The Educational Foundation of America is a family foundation launched in 1959 to continue the lifelong philanthropic commitment of its founders, Richard Prentice Ettinger and his wife, Elsie P. Ettinger.
Mr. Ettinger earned a JD from New York University Law School at age 18 and, too young to sit for the bar exam in New York, began his career teaching finance at NYU. Disappointed with the teaching materials available to him, he wrote a textbook on creditors’ rights. This sparked the creation, with a colleague at NYU, of Prentice-Hall Publishing - which drew its name from their grandmothers’ maiden names.
In launching EFA, Mr. Ettinger realized that tomorrow’s problems would not necessarily be the same as those facing his generation. As a result, he insisted there be flexibility in the Foundation's grant making goals so that future generations could address the most pressing issues of their time.
The name of the Foundation speaks to Mr. Ettinger's commitment to education, particularly higher education. He also prioritized access to reproductive healthcare and the environment as grantmaking goals. Mr. Ettinger made effective and innovative grants that set a pattern of effective giving that the present Foundation emulates.
As members of the second generation, two of Mr. Ettinger’s children, the late Richard P. Ettinger, Jr. and the late Elaine P. Hapgood, continued the heritage of their father’s charitable giving. Richard P. Ettinger, Jr., was greatly influenced by Dee Brown’s book Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, and began a lifelong commitment of funding Native American causes. True to the traditions established by his father, he stood for many years in the vanguard of Native American advocacy. In particular, he fought to provide educational opportunities to Native Americans and catalyzed the needs of the Native community as a philanthropic focus for other foundations.
Elaine Hapgood was similarly inspired after attending an International Planned Parenthood Foundation Conference in then Pakistan (now Bangladesh). She subsequently chose to dedicate her life to ensuring the availability of reproductive health services to all. She has also committed herself to promoting environmental preservation and conservation, which has become a focal point of EFA funding.
Today, EFA's Board is comprised of members of the third and fourth generation of the family.