This foundation was established in 1955 by Cornelius Vanderbilt Starr (1892-1968), who started an insurance business in Shanghai in 1919 and went on to found the AIG group, one of the world’s largest insurance companies. On his death in 1968 Mr. Starr left his estate to the foundation. Its assets are now valued at around USD 3.5 billion.
The bulk of the foundation’s grants support educational programmes (notably scholarships), medical research, environmental protection, social welfare and cultural projects in the United States. However, China features prominently in the foundation’s overseas grant-making.
In 2008, The Starr Foundation and Starr International Foundation in Switzerland announced a joint grant of $1 million for earthquake relief in China.
In 2009, the foundation donated more than $3 million to the New York-based National Committee on United States-China Relations, a nonprofit organization that encourages understanding and cooperation between the US and China.
The Starr Foundation has given a total of more than $223 million in grants to China-related organizations since 1956. China has become one of the largest overseas recipients with 9.51 percent of the foundation’s grants donated to it in the past 15 years.
Other American organisations whose work in China has received Starr Foundation support include the Asia Foundation (for legal aid programmes), AFS Intercultural Exchanges, Bridge to Asia, the Environmental Defense Fund, the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia, the Wildlife Conservation Society, Volunteers in Asia, Princeton in Asia and the Yale-China Association. (See separate entries).