"Few aspects of American society are more characteristically, more famously American than the nation's array of voluntary organizations, and the support in both time and money that is given to them by its citizens." — John H. Filer, former Chairman of Aetna and the Commission on Private Philanthropy and Public Needs.
A History of Commitment to Healthier Communities
John H. Filer is widely recognized as the "Father of Corporate Philanthropy." He strongly believed that corporations have an obligation to their communities, and believed both giving and volunteering are vital to building and maintaining healthy communities. As Aetna's Chairman in 1972, Filer created the Aetna Foundation, the independent philanthropic arm of Aetna.
In 1973, President Richard Nixon asked Filer to head the Commission on Private Philanthropy and Public Needs to study the role of philanthropy in the United States. The Commission became known as the "Filer Commission."
Legacy of Caring
While Filer made Aetna a national leader in corporate philanthropy, the company's legacy of giving and helping others actually began long before his tenure and the Aetna Foundation.
Aetna's annual employee United Way/Combined Health Charities Appeal Campaign was initiated in 1931. In 1944, after a tragic circus fire in Hartford, Connecticut, Aetna volunteers provided extra staffing to hospitals and first aid shelters. In 1959, Aetna President Harry Beers identified corporate responsibility and employee volunteerism as key business objectives, articulating a philosophy that had long been in practice. These activities set the stage for the culture of caring that continues today.
Aetna and the Aetna Foundation have supported America's most compelling issues in its home state of Connecticut and nationally. The Aetna Foundation has strengthened disease prevention programs; helped revitalize neighborhoods; supported the arts, education and people in need; and listened to the voices of difference that shape our nation. Since 1980 Aetna and the Aetna Foundation have contributed $394 million in grants and sponsorships.
Today, we focus our grant-making on issues that can lead to meaningful improvements in health and the health care system.
Our mission is to promote wellness, health, and access to high-quality health care for everyone, while supporting the communities
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