Robert Sterling Clark Foundation
The Robert Sterling Clark Foundation is a private foundation committed to helping create a vibrant New York City – one that is strong, healthy, livable and just. They have been making grants in New York City since 1952.
They are dedicated to helping create and sustain a vibrant New York City.
They do this by investing in leaders, the organizations that develop them, and the networks of which they are a part.
The foundation is the namesake of Robert Sterling Clark, a member of the prominent New York business family, who lived from 1877-1955. Much of the Clarks’ wealth came from their relationship with the Singer Corporation, the leading purveyor of sewing machines. Clark’s father, Edward, is credited with helping create a global market for then-new Singer sewing machines in the late 1800s.
Robert Sterling Clark and his wife Francine were avid art collectors, and eventually went on to found the world-renowned Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts.
The couple also had a heart for broader philanthropic causes outside the realm of the arts. Robert Sterling Clark incorporated his eponymous foundation in 1952, and it was endowed three years later upon his passing. Forward-thinking ahead of his time, Clark left no specific directives for how foundation resources should be allocated—instead preferring to defer to evolving philanthropic needs. As the world would change, so too was the foundation free to adapt and prioritize projects and areas of grantmaking focus.
The Foundation Today
The gift of freedom and flexibility that Robert Sterling Clark gave his foundation is one they celebrate, as it has brought them to where they are now. Today, the foundation champions leadership development—investing in individuals and the organizations that develop them, building the field, and commissioning key pieces of leadership research. Learn more about their philanthropic investments.
Their approach is rooted in trust-based philanthropy—they consider their grantees to be true partners, and they empower them to keep their focus on their important work by reducing the demands often associated with grant applications and reporting. They also prioritize allocating unrestricted, multi-year grants whenever possible. Learn more about trust-based philanthropy.See more