Commitment to community.

Philanthropy and charitable giving

A focus of New York Life’s philanthropy has been supporting organizations that enhance education and awareness of America’s history related to slavery: 

  • As noted above, twenty years ago, New York Life donated its archival records from the slavery era to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a national research library devoted to collecting, preserving and providing access to resources documenting the experiences of people of African descent throughout the world. This library is a part of the New York Public Library system, and our records are now part of its permanent archives available for public viewing. We also donated more than $2 million to support the Schomburg Center’s operations and to create aJunior Scholars Program, which promotes historical literacy among African-American youth through intensive study of the Schomburg Center’s archives. Our most recent grant in 2022 was a $500,000, 2-year grant to the Schomburg’s Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery at the Center, to digitize New York Life’s archival records, and support genealogy workshops, conferences, community events and further research.

  • We sponsored two PBS television series, “The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow” and “Slavery and the Making of America,” and as part of the sponsorships, funded a website for educators on the Jim Crow era and other educational efforts. In 2022 we provided additional funding for the producers to construct a fuller and more robust prototype for an interactive website based on an episode of the documentary series.

We have also focused our giving on support for organizations and initiatives that assist in genealogical research related to slavery:

  • New York Life was a founding donor of the International African American Museum, which opened in Charleston, South Carolina during the summer of 2023. Our contributions supported the museum’s Center for Family History – where individuals can learn more about their family history using the Center’s collection of primary sources, documents, and texts. Our funds will also support workshops and educational programming at the Center.

  • We have supported the Association for the Study of African American Life & History, which offers genealogy and family history workshops to the public and works with local partners to hold information sessions.  In New York, the association has worked with the Schomburg Center, where we donated the company’s records related to the slavery era.

This represents a small portion of our long history of charitable giving to uplift the Black community.  Over the past 10 years, 28% of our grants, or more than $52 million, has funded programs and services supporting the African American community. 

  • New York Life was a founding donor of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture – and has contributed $1.5 million to the museum.

  • New York Life has donated $4 million to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund dating back to 2007, including a multi-year commitment and partnership with the organization.

  • Our company contributed $100,000 to the Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission to support the Teacher’s Institute and the National Day of Learning to help train educators on how to teach the history of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre in a culturally sensitive way, via actionable and peer-reviewed lesson plans they can take back to their classrooms.

  • We awarded a $500,000 grant to The Steve Fund, to develop and implement bereavement programming for young students of color and school staff; and college students, faculty and staff from HBCUs in collaboration with multicultural mental health experts.
    We have provided $1 million to Howard University and $1.5 million to Hampton University to support scholarships, internships, on-campus and alumni engagement, “gap funding” to help students eliminate unmet financial needs, as well as a fund and programming for students affected by the loss of a loved one while in school.

  • We contributed $1.25 million to The American College’s Center for Economic Empowerment and Equality to support the College’s commitment to closing the racial wealth gap through: (1) financial education programs for Black women, (2) the Center’s scholarship programs for HBCU and early-career financial professionals, and (3) a new approach to study groups for Black financial professionals.

  • New York Life has provided $600,000 to The HistoryMakers to develop and expand a two-module curriculum for middle school students based on stories about Black leaders from their digital archives, to increase knowledge of African American accomplishments and history makers by students and teachers.

  • In 2023, we provided a grant to While We are Still Here to support the Harlem Heritage Markers Project. The project will place approximately twelve markers throughout the Harlem community to memorialize the places where prominent African American individuals lived, performed, or worked.

  • New York Life supported the Low Income Investment Fund’s Early Care and Education (ECE) program with a $500,000 grant. ECE home-based providers are small businesses that are typically owned and operated by women of color, serve 1-14 children at a given time and employ 1-5 individuals with revenues of $1MM or less. The program will provide grants and loans to providers to help enhance facilities and increase their business capacity.

Go back to our newsroom to read more stories.