Established in October of 1988, The Brown Foundation grew out of a cooperative effort between the family of the late Oliver Brown and local community leaders. See the Brown Foundation Story. The concept was to create an entity that would serve not simply as a commemorative organization, but as a crucible for public discourse around the ongoing impact and significance of Brown v. Board of Education.
Foundation programmatic activity initially centered around the awarding of scholarships to minority students pursuing degrees in teacher education; encouraging academic research on the topic of emerging trends in access to equal educational opportunity; convening national education conferences that addressed the contemporary impact of the Brown decision and recognizing individuals involved in the civil rights movement.
The Brown Foundation operated with a volunteer staff for six years after is founding. During that period, the Foundation experienced unforeseen prominence when presented with an opportunity to save an endangered building that had been among the elementary schools named in Brown v. Board of Education. In 1990, the process of developing a plan to save this historic treasure led to working with the United States Congress and the U.S. Department of the Interior to determine if this property was suitable for designation as a unit of the National Park Service.
After two years of due diligence, on October 26, 1992 President George H.W. Bush signed into law an act, which added the old building to the roster of National Parks. From that day forward the former Monroe Elementary School, one of four buildings that served as a segregated school for African American children, would be known as Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site. With years of planning the building underwent extensive renovation and opened for visitors on the 50th anniversary of the Brown decision, May 17, 2004. The site provides visitors with interpretive exhibits used to educate and inspire present and future generations.
In 2002, the Foundation once again worked with Congress to pass legislation that established the Brown v. Board of Education 50th Anniversary Presidential Commission, which served as a federal presence for the anniversary of Brown from May 2003 until December 2004.
Our Decades of Success
Program milestones and accomplishments:
- Annually awards the Brown Foundation Teacher Quest Scholarships
- Sponsors national programs on civic engagement and diversity
- Publishes the Brown Quarterly, a national curriculum newsletter for classroom use
- Maintains an oral history collection of civil rights pioneers
- Develops educational resources on African American History
- Established four and operates one children’s library in low income communities
- Partners with Washburn University for the Oliver L. Brown Distinguished Visiting Scholar for Diversity Issues
- Created traveling exhibits on Brown v. Board of Education
- Worked with Congress to establish the Brown v. Board of Education National park and Interpretive Center
- Developed “Books for Kids” an early literacy initiative for preschools
- Assists students nationally and internationally, with competitive history programs
- Awards mini-grants for youth based diversity programs
- Hosts Commemorative Programs on May 17 for Brown v. Board. View a list of Commemorative Programs from 1989-present.
Supreme Court Case Descendant, Cheryl Brown Henderson Visit - National Archives at St. Louis