The History of the Fund

Philanthropist, lawyer, businessman, Zanvyl Krieger was devoted to the future of Baltimore City. A graduate of Baltimore City College and Johns Hopkins University, Mr. Krieger attended Harvard Law School. A life-long Baltimore resident, Mr. Krieger practiced law and pursued business and civic ventures. Mrs. Krieger, originally from New York, amassed countless hours as a dedicated, long-time volunteer at Baltimore’s Sinai Hospital Emergency Room. 

Believing that Baltimore needed major league sports teams, Mr. Krieger was part of a small group that brought professional football to Baltimore in 1953. The following year, he also was instrumental in bringing the Orioles to Baltimore, and remained an integral member of the ownership group until the team was eventually sold in 1979. During Mr. Krieger's involvement, the Colts and the Orioles won two world championships apiece. Other ventures followed, including Mr. Krieger's investment in 1964 in a start-up company called U.S. Surgical. 

The success of the company enabled him to deepen his civic involvement. Along with first Fund President, Robert I. Hiller, Mr. Krieger sought to create a foundation that would not only support the important institutions of Baltimore City but also the enduring needs of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. The result was the 1977 creation of the first support foundation, a new legal entity recognized under Section 509(a)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code as a foundation with its own mission wedded to the perpetual support of an existing organization.


The Early Years

At first, the Zanvyl and Isabelle Krieger Fund focused on supporting large institutions that benefitted the residents of Baltimore City. A series of endowment gifts by the Fund enabled what is now Kennedy Krieger Institute to leverage additional funding from the State of Maryland. In 1987, the Fund provided an $8 million grant to the Johns Hopkins University to establish the Krieger Mind Brain Institute 

The Fund was instrumental in the growth of the Krieger Children’s Eye Center at the Wilmer Institute of Johns Hopkins. It also established the Sinai Krieger Eye Center that led to a partnership between Sinai Hospital and the Wilmer Institute, and endowed chairs were created for Pediatric Urology at Johns Hopkins Hospital and Children’s Health at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. 

Mr. Krieger’s long association with his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University, was further strengthened in 1992 when the Fund made an unprecedented $50 million challenge grant to the School of Arts and Sciences. In 1996 the Maryland Chapter of the National Society of Fund Raising Professionals honored Zanvyl Krieger as Philanthropist of the Year. At the time it was estimated that Mr. Krieger personally and through the Zanvyl and Isabelle Krieger Fund, had given over $100 million to charity.

Building on the Legacy

Upon Zanvyl Krieger's death in 2000 at the age of 94, the Board of the Krieger Fund made a commitment to continue his work of investing in people with ideas that hold promise for the future of Baltimore City and its residents. In the 1990’s the Krieger Fund re-focused on programs providing for the most underserved populations of Baltimore City. 

It was during this time that the Fund shifted its grant-making to an increased number of smaller organizations. The Krieger Fund continues to work in collaboration with other funders to seed new initiatives and support existing programs working to improve life in the city, and stimulate social reform.