The 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 twenty 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 from its inception in 1947 until her death in 1980. A renowned sportsman, Mr. Mellon generously endeavored to preserve the quality of the natural environment and to protect its wildlife. Mr. Mellon died on June 3, 1970.

The foundation Mr. Mellon founded since has grown to become one of the 50 largest philanthropic foundations in the world. The Richard King Mellon Foundation’s 2021 year-end net assets were $3.4 billion, and its Trustees in 2021 disbursed more than $150 million in grants and program-related investments.

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.