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Julius Rosenwald, ca. 1920s
Sears president Julius Rosenwald established the Julius Rosenwald Foundation for the “well being of mankind,” in 1917.  By 1929 his gifts amounted to $63 million, with large donations going to the University of Chicago, the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago and a variety of Jewish organizations.  Over the course of his life, he donated millions of dollars to public schools, colleges and universities, museums, hospitals and clinics, relief agencies, scientific research, the fine arts, social settlements and other causes. 

Rosenwald took particular interest in the plight of African Americans.  His charity committed large sums of money for the construction of schools, affectionately known as “Rosenwald Schools,” in poor, rural and primarily African American school districts in 15 Southern states.  These schools were cooperatively built with assistance from the local African American communities.  Donations of land and labor by the local community were matched by financial contributions from the Rosenwald Foundation.  The Foundation contributed to the construction of over 5, 357 school buildings, nearly 200 teachers’ homes, 163 workshops and five industrial high schools for African Americans with a combined pupil capacity of 663,615 students.  

Rosenwald also supported higher education for African Americans.  He became a trustee of the Tuskegee Institute in 1912.  He gave over two million dollars to Black University Centers at Tuskegee, Howard, Fisk, Atlanta and Dillard Universities.  The Rosenwald Foundation gave approximately 1,000 scholarships or fellowships to African American students.

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