The quality of life in New Jersey has been greatly enhanced through the benevolence of one of its most concerned citizens — J Seward Johnson, Sr. — and through the grants of the two charitable trusts established by him.
Until his death in 1983, Mr. Johnson gave generously to organizations and projects in which he was deeply interested. By establishing two charitable trusts he ensured that these programs could be carried on in the future.
As the second of the two trusts nears the end of its term, the Trustees have found a way to continue J. Seward Johnson, Sr.’s generosity to the Princeton region by establishing a fund at the Princeton Area Community Foundation to carry on the legacy he so graciously lived through support of civic, cultural, and educational activities in the Princeton area.
The Community Foundation will make grants from the fund across the Princeton area in keeping with Mr. Johnson’s interests:
Art and Cultural Enrichment: activities and other enrichment events that improve the overall quality of life.
Education: support of innovative approaches to education, and programs that hold promise for the educationally underserved (Pre-school — 12) and their families.
Health and Healthcare: opportunities in prevention and care.
Substance Abuse: emphasis is given to programs that have a measurable impact on reducing high risk behavior, especially among children and young adults.
Conservation: water, land and the environment.
Grants from the fund will be awarded through the Community Foundation’s Greater Mercer Grants program. Grants are limited to publically supported nonprofits which are tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
J. Seward Johnson, Sr. was a man of great accomplishments, broad imagination, and unbridled generosity. He was an adept businessman, an innovator, a lover of the sea, a farmer, and an art collector, among other things. A principal heir to the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical fortune, he was concerned with the challenge of giving away money in a responsible way, and established the guidelines for his grantmaking to reflect his interests and commitment to his community locally, nationally, and worldwide.
- J. Seward Johnson, Sr. founded LAWS, an organization that encourages students at secondary schools, both public and private, to better understand world law and international relationships. This has been seen by the international community as a major initiative in education.
- Concern for equity in education and providing minority students with an equal opportunity led him to support programs which provide scholarships for talented minority youth.
- A strong advocate for ensuring the quality of water in New Jersey, J. Seward Johnson, Sr. maintained a life-long commitment to improving the supply and distribution of water in the state. For nearly two decades, from the early 1930s, he and his brother, General Robert Wood Johnson, underwrote a major part of the preservation of the Delaware and Raritan Canal, now a vital part of the New Jersey park system. He was also instrumental in the creation of both Round Valley Reservoir and the Spruce Run Reservoir in Hunterdon County.
- J. Seward Johnson, Sr. recognized early on that preventative family health care was a vital part of the health care delivery system and, to that end, provided the principal financial support for the construction of the Hunterdon County Medical Center, one of the first family health centers in New Jersey. Significant support was also provided to the Princeton Medical Center. He was early in recognizing the damage that alcohol and drug abuse inflict on individuals and their families, and began to support programs offering treatment.
- Recognizing the importance of good nutrition to the establishment of better health, he was a pioneer in the breeding of Holstein and Jersey cattle in New Jersey. This led to the formation of a nationally recognized artificial breeding association, which has helped to increase world-wide milk production.
- J. Seward Johnson, Sr.’s lifelong love of the sea, concern for the environment, and intense scientific curiosity were evidenced in his financing of the exploration of the ocean floors using small submersibles. He and Edwin A. Link, inventor of the Link flight simulator, established Harbor Branch, an oceanographic institute in Florida, devoted to marine exploration and research.