The Carson Family Charitable Trust: New York City Grants

OVERVIEW: The Carson Family Charitable Trust is the charitable vehicle of investment firm cofounder Russell L. Carson, his wife Judy, and children. Carson's New York City philanthropy focuses in on education reform, where Carson has been a proponent of the charter school model, supporting local hospitals, and local arts and culture, and community development. The Carson family serves on many New York area boards.

IP TAKE: The foundation has been around since 1990, but doesn't really have a web presence, or a clear way to get in touch with the family. The Carsons' daughter, Cecily, who serves as president of the foundation, appears to be the most accessible, and would likely be the best person to reach out to. Between $20 million and $35 million has gone out of the door annually of late.

FUNDING AREAS: Education, Health, Arts & Culture, Community Development

PROFILE: Russell Carson is in his 70s and has been involved in philanthropy for decades. Carson attended public high school in Toledo, Ohio before going on to Dartmouth College, and then Columbia Business School. The Carson Family Charitable Trust was founded in 1990 and Carson, his wife Judy, and children serve as trustees. The Carsons' daughter Cecily is particularly active in civic life, and serves on such boards as the Robin Hood Foundation. Carson, meanwhile, is the chair of the board of trustees of Rockefeller University, and on the board of overseers of Columbia Business School.

While some of the foundation's largest sums in education have gone to Dartmouth College, millions have also gone to Rockefeller University in New York City, with at between $1 million and $4 million going to the school past years. A long trail of gifts to the school last decade total at least $25 million. The Carson Foundation has also supported Columbia Business School, where Carson got his M.B.A., but the giving here as been more modest.

Carson has a strong interest in education reform. He's a cofounder of the Endowment Fund for Inner-City Education, now known as Partnership for Inner-City Education, a school management organization for a network of Catholic elementary schools in Harlem and the South Bronx. Carson has said that he believes in the charter school model and he has a particular interest in improving Catholic schools. Around $1 million annually has gone to Partnership for Inner-City Education of late. Support has also gone to KIPP New York, Teach for America, Achievement First, a network of public charter schools in New York and other northeast states, Friends of Bronx Charter School, among others. It's worth mentioning that Judy Carson is a founder of “Learning to Look,” a program that teaches art appreciation to inner-city children of the Archdiocese of New York.

The Carson Foundation also makes grants in New York City supporting health. Carson sits on the board of trustees of New York Presbyterian Hospital, which received at least $1 million in several years. Support has also gone to the New York Stem Cell Foundation, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the New York Genome Center, among others. A component of Carson's philanthropy also involves rehabilitation, though a lot of this work isn't just focused on New York City.

The foundation has also supported New York arts and culture, with recent money going to outfits such as , the Philharmonic-Symphony Society, the Met, the Museum of Art and Design, New York Public Library, and the American Museum of Natural History.

Carson has also been a strong supporter of the Robin Hood Foundation in New York, where Cecily has served on the board. Between $1.25 and $1.5 million went to the antipoverty outfit in past years. Other work in this area has included helping children and youth, with support going to the Harlem Children's Zone, and to the Red Hook Initiative in Brooklyn, which runs programs in areas such as education and health for youth. Carson is right of center politically and has given to conservative policy outfits such as the Manhattan Institute in New York, and the American Enterprise Institute in Washington D.C.

Unfortunately, the Carson Family Charitable Trust doesn't have a website, or list guidelines for grantseekers to get in touch.


  • Cecily Carson, President and Trustee
  • Russell Carson, Trustee
  • Judith Carson, Trustee
  • Edward S. Carson, Trustee


The Carson Family Charitable Trust
114 W. 47th Street
New York, NY 10036