Russell Sage Foundation
The Russell Sage Foundation is the principal American foundation
Foundation (charity)
A foundation is a legal categorization of nonprofit organizations that will typically either donate funds and support to other organizations, or provide the source of funding for its own charitable purposes....

 devoted exclusively to research in the social sciences
Social sciences
Social science is the field of study concerned with society. "Social science" is commonly used as an umbrella term to refer to a plurality of fields outside of the natural sciences usually exclusive of the administrative or managerial sciences...

. Founded in 1907 and headquartered in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, the foundation is a research center, a funding source for studies by scholars at other institutions, and a key member of the nation's social science community. The foundation also publishes, under its own imprint, the books that derive from the work of its grantees and visiting scholars.

The Foundation currently funds studies in a diverse range of disciplines and topics, including labor markets, immigration
Immigration is the act of foreigners passing or coming into a country for the purpose of permanent residence...

, social inequality
Social inequality
Social inequality refers to a situation in which individual groups in a society do not have equal social status. Areas of potential social inequality include voting rights, freedom of speech and assembly, the extent of property rights and access to education, health care, quality housing and other...

, behavioral economics, the U.S. Census and the Great Recession.


One of the oldest American foundations, the Russell Sage Foundation was established in 1907 for "the improvement of social and living conditions in the United States" by a gift of $10 million from Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage
Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage
Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage was an American philanthropist. Upon the death of her husband Russell Sage she received a fortune estimated at more than $50,000,000, to be used as she saw fit...

 (1828–1918), widow of railroad magnate and financier Russell Sage
Russell Sage
Russell Sage was a financier, railroad executive and Whig politician from New York, United States. As a frequent partner of Jay Gould in various transactions, he amassed a fortune, which passed to his second wife, Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage, when he died...

. Mrs. Sage directed the foundation to pursue its mission through a broad set of activities, including "research, publication, education, the establishment and maintenance of charitable or benevolent activities, agencies and institutions, and the aid of any such activities, agencies, or institutions already in existence." Her will added a $5 million bequest in 1917.

Early years

Soon after its establishment, the Foundation played a pioneering role in dealing with problems of the poor and the elderly, in efforts to improve hospital and prison conditions, and in the development of social work as a profession. The Foundation was also responsible for early reforms in health care
Health care
Health care is the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease, illness, injury, and other physical and mental impairments in humans. Health care is delivered by practitioners in medicine, chiropractic, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, allied health, and other care providers...

, city planning, consumer
Consumer is a broad label for any individuals or households that use goods generated within the economy. The concept of a consumer occurs in different contexts, so that the usage and significance of the term may vary.-Economics and marketing:...

Credit (finance)
Credit is the trust which allows one party to provide resources to another party where that second party does not reimburse the first party immediately , but instead arranges either to repay or return those resources at a later date. The resources provided may be financial Credit is the trust...

, labor law, the training of nurses, and social security
Social security
Social security is primarily a social insurance program providing social protection or protection against socially recognized conditions, including poverty, old age, disability, unemployment and others. Social security may refer to:...


In 1907, the foundation funded the Pittsburgh Survey, the first systematic effort to survey working class conditions in a large U.S. city. Considered a major Progressive Era
Progressive Era
The Progressive Era in the United States was a period of social activism and political reform that flourished from the 1890s to the 1920s. One main goal of the Progressive movement was purification of government, as Progressives tried to eliminate corruption by exposing and undercutting political...

 achievement, the findings inspired labor reforms and helped end twelve-hour days and seven-day weeks for steel workers.
Between 1909 and 1922, the Foundation spent nearly a sixth of its capital to build Forest Hills Gardens, a model suburban community for working families designed by architect Frederick Law Olmstead. The aim was to demonstrate the economic and social viability of an intelligently planned suburban community. The first lots sold for $800, and a new suburb began thriving by 1917, but housing prices soon soared beyond the range of the families they were intended for.

During its first 40 years, the Foundation also spent more than $1 million on the Regional Survey and Plan, a guide for development in the New York metropolitan region. Researchers completed 12 massive volumes as part of the effort, and in 1928, the Foundation helped launch the Regional Plan Association to implement the plan’s recommendations.

1945 - 1980

Since World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the Foundation has devoted its efforts to strengthening the social sciences as a means of achieving more informed and rational social policy. It launched a variety of programs to draw the social sciences closer to decision-makers in other professions, from policymakers to health care providers. This initiative included funds for research on "social indicators", a collection of data that measure the quality of life.

