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Aetna Foundation & Timeline

Aetna Foundation History

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  • Aetna begins involvement in annual employee United Way/Combined Health Charities Appeal Campaign


  • In the aftermath of a tragic circus fire in Hartford, CT, Aetna volunteers to provide extra staffing to hospitals and temporary first-aid shelters. The company opens its 50-bed infirmary to receive casualties.


  • Aetna creates a formal Statement of Principles.


  • Aetna President Henry S. Beers makes corporate responsibility and employee volunteerism business objectives.


  • Olcott D. Smith succeeds Henry Beers as Chairman of Aetna.
  • Henry Beers delivers "Responsibility of Business to Society" address at the American Management Association.


  • Aetna implements an Equal Opportunity policy.


  • Aetna launches minority training programs.


  • Aetna participates in the life insurance industry's first Billion Dollar Fund, with the purpose of financing urban investments.


  • Aetna creates a Corporate Social Responsibility department; Edwin B. Knauft is appointed its Vice President.
  • Aetna participates in the life insurance industry's second Billion Dollar Fund.


  • Aetna creates the Aetna Foundation.
  • John H. Filer succeeds Olcott D. Smith as Chairman of Aetna.
  • Aetna implements an Affirmative Action program.


  • President Richard Nixon asks John Filer to head the Commission on Private Philanthropy and Public Needs to study the role of corporate philanthropy in the United States.
  • Aetna launches Dollars for Doers to encourage civic participation by employees.


  • The Hartford Civic Center opens, built by a public-private partnership consisting of Aetna and the City of Hartford, CT. It was the first of its kind in the nation.


  • Aetna introduces a residential loan program in its Asylum Hill neighborhood in Hartford, CT.


  • Aetna establishes the Corporate Responsibility Investment Committee.


  • Aetna Foundation prioritizes urban problems, minority youth unemployment, empowerment and health education.
  • Aetna Foundation begins the FOCUS program to address the needs of communities around Aetna's field offices.
  • Aetna Foundation creates the Neighborhood Investment Program, which becomes a nationally recognized endeavor.


  • Aetna volunteers form the Corporate Lawyers Legal Aid to the Elderly program.


  • Corporate Social Responsibility changes its name to Corporate Public Involvement.
  • Alison Coolbrith succeeds Edwin Knauft as Executive Director.
  • Aetna Foundation rewrites its grant-making priorities. They become: urban public education, youth employment, urban neighborhood revitalization, public management, civil justice reform and responsive philanthropy.


  • James T. Lynn succeeds John Filer as Chairman of Aetna.
  • Aetna's Saturday Academy begins, providing academic enrichment for students in Hartford, CT’s public middle schools.


  • Aetna Volunteer Council is established.


  • Sanford Cloud, Jr. succeeds Alison Coolbrith as Executive Director of Aetna Foundation.


  • Aetna Foundation initiates international grants program in Asia and South America.


  • Aetna Foundation adds AIDS to its priority list; grants focus on community-based services.


  • Aetna combats drunk driving by launching Eye on DUI program.


  • Aetna Foundation prioritizes immunization and primary health care for disadvantaged children, and higher education for minority students.


  • Ronald E. Compton succeeds James T. Lynn as Chairman of Aetna.


  • Michael C. Alexander succeeds Sanford Cloud, Jr. as Executive Director of the Aetna Foundation.


  • Aetna Foundation creates the Aetna Voice of Conscience Award to honor former Aetna Director and Foundation Chairman Arthur R. Ashe, Jr.


  • Marilda L. Gándara succeeds Michael Alexander as Executive Director of Aetna Foundation.


  • Aetna Foundation adopts women's cardiovascular disease prevention as the focus of health philanthropy and enters into a partnership with the American Heart Association to develop the Women's Awareness Campaign.
  • Aetna holds its first Conversation on Race, Ethnicity and Culture program.
  • The Quality Care Research Fund is established with a $15 million, five-year commitment to support innovative and applied research toward improving health outcomes for all Americans.
  • Richard L. Huber succeeds Ronald E. Compton as Chairman of Aetna.


  • Aetna Foundation adopts ‘financial literacy’ as its education focus.
  • Aetna and Aetna Foundation introduce a comprehensive visual and performing arts initiative.


  • Aetna Foundation and Aetna help found the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance, pledging $5 million.


  • Aetna Volunteer Council expands to 26 chapters from six chapters over the course of one year.
  • William H. Donaldson succeeds Richard L. Huber as Chairman of Aetna.


  • Aetna Foundation launches the Regional Grants Program, focused on community grants, emerging markets, and volunteerism.
  • John W. Rowe, M.D., succeeds William H. Donaldson as Chairman of Aetna.


  • Regional Grants Program targets improvement of women's and children's health and health disparity reduction.
  • Corporate Public Involvement and the Aetna Foundation report directly to Chairman and CEO, John W. Rowe, M.D.


  • Aetna celebrates its 150th anniversary.
  • Aetna Foundation launches Aetna Employees Reaching Out (AERO) to channel the volunteer spirit of Aetna employees.
  • Aetna Foundation focuses its giving on organizations that address racial and ethnic disparities in health care.


  • Aetna's Board of Directors contributes $45 million to the Aetna Foundation.
  • Aetna Foundation introduces the Quality of Care Grants Program to address racial and ethnic disparities in health and end-of-life care.


  • Aetna receives one of six Awards for Excellence in Workplace Volunteer Programs from Points of Light Foundation and Volunteer Center National Network.
  • Aetna Foundation awards $2.25 million to 14 nonprofit organizations through its inaugural Quality of Care Grants Program. Many of the grants were designed to ensure quality care at the end of life by addressing cultural sensitivities.


  • Ronald A. Williams succeeds John W. Rowe, M.D., as Chairman of Aetna and Aetna Foundation.
  • Aetna employees complete over one million hours of volunteer service. The milestone is recorded by Aetna Employees Reaching Out (AERO).


  • Aetna Foundation energizes health care reform among business, health and policy leaders by hosting the Health Policy Forum on Transparency and Choice in Health Care.
  • Aetna Chairman and CEO Ronald Williams, accepts the A. Leon Higginbotham Corporate Leadership Award, recognizing Aetna's long-standing record of diversity and corporate social responsibility.


  • Aetna Foundation President Marilda L. Gándara retires after 10 years of service to the Foundation and 30 years of service to Aetna.
  • The Local Market Community Building Program awards over $8 million in grants and sponsorships to 28 communities across the U.S.
  • Aetna Foundation publishes Breaking Barriers - Celebrating 27 Years of the Aetna African American History Calendar.


  • Aetna Foundation announces its grant program areas for 2010: obesity, racial and ethnic health care equity, and integrated health care.
  • Anne C. Beal, M.D., M.P.H, is appointed President of Aetna Foundation.


  • National Hispanic Health Foundation presents Aetna Foundation with its Leadership Award, for efforts to reduce health and health care disparities.


  • Aetna Foundation leads a coalition to fund and launch a study of health care quality in the state of Connecticut.
  • Mark T. Bertolini succeeds Ronald A. Williams as Chairman of Aetna and Aetna Foundation.


  • The Civic 50 survey deems Aetna the fourth most community-minded company among all of Standard & Poor's top 500 companies.


  • Garth Graham, M.D., M.P.H., is named President of Aetna Foundation.


  • Aetna Foundation launches a $4.5 million challenge to researchers to create digital health approaches that improve chronic health outcomes in underserved communities.
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