The Foundation traces its roots to the 19th century, when New Bedford, Massachusetts, built its mercantile and financial empire with the resources established by a thriving shipping industry. Eventually, various streams of family wealth flowed to Aunt Elizabeth Stone, for whom the Foundation is named, and from her to the founder, Caroline Stone Parker Huber. Thanks to Caroline's enduring generosity, the Foundation has grown from modest beginnings, distributing $20,000 in 1998, to our current annual grants of nearly $500,000 per year.
While it is difficult to determine all sources of the wealth accumulated by various family members, it is probable that financial gains derived at least in part from practices that were exploitative and oppressive. We don't know precisely what the family's shipping interests might have involved, but it is likely that our ancestors' wealth resulted from immoral pursuits considered "ordinary business practice"at the time. Similarly, as New Bedford's shipping industry declined, capital was redeployed to create a dominant textile industry that depended upon questionable labor practices among mill workers. The family's investors also benefited from the explosive growth of railroads, the establishment of which involved land grabs, displacement of indigenous peoples, and exploitation of natural resources.
Despite New Bedford's economic decline from its 19th century heyday, the family's wealth continued to grow in the 20th century through "arm's length" investment in extractive industries including the petrochemical industry, further insulated by investments in banking and finance.
We cannot undo the damage or harm resulting from building the Foundation's fortunes. We can, however, acknowledge that such harm has occurred, and apologize for our responsibility. The Trustees have every intention of putting these same resources to use to promote healing, equity, and dignity. Committed to these intentions, we look to the future.