In the 1950s, the Foundation supported research on the practice and aims of philanthropy
Philanthropy etymologically means "the love of humanity"—love in the sense of caring for, nourishing, developing, or enhancing; humanity in the sense of "what it is to be human," or "human potential." In modern practical terms, it is "private initiatives for public good, focusing on quality of...

. It established the Foundation Center
Foundation Center
The Foundation Center is a 501 nonprofit organization headquartered in New York City. The Center’s stated mission is "to strengthen the social sector by advancing knowledge about philanthropy in the U.S...

, now the country’s leading source of authoritative information on organized philanthropy. It was also the first to publish The Foundation Directory, a comprehensive listing of the nation’s several thousand largest foundations.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the Foundation turned to medical ethics
Medical ethics
Medical ethics is a system of moral principles that apply values and judgments to the practice of medicine. As a scholarly discipline, medical ethics encompasses its practical application in clinical settings as well as work on its history, philosophy, theology, and sociology.-History:Historically,...

, including patients' rights
Patients' Rights
Patients' rights are the rights to which people are entitled as recipients of medical care. These may vary between countries.*U.S. – U.S. Patients' Bill of Rights*U.K. – Patient's Charter...

, extreme measures to sustain life, and the use of human subjects in research. Foundation-supported books from this period include Bernard Barber’s Drugs and Society (1967) and The Dying Patient (1970).

1980s - present

The Foundation was an early force in the development of behavioral economics, launching the Behavioral Economics program in 1986 with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a philanthropic non-profit organization in the United States. It was established in 1934 by Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., then-President and Chief Executive Officer of General Motors.-Overview:...

. A number of seminal books on behavioral economics published by Russell Sage remain key texts in the field today, including Quasi Rational Economics (1991) and Advances in Behavioral Finance (1993).

In 1993, the Foundation also established the Behavioral Economics Roundtable, a group of leading behavioral economists elected by grantees in the program and charged to design initiatives to advance the field. Three charter members of the Roundtable subsequently received the Noble Prize in economics: George Akerloff, Daniel Kahneman
Daniel Kahneman
Daniel Kahneman is an Israeli-American psychologist and Nobel laureate. He is notable for his work on the psychology of judgment and decision-making, behavioral economics and hedonic psychology....

, and Thomas Schelling
Thomas Schelling
Thomas Crombie Schelling is an American economist and professor of foreign affairs, national security, nuclear strategy, and arms control at the School of Public Policy at University of Maryland, College Park. He is also co-faculty at the New England Complex Systems Institute...


The Foundation launched new programs to study immigration, the rise of economic inequality and contact among cultures within the American population. Between 1992 and 2000, the Foundation worked with the Ford Foundation
Ford Foundation
The Ford Foundation is a private foundation incorporated in Michigan and based in New York City created to fund programs that were chartered in 1936 by Edsel Ford and Henry Ford....

 to conduct a Multi-City Study of Urban Inequality. In 2000, the Foundation partnered with the Population Reference Bureau
Population Reference Bureau
The Population Reference Bureau is a private, nonprofit organization which informs people around the world about population, health and the environment for research or academic purposes...

 (PRB) to produce The American People: Census 2000, edited by Reynolds Farley of the University of Michigan and John Haaga of PRB. The Foundation also supported several other census-based books reflecting on the import of the new millennium and the evolution of American society, including Century of Difference: How America Changed in the Last One Hundred Years (2006) by Claude Fischer and Michael Hout, both of University of California, Berkeley and One Nation Divisible: What America Was and What it is Becoming (2006) by Michael Katz
Michael Katz
Michael Katz is a psychologist, former Yantra Yoga instructor, author, artist, and long time student of contemporary masters of Tibetan Buddhism and Bon. He is best known as having authored the introduction and edited the popular book Dream yoga and the Practice of Natural Light by Chogyal...

 and Mark Stern, both of the University of Pennsylvania.


The Foundation currently pursues five principal programs:
  • A program of research on the Future of Work concerned principally with the causes and consequences of changes in the quality of low-wage work in the United States and other advanced economies.
  • A program of research on current U.S. Immigration aimed at discovering how well immigrants and their children are adapting socially, politically, and economically to life in the United States, particularly as they move beyond the traditional immigrant gateway cities.
  • A program on Cultural Contact concerned with understanding and improving relations between racial and ethnic groups in schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, and other key institutional settings.
  • A program on Social Inequality, focused on the social effects of rising economic inequality, with particular attention to the ways in which the U.S. political and educational systems have responded to growing economic disparities.
  • A program of research on Behavioral Economics which incorporates the insights of psychology and other social sciences into the study of economic behavior.

