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Bruner Foundation Records

Identifier: MSS018

Scope and Contents

The Bruner Foundation Records consist of five series: the Administration Files, Educational Programs, Grants, the Rudy Bruner Award for Excellent in the Urban Environment, and Photographs. These records document the foundation's activities that have occurred since 1965 and include three directors: Richard Herson, Edith Friedman, and Janet Carter.

Administration Files, 1980-1996, contain three major types of records. The records of the Board of Trustees include correspondence, meeting minutes, and notes on the meetings taken by Janet Carter. The notes taken by Janet Carter offer a more detailed look at the meetings and are extremely useful when used in conjunction with the official minutes. The minutes contain discussions about the internal structure of the organization and about the grants made by the foundation including the Rudy Bruner Award for Excellence in the Urban Environment.

Correspondence files include general correspondence and subject files with specific organizations. The foundation's relations with the Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD) are included in this series since they worked together frequently during the Rudy Bruner Award competitions. Both Bruner and HUD saw a need in the Los Angeles area shortly after the Rodney King beating and took a research trip to gather information that would later assist with programs to help during the crisis.

The records of the executive director, Janet Carter, contain her essays and speeches, correspondence, and her involvement with the Council on Foundations and Grant makers Evaluation Network. She chaired committees in both organizations, spoke at conferences, and co-edited the Grant-makers Evaluation Network Newsletter.

Educational Programs, 1980-1996, contain four main areas of concentration. The Bruner Foundation evaluated two main educational programs called the Community Schools and the Guidance Initiative. These files consist of correspondence, staff reports on site visits, and final reports of the programs. In both cases, consultants were hired by the foundation to visit and observe the schools. Each consultant took careful notes of their visit. These notes were transcribed and make a direct link between the final reports and what exactly was occurring in the classrooms. The Community Schools Project was intended to improve classroom performance in both students and teachers. The Guidance Initiative was focused mainly on junior high school students (grades 6-8). Its purpose was to assist children by preparing them to make wise decisions about their choice of high school. Program directors and consultants wanted the students to select a high school geared toward their personal academic interests. To meet that end, they engaged the help of teachers, guidance counselors, and parents.

This series also contains information on an educational conference sponsored by the foundation on the consultants hired by the foundation to evaluate programs. These records contain correspondence, reports, notes, and, in the case of the Educational Conference, a detailed description of proceedings. Janet Carter diligently took notes of all her work. As with the Board of Trustees records, her notes fill in gaps left in the official records. Many site personnel files are followed by notes made by Janet Carter during informal meetings and telephone conversations.

The Grants Files, 1965-1995, contain correspondence, reports, and grant proposals funded by the Bruner Foundation. The primary grant topics are education, health, and Jewish concerns. Subject files include the authority or signed agreement between the foundation and the grant recipient, proposals presented to the foundation, papers written on the grant funded by the foundation and the grant's impact, meeting minutes, and conferences sponsored by the organization being funded. Two grants that demonstrate the foundation's grant making process are the Nurse Practitioners and the Crossroads School. Each contains the important aspects of the process such as the proposal, correspondence, and frequent progress reports. The Nurse Practitioners grant was made in the early part of 1970 and records the foundation's early emphasis in the field of medicine and medical training. The grant to Crossroads School was made in 1992 and is a source of information about the later emphasis of the foundation on education and evaluation.

Rudy Bruner Awards for Excellence in the Urban Environment Records, 1984-1995, are one of the most important focuses of the Bruner Foundation. This series contains records on the history of the award and its first five award cycles (1987, 1989, 1991, 1993, and 1995). These records carefully document the awards process. This series contains correspondence, meetings of both the selection committee and the task force, information gathered for the book publication, finalist information, and publicity for the award. The awards files are arranged in chronological order. The cycles occur in this order: call for entries, meetings of the selection committee, site visits by the task force, selection of finalists, publication of the awards book, and publicity for the finalists. Further information about the Rudy Bruner Awards can be found in the Board of Trustees minutes. Award applications are located in the Lockwood Memorial Library's Special Collections at the University of Buffalo (call number: MicFiche HT175.R83).

Photographs and Tapes, 1973-1994, consist of photographs of grant projects, the Rudy Bruner Awards winners, and the Rudy Bruner Awards Presentation. This collection contains four tapes, one video and three audio. The video tape is a news broadcast about the Farmer's Market, one of the finalists for the Rudy Bruner Award. One audio tape is a report given by Edith Friedman about a Physician's Assistant Conference and the other is a radio broadcast about the Senior Medical Consultants. The Physician's Assistant and Senior Medical Consultants were both programs funded by the Bruner Foundation. The third audio tape is a task force meeting prior to the selection of the winner for the 1995 Rudy Bruner Award.


  • 1980 - 1995


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to the public without restriction.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) govern the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material.

