The Foundation was established in 1951 by Louis Calder (1879-1963) "for educational, charitable and benevolent uses and purposes" and continues to operate as a Trust under New York State law. It was funded by gifts that Mr. Calder made during his lifetime and under his will.

Louis Calder was born in Manhattan in 1879. At the age of 17, Mr. Calder began a 66 year career in the paper industry as an office boy at Perkins-Goodwin Co., a New York City pulp and paper marketing and management firm. By 1907 he had saved enough money to buy his first shares of company stock and he was elected a director two years later and rose to become president in 1922. He successfully positioned the firm as an industry leader throughout his tenure and continued as president until his death in 1963.

Mr. Calder was among the first to recognize fast growing southern pine as an untapped, renewable resource for the production of newsprint and kraft paper reducing the industry’s dependence on Canadian timber. He was instrumental in developing the newsprint industry in the southwest with the creation of Southland Paper Mills in Texas in 1940.

While establishing Perkins-Goodwin as a leader in the industry, Mr. Calder was also a successful pioneer in the retail gasoline market. During the First World War, he originated one of the first drive-in, metered gas stations in New York. This venture, known as the Kesbec Oil Company, grew to a chain of 55 stations by 1931 when a controlling interest was sold to Standard Oil. Mr. Calder continued as president and ultimately more than 80 gas stations served customers on the parkways of New York and Westchester County.

The aggregate and appraised value of the Founder’s gifts to the Foundation was $36,399,017. Grant payments have totaled $278,258,236 since 1951 and the market value of the Trust was $183,822,034 as of October 31, 2019.