The principal programs feature a number of working groups:
  • A working group in the Future of Work program on the social and economic implications of how care (child care, elder care, care for the disabled) is provided to dependent populations in the United States today.
  • A working group in the Cultural Contact program on the impact of racial, ethnic, and gender-based attitudes on law enforcement. The group is working with metropolitan police departments across the U.S. to develop policies to reduce racial bias in law enforcement.
  • A working group in the Social Inequality program examining differences between countries in the strength and timing of the transmission of economically relevant advantages between parents and their children.
  • A working group in the Behavioral Economics program exploring consumers' financial decision-making and how government regulation might protect them from financial products and services that endanger their financial well-being.

In addition to the activities sponsored under the Foundation's main programs, the Foundation also supports a range of special initiatives focused on other issues of current importance:
  • A website that reports on the social and economic condition of the country as revealed by the 2010 census and related national surveys.
  • A special project to track and analyze the social consequences of the Great Recession.
  • A special project investigating new ways of collecting social science data from the public in order to counter the growing problem of non-response to social surveys.
  • A working group on the Obama Administration's efforts to reorient U.S. public policies in a number of key areas, such as health care, education, and financial regulation.


The Foundation publishes books on a wide variety of subjects, with particular emphasis on work related to its programs. It also publishes work based on special initiatives, such as the Series on Trust and its 9/11 Initiative, and is the publisher of the American Sociological Association
American Sociological Association
The American Sociological Association , founded in 1905 as the American Sociological Society , is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the discipline and profession of sociology by serving sociologists in their work and promoting their contributions to serve society.The ASA holds its...

’s distinguished Rose Series in Sociology.

Visiting scholars program

The Russell Sage Foundation has established a center where visiting scholars can pursue their writing and research. Each year, the Foundation invites a number of scholars to its New York City headquarters to investigate topics in social and behavioral sciences. The Foundation particularly welcomes groups of scholars who wish to collaborate on a specific project during their residence at Russell Sage. While visiting scholars typically work on projects related to the Foundation’s current programs, a number of scholars whose research falls outside the Foundation’s active programs also participate.

In 1990, Robert K. Merton
Robert K. Merton
Robert King Merton was a distinguished American sociologist. He spent most of his career teaching at Columbia University, where he attained the rank of University Professor...

 became the first Foundation Scholar at Russell Sage, recognizing his long and invaluable service as an adviser to the administration and a mentor to other visiting scholars. In 2000, Nobel
Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences
The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, commonly referred to as the Nobel Prize in Economics, but officially the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel , is an award for outstanding contributions to the field of economics, generally regarded as one of the...

ist Robert M. Solow became the second Foundation Scholar, following Merton’s retirement. In 2003, the position was renamed the Merton Scholar.


The Foundation's archives are located in the Rockefeller Archive Center in Sleepy Hollow, New York
Sleepy Hollow, New York
Sleepy Hollow is a village in the town of Mount Pleasant in Westchester County, New York, United States. It is located on the eastern bank of the Hudson River, about north of midtown Manhattan in New York City, and is served by the Philipse Manor stop on the Metro-North Hudson Line.Originally...


Headquarters buildings

When the Foundation was formed, it attempted to locate its offices in the United Charities Building
United Charities Building
The United Charities Building, also known as United Charities Building Complex, at 105 East 22nd Street or 287 Park Avenue South, in the Gramercy Park neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, near the border of the Flatiron District, was built in 1893 by John S...

 on Park Avenue South and East 22nd Street in Manhattan
Manhattan is the oldest and the most densely populated of the five boroughs of New York City. Located primarily on the island of Manhattan at the mouth of the Hudson River, the boundaries of the borough are identical to those of New York County, an original county of the state of New York...

, but was unable to do so as the building was fully rented; instead, the new foundation spread out to a number of locations in the area. In 1912, Margaret Sage and Robert de Forest decided to construct a headquarters building for the Foundation which would also serve as a memorial to her late husband. They engaged Beaux-Arts architect Grosvenor Atterbury
Grosvenor Atterbury
Grosvenor Atterbury was an American architect, urban planner and writer. He studied at Yale University and then travelled in Europe. He studied architecture at Columbia University and worked in the offices of McKim, Mead & White. Much of Atterbury’s early work consisted of weekend houses for...