Biographical / Historical

The Bruner Foundation began in 1963 using funds donated by Rudy and Martha Bruner with the purpose of providing assistance in the areas of health care, education, and Jewish concerns. After the death of Rudy Bruner, his wife, Martha, became the president of the foundation. With the aid of their sons, Joshua and Simeon, the foundation began providing monetary assistance to the causes the foundation believed concurrent with its purpose. Throughout the foundation's history, three individuals were selected to handle the daily governance of the foundation. Richard Herson, Edith Friedman Goldenson, and Janet Carter, served the foundation as executive directors between 1969-1996. The dates of the directorship of these individuals are uncertain, but a rough estimate can be made. Edith Friedman Goldenson served as executive director of the foundation from its origins in 1963 until the mid-1970s. Richard Herson was the executive director of the foundation from the mid-1970s until January 1, 1984 when Janet Carter became the executive director until the foundation's move to Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1996.

Grants made by the foundation were limited to those which emphasized the application of knowledge rather than basic research. Foundation grants were often, though not exclusively, made to facilities with Jewish affiliation and were limited to the United States and Israel. Early concerns of the foundation involved health care and public health/preventive medicine. Many of the foundation's grants funded hospitals, health agencies, and medical schools during the 1960s and 1970s. Gradually, the focus shifted, not to exclude former concerns, but to include topics such as education and evaluation. The foundation funded a variety of educational projects in primary and secondary education such as the Lexington School for the Deaf, and the Coalition of Essential Schools. Most of these educational grants were made in New York City Schools. The foundation also took on an evaluative nature. They accessed projects and advised on the strengths, weaknesses, and possible outcomes of programs. Evaluation was an important part of the foundation's grant-making process from the beginning. All grantees were required to turn in progress reports before any grant money would be issued. By doing this, the foundation was able to evaluate the progress of the program and observe how its money was being used. The new evaluation programs accepted by the foundation in the 1980s, however, were different. In programs such as the Guidance Initiative and the Community Schools Project, the foundation's money and personnel were used to evaluate programs already in place.

In 1985, the foundation added yet another aspect to its focus. The Rudy Bruner Award for Excellence in the Urban Environment was created in memory of Rudy Bruner and his concern for the welfare of America's cities. By 1987, the first award was given. The award, given once every two years, honors those who show concern for the urban environment and its architecture by finding creative ways to better it. After the winner has been chosen, the foundation publishes a book recording the accomplishments of the finalists and the winner. The award's purpose is to promote change that significantly hinders the deterioration of cities. To do this, applicants must be aware of every aspect of urban excellence. Architectural integrity, cleanliness, and resplendence are all important to those who choose the winner of the award.

The awards cycle begins with a review of all applications by a selection committee. Over the years, the number of members of the committee has ranged from seven to twelve. Members of the committee review the applications and select five or six finalists for the award. The finalists are selected based on four criteria:

1. It must be a real place, not a plan for one. 2. The planning and implementation must be innovative. 3. The project must address social, physical, economic, and ecological factors. 4. The project must exemplify community values.

After the finalists are selected, a two to three member task force is sent to visit the site. The task force documents exactly what the finalist is doing with the project. Much of what the task force learns during the visit is later used to write a book about each finalist and the winner. The task force selects the project that best meets the four criteria as the winner of the award. Cash awards and national recognition are the benefits the Rudy Bruner Award Competition gives to its winners and participants. In 1993, the winner was awarded $25,000 and each finalist was given $1,000.

The Bruner Foundation remained headquartered in New York City until 1996. At that time, the foundation moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where the children of the late Rudy and Martha Bruner reside. Today, the Bruner Foundation's main activities include not only the Rudy Bruner Award, but also grants in education for the purposes of research and project development.


22.8 Cubic Feet (22 cartons, 2 document boxes)


The Bruner Foundation was founded in 1963 using funds donated by Rudy and Martha Bruner. The foundation began with the purpose of aiding programs in health care and preventive medicine, and programs focused on Jewish concerns. Since the 1980s, the Bruner Foundation has broadened its purpose to include educational programs, evaluation of grant programs, and urban renovation. Today, the main activity of the foundation is the Rudy Bruner Award for Excellence in the Urban Environment, given every two years.

The records consist mainly of the Bruner Foundation's activities since 1965. These documents include board minutes, grant records, educational programs, correspondence, conference proceedings, and the records of the Rudy Bruner Award for Excellence in the Urban Environment.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Presented by the Bruner Foundation, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts, September 1996.

A1996-03, A1998/99-004.

Related Materials

Bruner Foundation. Rudy Bruner Award for Excellence in the Urban Environment Applications. New York: Bruner Foundation, 1987 (call number: MicFiche HT175.R83).

University at Buffalo Libraries - Lockwood Memorial Library's Special Collections

Rudy Bruner Awards Publications:

Farbstein, Jay and Richard Wener. Rebuilding Communities: Re-Creating Urban Excellence. New York: The Bruner Foundation, 1993 (call number: HT123.F373).

Farbstein, Jay and Richard Wener. Connections: Creating Urban Excellence. New York: The Bruner Foundation, 1992.

Langdon, Philip. Urban Excellence. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Press, 1990 (call number: HT167.L32).


Bruner History. Bruner Foundation Records, 1982-1987, Ruth Lilly Special Collections and Archives, University Library, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis.

Langdon, Philip. Urban Excellence. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Publishers, 1990


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Bruner Foundation Records, 1980-1995
Processed by Debra Brookhart.
Description rules
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Repository Details

Part of the Philanthropic Studies Archives Repository

IUPUI University Library
755 W. Michigan St.
Room 0133
Indianapolis IN 46202 USA