The Ford Foundation is a charitable foundation based in New York City created to fund programs that promote democracy, reduce poverty and promote international understanding. The current chair is Susan V. Berresford.
The Ford Foundation was founded in 1936 with grants from Henry Ford and his son Edsel Ford of the Ford Motor Company. Initially, the foundation was used to support Ford family causes, such as Henry Ford Hospital and Greenfield Village and Henry Ford Museum.
After the deaths of Henry Ford in 1947 and Edsel Ford in 1943, the Ford Foundation commissioned a report to determine how the foundation should continue. The committee, headed by H. Rowan Gaither, recommended that the foundation should commit to promoting peace, freedom, and education throughout the world. To provide funding for various projects, the board of directors decided to diversify the foundation's portfolio and gradually divested itself of its substantial Ford Motor Company stock between 1955 and 1974. Through this divestiture, the Ford Motor Company became a public company in 1956.
Other than its name, the Ford Foundation has not had any connections to the Ford Motor Company nor the Ford family for over thirty years. Henry Ford II, the last remaining Ford on the board of directors, resigned from the foundation board in 1976 due to his frustration with what he believed was the foundation's arrogance and anti-capitalist attitudes.
As of the end of the 2004 fiscal year, the foundation reported a total investment portfolio of $10.5 billion, giving out around $520 million in grants for the year.
In 2005, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox began a probe of the foundation. Though the Ford Foundation is headquarted in New York City, it is chartered in Michigan, giving the state jurisdiction. Cox is focusing on its governance, potential conflicts of interest among board members, and its poor record of giving to charities in Michigan. Between 1998 and 2002, the Ford Foundation gave Michigan charities about $2.5 million per year, far less than many other charities. Cox is hoping that this probe will prod the foundation into giving more to Michigan charities. 
Certain critics such as former Binghamton University professor James Petras have criticized the Foundation for links with the CIA. Petras cites former Foundation president Richard Bissell's relationship with DCI Allen Dulles and involvement with the Marshall Plan during the 1950s. Petras also criticises the Ford Foundation for funding what he terms "anti-leftist" human rights groups that "do not participate in anti-globalization and anti-neoliberal mass actions."
Another American academic, Joan Roelofs, in Foundations and Public Policy: The Mask of Pluralism (State University of New York Press, 2003,) argues that Ford and similar foundations play a key role in co-opting opposition movements: "While dissent from ruling class ideas is labeled 'extremism' and is isolated, individual dissenters may be welcomed and transformed. Indeed, ruling class hegemony is more durable if it is not rigid and narrow, but is able dynamically to incorporate emergent trends." She reports that John J. McCloy, while chairman of the Foundation's board of trustees, "...thought of the Foundation as a quasi-extension of the U.S. government. It was his habit, for instance, to drop by the National Security Council (NSC) in Washington every couple of months and casually ask whether there were any overseas projects the NSC would like to see funded." Roelofs also charges that the Ford Foundation financed counter-insurgency programs in Indonesia and other countries.
- Paul Arthur Allaire, Chairman of the Board
- Alain J.P. Belda, Chairman/CEO, Alcoa Inc.
- Afsaneh M. Beschloss, President/CEO, Carlyle Asset Management Group
- Anke A. Ehrhardt, Director, HIV Ctr for Clinical and Behavioral Studies NY State Psychiatric Institute
- Kathryn Fuller, Ex-President/CEO, World Wildlife Fund (as of 2005), now Director of Alcoa
- Juliet V. Garcia, President, University of Texas at Brownsville/Texas Southmost College
- Wilmot G. James, Executive Director, Social Cohesion and Integration Research Programme, Human Sciences Research Council, Cape Town, South Africa
- Yolanda Kakabadse, Executive President, Fundacion Futuro Latinoamericano, Quito, Ecuador
- Wilma P. Mankiller, Former Principal Chief, Cherokee Nation, Park Hill, Oklahoma
- Richard Moe, President, National Trust for Historic Preservation
- Yolanda T. Moses, President, The American Association for Higher Education
- Luis G. Nogales, Managing Partner, Nogales Investors, LLC, Los Angeles, California
- Deval L. Patrick, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, The Coca-Cola Company
- Ratan N. Tata, Chairman, Tata Industries Limited, Mumbai, India
- Carl B. Weisbrod, President, Alliance for Downtown New York, Inc.
- W. Richard West, Director, National Museum of the American Indian
- Susan V. Berresford, President, The Ford Foundation
Recipients of funding
- Eric Thomas Chester, 1995 The Ford Foundation in Covert Network: Progressives, the International Rescue Committee, and the CIA. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe.
- Frances Stonor Saunders (2001), The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters, New Press, ISBN 1-56584-664-8. [Aka, Who Paid the Piper?: The CIA and the Cultural Cold War 1999, Granta (UK edition)].
- Edward H Berman The Ideology of Philanthropy: The influence of the Carnegie, Ford, and Rockefeller foundations on American foreign policy, State University of New York Press, 1983. Excerpt available here
- David Ransom, The Trojan Horse: A Radical Look at Foreign Aid, pub. 1975, pp. 93-116 "1970 Ford Foundation : Building an Elite for Indonesia".
- Bob Feldman, "Alternative Media Censorship sponsored by CIA's Ford Foundation?"
- Scott Sherman "Target Ford" (2006), in The Nation.
- The Ford Foundation Website
- G. William Domhoff, 'The Ford Foundation in the Inner City: Forging an Alliance with Neighborhood Activists' Posted 7 September 2005.
- James Petras The Ford Foundation and the CIA: A documented case of philanthropic collaboration with the Secret Police Rebelión 15 December 2001
- Ford Foundation, a philanthropic facade for the CIA Voltaire Network, April 5, 2004.
- Time for Ford Foundation & CFR to Divest? Collaboration of the Rockefeller, Ford and Carnegie Foundations with the Council on Foreign Relations.
- List of grant recipients can be found on the Ford Foundation's grant database.
- Ford Foundation, extract from Who Rules America by G. William Domhoff, (1967) Spectrum Books, pp. 65-8.
- ^Daniel Howes Ford Foundation probed; AG claims Mich. left out Detroit News 2006-04-02
- ^James Petras The Ford Foundation and the CIA: A documented case of philanthropic collaboration with the Secret Police Rebelión 15 December 2001