Values That Perservere

This year, The Pew Charitable Trusts celebrates 65 years of innovation designed to address the many challenges of an evolving world.

Editor’s Recommendation

More Notes from the President

October 2, 2017

Much has changed in the six-and-a-half decades since the institution’s founders—J. Howard Pew, Mary Ethel Pew, J.N. Pew Jr., and Mabel Pew Myrin—first gathered in Philadelphia to chart their values-driven mission. We are now a global research and policy organization, with a portfolio that includes public opinion research, support for the arts and the needs of the most vulnerable, and policy initiatives designed to preserve our natural resources and make government more effective in serving the needs of the public. But what is most essential remains unaltered: Our institution is steeped in the values that characterized the founders’ lives—their entrepreneurial and optimistic spirit; their integrity, humility, and inclusiveness; and their devotion to telling the truth and letting the people decide.

This issue of Trust spotlights Pew’s deep—and continuing—roots in Philadelphia. Many of our earliest grants went to educational, medical, and cultural institutions in the area. This work continues through Pew’s Philadelphia research initiative, which examines major issues, challenges, and trends in the region, and through our ongoing commitment to the people of Philadelphia and their future.

In recent years, Pew has given special attention to culture and tourism in Philadelphia as a way to create jobs, build new industries, and attract capital and innovators from around the world. It is a strategy that builds on the city’s numerous  assets, helping tell a new “Philadelphia Story” about a historic American city experiencing a renaissance. Philadelphia’s iconic and irreplaceable gardens, boulevards, and historic places—including Independence  Mall—have been restored. The Barnes Foundation and its collection of postimpressionist and early-modern art have a new home on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and the Benjamin Franklin Museum, which had fallen into serious disrepair, will reopen this summer after an extensive renovation that pays tribute to the Founding Father most associated with Philadelphia.

This edition of Trust also coincides with the retirement of Donald Kimelman, who has been with us for 16 years. As director of Pew’s Philadelphia program, Don provided able oversight for many of the civic projects described in this issue of Trust even as he helped steward the Pew Research Center. We thank him for his many contributions.

For 65 years, The Pew Charitable Trusts has persevered to live up to the values, rigor, and commitment to excellence of our founders.

Just as our work in Philadelphia helps preserve America’s heritage, our environmental work includes a long-standing commitment to help conserve the world’s marine life. The institution’s support for marine conservation began in the early 1970s with grants to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the International Oceanographic Foundation. Today, Pew is helping to lead the Antarctic Ocean Alliance, which is advocating for the creation of marine reserves in East Antarctica and the Ross Sea. A look in these pages at the stunning photos of the region by Pew marine fellow John Weller offers a glimpse at why these waters need to be protected—and what will be lost if they’re not.

In 1786, Thomas Jefferson—like Ben Franklin, a writer, inventor, diplomat, and visionary—wrote, “Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it.” That ideal—that democracy requires an informed citizenry—has animated our work since 1948. The Pew Research Center’s latest “State of the News Media” report, for example, provides a detailed look at the continuing erosion of reporting resources that is leaving the news industry undermanned, and how Americans are taking notice. In doing so, the report helps fulfill Pew’s fundamental  responsibility, as articulated by our found- ers, to strengthen institutions  that the public relies on for information that is timely, complete, and—above all—true.

For 65 years, The Pew Charitable Trusts has persevered to live up to the values, rigor, and commitment to excellence of our founders. It has been a challenging, evolving, and rewarding journey in Philadelphia and around the globe— a journey that calls on all of us to remain wise stewards of the founders’ vision in the years ahead.