The Bradley Brothers

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee is the philanthropic legacy of two entrepreneurial brothers, Lynde and Harry Bradley.  In 1901, while working for Milwaukee Electric, Lynde came up with what he thought was a better way to build the controllers that regulate motor speed.  He soon quit his job, secured a small $1,000 investment from his lifelong friend and “father figure” Dr. Stanton Allen, and co-founded the Allen-Bradley Company with his brother in 1903.

Believing strongly in the dignity and worth of each human being, the Bradley brothers were committed to preserving and defending the institutions of free, representative government and private enterprise that have enabled America and the entire Western world to realize that dignity.  The Bradleys believed that the good society is a free society.

Spanning 80 years -- owing much to the brothers’ sound strategic decisions, their hard work and that of their employees, and the perseverance of all of them -- the business they created well-maximized its opportunities and greatly expanded its market share.  In 1985, its value had skyrocketed to the point where Rockwell International bought it for $1.65 billion.  The sale, 20 years after Harry’s death, boosted The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation’s assets from less than $14 million to more than $290 million, suddenly putting it among the largest foundations in the United States.  Since 1996, it has been headquartered in the historic and architecturally significant Lion House on Milwaukee’s East Side.

Steadfastly adhering to the Bradley brothers’ donor intent, the Bradley Foundation remains dedicated to its mission strengthening the institutions, principles, and values that nurture and sustain the American Experiment and the West.  Among other things, our programs support limited, competent government and a dynamic marketplace for economic, intellectual, and cultural activity.  We also recognize that responsible self-government depends on enlightened citizens.

Since 1985, the Foundation has made more than $530 million in grant awards to organizations that pursue its mission.  With humane leadership, a growing reputation for effective strategic philanthropy, and a responsibly managed corpus, we are poised to continue furthering its donors’ intent throughout the rest of this new millennium and beyond.

Looking forward to this future, as the Bradley brothers certainly would have done, we are mindful of the challenges and opportunities presented by our role among America’s philanthropies.  And we are humbled by them.

We are also prepared for them.  The Foundation is consciously seeking to lead by example – in our ongoing analyses of the general policy and cultural contexts within which we are operating, in our consideration of particular grantmaking options, and in our assessments of whether the options we pursue are actually attaining their goals and objectives.  As well, we are actively seeking to encourage and work with other funders that are pursuing many of the same aims to which Lynde and Harry Bradley philanthropically dedicated the wealth generated by their company.


The Bradley Legacy:
Lynde and Harry Bradley,
Their Company, and
Their Foundation

The Making of Milwaukee



 

Strategic Investment In Ideas:
How Two Foundations
Reshaped America