The Century Foundation is a progressive non-partisan think tank, founded in 1919 and initially funded by Edward Filene, a man best known for his store's Basement (which was established as a way to make goods affordable to working people). At Mr. Filene's death in 1937, he was a close associate of President Franklin Roosevelt, and one of the leading liberal businessmen in the country. Along the way he was a leading champion of fair workplaces and employee ownership strategies, all with an eye to ensuring that economic opportunity is available to all.
Until the end of the last century, TCF was called the Twentieth Century Fund. Trustees over the years included Theodore Sorensen, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., John Kenneth Galbraith, Justice Robert Jackson and J. Robert Oppenheimer.
The Century Foundation has a strong legacy of work, including key roles in crafting the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and the critical 1937 amendments to the Social Security Act, as well as Gunnar Myrdal's writing on Vietnam. At the beginning of our current century, TCF cosponsored the National Commission on Federal Election Reform, led by former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford. The Commission's final report greatly influenced what became the Help America Vote Act. More recently, in the spring of 2011, a high-level international task force assembled by TCF called for a prompt start to talks to explore the possibilities for negotiations to end the Afghanistan conflict.
Century is an operating foundation, which means it does not make grants. Instead, it issues analyses and convenes and promotes the best thinkers and thinking across a range of public policy questions. Its work today focuses on issues of equity and opportunity in the United States, and how American values can best be sustained and advanced in a world of more diffuse power.
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