Our history

The Foundation was established in 1978 by Jerry Greene, real estate attorney, philanthropist and consummate New Yorker. Born in Brooklyn in 1909, Jerry attended Columbia College and graduated from the Law School in 1928. He went on to become a founding member of the Manhattan law firm Marshall, Bratter, Greene, Allison & Tucker. Among many honors, Jerry received the Judge Learned G. Hand Human Relations Award and an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Columbia Law School as well as an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from the Juilliard School. He also received the Citizens Committee’s Oscar S. Straus Award for Philanthropy on Behalf of New York City.

Jerry Greene

Jerry Greene

As a longtime member of Lincoln Center’s board of directors and emeritus council, Jerry underwrote the Center’s annual “Mostly Mozart” festival in celebration of his favorite composer. He also served as a trustee of the Juilliard School, where he established the Jerome Greene Fellowships in 1985. Given annually to music, dance, and drama students, his was the first scholarship fund in the School’s history to benefit students in all three divisions. Recently, the Foundation provided a new grant to augment the scholarship fund.

Jerry served as chairman of the board of the Hirshhorn Museum of the Smithsonian Institution, where the Foundation is supporting an important surrealist sculpture show which opened in October 2015.

A trustee of Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx for 27 years, Jerry believed that the success of Montefiore’s commitment to broader health issues and its long tradition of social responsibility were directly related to neighborhood preservation and improvement. Setting an agenda not only to refurbish the hospital but to invest in the redevelopment and rehabilitation of the surrounding area, he founded the Mosholu Preservation Corporation (MPC), Montefiore’s not-for-profit community development support corporation, with a generous personal gift. Today, the medical center sits in a stable and vibrant community. In 1997 Jerry underwrote The Jerome L. and Dawn Greene Medical Pavillion which provides outpatient community care to local seniors. The Greenes and the Foundation became primary benefactors of the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore and its world renowned pediatric oncology division.

In keeping with their interests in medicine and education, the Greenes were also long term supporters of Planned Parenthood’s family planning program, a commitment which the Foundation continues in innovative ways.

Clockwise: Jerry, Isaac Stern, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Eliot Feld, Robin Williams, June Larkin, Joseph Polisi

1991 Recipients of Honorary Degrees from Juilliard (clockwise): Jerry, Isaac Stern, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Eliot Feld, Robin Williams, June Larkin, Joseph Polisi

Jerry’s most enduring and meaningful relationship was with Columbia University. He said, “I feel an obligation to the schools that gave me the tools to do what I’ve been able to do.” He supported the renovation of the Law School’s home at Greene Hall; he endowed scholarships and the Jerome Greene Fund for Clinical Education at the Law School. Foundation funds built the Infectious Disease Laboratory at the Mailman School of Public Health.  Seven years after his death, in 2006, Dawn Greene and the Foundation pledged to underwrite the Jerome L. Greene Science Center, which will be the nation’s largest private science center devoted to brain and mind research. The Greene Family and the Foundation have contributed nearly $300 million to benefit the University.

Dawn Greene with portrait

Dawn Greene at the Jerome L. Greene portrait unveiling in 2000.

Dawn Greene flanked by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Columbia University President Lee Bollinger announcing the Foundation's pledge for the Jerome L. Greene Science Center

Dawn Greene flanked by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Columbia University President Lee Bollinger announcing the Foundation’s pledge for the Jerome L. Greene Science Center

During her time as president and CEO, beginning in 1999, Jerry’s wife, Dawn, furthered the Foundation’s mission. She enthusiastically supported the expansion of Columbia University by underwriting the Jerome L. Greene Science Center. In 2007, the Foundation pledged $6 million to WNYC to create the Jerome L. Greene Performance Space in Lower Manhattan, created the Jerome L. Greene Endowed Scholarship Fund at the Yale School of Drama, helped establish the Jerome L. Greene Family Center to support the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge initiative, and created the Jerome L. Greene Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Center at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Hospital.

In 2010, Christina McInerney succeeded her mother as president and CEO of the Foundation. In 2014, the Foundation pledged $10 million to New York Public Radio—the largest gift ever made to a public radio station—to support the organization’s development of new digital products and platforms. Crucial support has been given to Calvary Hospital to provide hospice care in Manhattan and to Johns Hopkins to undertake fundamental research in the rheumatic diseases. With investments in scholarships to support international study at the Fashion Institute of Technology and exhibits at the Jewish Museum, the Museum of the City of New York and the Hirshhorn in Washington DC, the Foundation continues to create opportunities for New Yorkers to develop intellectually and explore the world.

Since Jerry started the Foundation almost 40 years ago, it has invested over $400 million in partners like Calvary Hospice Care, Columbia University, the Fashion Institute of Technology, the Hirshhorn Museum, the Jewish Museum, Johns Hopkins, the Juilliard School, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Montefiore Hospital and Medical Center, New York Public Radio, The North Star Fund, PEN American Center, Planned Parenthood, ProPublica, Third Street Music School, WNET/Channel Thirteen, the Yale School of Drama and the American Cancer Society. As of December 2015, a total of 1,270 individuals had received scholarship or research support from the Foundation. The Foundation is proud to join forces with smart organizations to help people live better and longer lives.