Foundation Beginnings

Our History

The Richard King Mellon Foundation was created in 1947 by Richard King Mellon, president and chairman of Mellon Bank, a conservationist and leading figure in the financial and civic life of Pennsylvania.

Richard King Mellon was born in Pittsburgh on June 19, 1899, the son of Richard Beatty Mellon and Jennie King Mellon. Mr. Mellon served his country in both World Wars and in peacetime, attaining the rank of Lieutenant General, United States Army Reserve, and receiving the Distinguished Service Medal.

He was president of Mellon National Bank and for 20 years Chairman of the Board of Mellon National Bank and Trust Company; as a director, he aided the growth of many of the nation’s leading enterprises, particularly Gulf Oil Corporation and Aluminum Company of America. As President and Governor of T. Mellon and Sons, Mr. Mellon inspired and led the rebirth of Pittsburgh as a great American city; his creative energies forged the Pittsburgh Renaissance, a nationally recognized architectural, civic, social, and educational venture.

In 1936 Mr. Mellon married the former Constance Mary Prosser, who served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Richard King Mellon Foundation for 33 years, from its inception in 1947 until her death.

Since its founding, the Foundation has disbursed more than $3 billion in grants and program-related investments, for the benefit of Richard King Mellon’s beloved Pittsburgh and beyond. A renowned sportsman, Mr. Mellon generously endeavored to preserve the quality of the nation’s natural environment and to protect its wildlife. The Foundation’s conservation program so far has helped to preserve more than 4.5 million acres of environmentally precious land across the United States, an initiative that has benefited all 50 states.

The Richard King Mellon Foundation is one of two Mellon family-founded philanthropies to be ranked among the world’s largest. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, named for Richard King Mellon’s uncle, the former U.S. Treasury secretary, is a separate philanthropic foundation headquartered in New York City.