John J. and Helena S. Raskob established the Raskob Foundation for Catholic Activities, Inc. in 1945. The Foundation has its corporate offices at "Irisbrook," the former residence of Mr. Raskob's brother, William F. Raskob, in Greenville, Delaware, a suburb of Wilmington. The Foundation is international in scope, accepting applications from around the world.
John J. Raskob, a financier, corporate executive and director of the DuPont Company, the General Motors Corporation, and the Bankers Trust Company, among others, conceived of and commissioned the construction of the Empire State Building in New York City. He was one-time Chairman of the National Democratic Committee and headed the 1928 Presidential campaign of New York State Governor Al Smith.
Helena S. Green Raskob was a dedicated Catholic, the Greene family having been members of the Roman Catholic Church for over 285 years. She was a direct descendant of Thomas Greene, one of the first colonists of Maryland, who came to the “New World” in 1634 aboard the “Ark” with Governor Leonard Calvert’s expedition. Thirteen years later, Thomas Greene was to become the Governor of Maryland. Helena studied music at the Conservatory of Leffson-Hille in Philadelphia and later taught piano. She was a warm compassionate person and dedicated philanthropist, intuitively sensitive to the feelings of others. She was particularly aware of and helpful to those in need, respecting their concerns and individuality.
Mr. and Mrs. Raskob were Roman Catholics with a simple but profound vision. They believed that God had blessed them abundantly, and that they, in turn, were called to give thanks through personal service and generous financial support of the Church. They envisioned that this call to service and religious philanthropy would be a legacy for their descendants, to be handed on from generation to generation. They modeled an approach to philanthropy emphasizing behind the scenes, practical and pastoral grant-making.
The Foundation that John J. and Helena S. Raskob established continues in their memory. Today the Foundation involves over 100 Members of the Raskob Family, reaching to five generations and has distributed more than $150 million in grants to Catholic organizations and programs throughout the world. Each year, the Members of the Foundation review over 1,000 requests from within the United States and around the world and distribute millions of dollars. The Members of the Foundation are committed to continuing the work and the organization that John J. and Helena established, and to exercising the privilege given them, namely, the opportunity to support the works of the Catholic Church and help make a difference in the lives of others, particularly those less fortunate.
More information about John J. Raskob is available at http://www.hagley.org/online_exhibits/raskob/index.html.