In the early nineteenth century, Captain Nathaniel Stevens founded the Stevens Textile Mills, which became the largest producer of woolen fabric in the United States. His grandson Nathaniel formed The Nathaniel and Elizabeth P. Stevens Foundation in 1943. Ten years later, Nathaniel’s nephew, Abbot Stevens, formed The Abbot and Dorothy H. Stevens Foundation, funding mostly Boston area orgamizations.
The trustees' giving became more focused in the Merrimack Valley to improve the overall quality of life for the City’s largely immigrant population, with special attention to educational youth programming, after-school enrichment programming, health and wellness initiatives, and exposure to the arts.
The trustees initiated the Greater Lawrence Donors’ Collaborative to facilitate discussion around how best to collaboratively impact the community. This group of foundations, corporations, and philanthropic individuals still meets yearly and are in contact throughout the year.
The Stevens Foundations initiated the Greater Lawrence Summer Fund which pools contributions from local foundations and businesses to support summer enrichment, educational and recreational activities for greater Lawrence youth. They remain significant contributors to the Fund now managed by Essex County Community Foundation.
Funding is focused on the city of Lawrence and surrounding communities. In addition, the foundation facilitates conversation and collaboration among non-profit partners to share resources and support innovation.