The JM Foundation is a family foundation for descendants of Jeremiah Milbank, an investment banker whose grandfather supported the research that led to the creation of condensed milk. The foundation supports center-right nonprofits and the Boys and Girls Club of America.
The Milbank family
Creation of the Family Fortune
In 1857 Gail Borden perfected the process of condensing milk, making milk a shelf-stable product protected against spoilage. But Borden lacked the capital to market his invention until a chance meeting with the first Jeremiah Milbank, who advanced enough capital to enable Borden to market his product. Both Borden and Milbank made substantial fortunes during the Civil War selling canned milk to the Union Army. Milbank used his share to create an investment banking company and to back the transcontinental Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad. 1
The second Jeremiah Milbank eventually led his grandfather’s firm and took interest in philanthropy, notably in helping the disabled. The JM Foundation’s grants for to support the disabled were spun off as the Milbank Foundation for Rehabilitation in 1995.
A second interest was the Boys Clubs of America, which Milbank helped transform from a federation of local clubs to a national organization in 1931. Individual clubs honor leading donors by inducting them into the club’s “Jeremiah Milbank Society.” 2
Milbank was an active Republican and a leading fundraiser for Herbert Hoover in 1928. He declined a post in the Hoover administration, saying “the one thing I want to do is stay out of a Washington.” 3 Milbank donated $250,000 to the Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank named for President Hoover at Stanford University, in 1968, and when Richard Nixon asked him for advice on a running mate, Milbank said that then-California Gov. Ronald Reagan (R) “would add the greatest strength to the ticket as a campaigner for this election.” 4
Jeremiah Milbank, Jr.
Milbank’s son, Jeremiah Milbank, Jr., continued his father’s tradition of supporting center-right nonprofits. In an appreciation, John J. Miller noted that among Milbank’s achievements was helping to create the Institute for Educational Affairs (IEA) in the 1970s, an organization that helped to create the Federalist Society, the Collegiate Network, and the Philanthropy Roundtable. “The JM Foundation was a key backer of the IEA,” Miller wrote, “and Milbank was a steady presence at its board meetings.” 5
Jeremiah Milbank, III
Since 2007, the J M Foundation has been headed by Jeremiah Milbank III, who said in 2007 that “everyone in the family believes in limited government, economic freedom, and personal responsibility.” 6
The largest grant the JM Foundation made in 2020 was $290,000 to the Hoover Institution, followed by $260,000 to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, including one grant to the national organization and two local clubs. Most of the remaining grants went to 12 center-right organizations, with the largest grants going to Entitlements How ($75,000), the James Madison Institute ($50,000) and the Center for American Greatness ($35,000). 7
- “The Quiet Milbank Millions,” Fortune,, May 1959.For more information about the Milbank family, see Martin Morse Wooster. How Great Philanthropists Failed and You Can Succeed At Protecting Your Legacy (Washington, D.c.: Capital Research Center, 2017), 227-235.
- For an example, see https://www.bgccc.org/donate/jeremiah-milbank-society/ (accessed December 6, 2021)
- John Briggs, The Face of A Family (Greenwich, Connecticut: J M Foundation, 1992), 43.
- John Briggs, The Face of a Family (Greenwich, Connecticut: J M Foundation, 1992), 75. For an obituary see ”Jeremiah Milbank, A Financier Who Aided The Crippled, Dead,” New York Times, March 23, 1972.
- John J. Miller, “Jeremiah Milbank Jr.,” Philanthropy, September/October 2007. See also Douglas Martin, “Jeremiah Milbank Jr., Donor and G.O.P. Official, Dies at 87,” New York Times, August 19, 2007.
- John J. Miller, “Jeremiah Milbank Jr.,” Philanthropy, September/October 2007.
- See JM Foundation, “Grants Awarded in 2020,” https://fdnweb.org/jm/grants/category/grants-awarded/ (accessed December 6, 2021)