, who had designed the Forest Hills Gardens model housing project for the Foundation in 1908, to design the building, and purchased property at 120 East 22nd Street at the corner of Lexington Avenue, just down the street from both United Charities Building and the Church Missions House of the Episcopal Church
Episcopal Church (United States)
The Episcopal Church is a mainline Anglican Christian church found mainly in the United States , but also in Honduras, Taiwan, Colombia, Ecuador, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, the British Virgin Islands and parts of Europe...

, and a short block from Gramercy Park
Gramercy Park
Gramercy Park is a small, fenced-in private park in the borough of Manhattan in New York City, United States. The park is at the core of both the neighborhood referred to as either Gramercy or Gramercy Park and the Gramercy Park Historic District...

. The building, which was originally nine stories before a penthouse was added in the 1920s, was constructed between 1912 and 1913 and altered in 1922-1923. A fifteen-story extension on East 22nd, which Atterbury also designed, connected to the original building with a five-story "hyphen", was added between 1930 and 1931.

Atterbury's design took the form of a Renaissance Florentine
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

Palazzo, an Italian word meaning a large building , may refer to:-Buildings:*Palazzo, an Italian type of building**Palazzo style architecture, imitative of Italian palazzi...

. Because it was both headquarters for the Foundation and a physical memorial for Sage, the building was more opulently constructed than would generally be the case for a charity. Atterbury utilized expensive materials in the interior, such as rare Kingwood sandstone
Sandstone is a sedimentary rock composed mainly of sand-sized minerals or rock grains.Most sandstone is composed of quartz and/or feldspar because these are the most common minerals in the Earth's crust. Like sand, sandstone may be any colour, but the most common colours are tan, brown, yellow,...

 in the elevators. The 1922-1923 alteration added second floor sculptural panels by Rene Paul Chambellan
Rene Paul Chambellan
Rene Paul Chambellan was an American sculptor, born in West Hoboken, New Jersey.Chambellan studied at the École des Beaux-Arts and the Académie Julian in Paris and with Solon Borglum in New York City. Chambellan specialized in architectural sculpture...

 illustrating the foundation's ideals, goals and deeds.
The Foundation made available space in the main building, at no charge, to other social-service organizations, such as the Family Welfare Association of America, the American Association of Social Workers and the Library of Social Work, which took up the top two floors of the main building. Space in the 22nd Street extension was rented out, and the New York School of Social Work was the primary tenant.

The Foundation sold the building in 1949 to the Archdiocese of New York which used it as the headquarters of Catholic Charities
Catholic Charities
Catholic Charities is a network of charities whose aim is "to provide service to people in need, to advocate for justice in social structures, and to call the entire church and other people of good will to do the same." It is one of the largest charities in the United States...

, and it was sold again in 1975, after which it was converted to apartments; it is now called Sage House. The building was designated a New York City landmark in 2000, and is part of a proposed extension to the Gramercy Park Historic District.

Since 1981, the Foundation has been headquartered in a Philip Johnson
Philip Johnson
Philip Cortelyou Johnson was an influential American architect.In 1930, he founded the Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and later , as a trustee, he was awarded an American Institute of Architects Gold Medal and the first Pritzker Architecture...

-designed International Style
International style (architecture)
The International style is a major architectural style that emerged in the 1920s and 1930s, the formative decades of Modern architecture. The term originated from the name of a book by Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson, The International Style...

 building at 112 East 64th Street between Park
Park Avenue (Manhattan)
Park Avenue is a wide boulevard that carries north and southbound traffic in New York City borough of Manhattan. Through most of its length, it runs parallel to Madison Avenue to the west and Lexington Avenue to the east....

 and Lexington
Lexington Avenue (Manhattan)
Lexington Avenue, often colloquially abbreviated by New Yorkers as "Lex," is an avenue on the East Side of the borough of Manhattan in New York City that carries southbound one-way traffic from East 131st Street to Gramercy Park at East 21st Street...

 Avenues, built in 1958-1960 for the Asia Society
Asia Society
The Asia Society is a non-profit organization that focuses on educating the world about Asia. It has several centers in the United States and around the world Hong Kong, Manila, Mumbai, Seoul, Shanghai, and Melbourne...

 and Japan Society. The building is located in the Upper East Side Historic District
Upper East Side Historic District
Upper East Side Historic District is a historic district that was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. Its boundaries were increased in 2006....


External links

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