utmost faithfulness to the philanthropic ideals that Mr. Simon sought to advance in his lifetime.

Bill Simon was a man of outsized accomplishments who was grateful for the extraordinary blessings of liberty and opportunity that America’s free society offers. Friends and family are likely to agree that the maxim “seize the day” seemed to animate him from dawn until dusk. He was an entrepreneur and leader who was anchored by his Catholic faith and his commitment to serve those in need. The charitable philosophy that guided him in establishing Foundation’s purposes drew heavily on the thoughts expressed more than a century ago by Andrew Carnegie in The Gospel Of Wealth, where he wrote, “In bestowing charity, the main consideration should be to help those who will help themselves; to provide part of the means by which those who desire to improve may do so; to give those who desire to rise the aids by which they may rise; to assist, but rarely or never to do all.” Helping those in need to realize the full promise of their own talent and drive is a large mission, but Mr. Simon was not a man to do things in a small way, and he always recognized the art of the possible.