Cordelia Scaife May: Building a Legacy of Generosity

In the annals of American philanthropy, Cordelia Scaife May stands out as an influential figure. Born into the
wealthy Mellon family in Pittsburgh, Cordelia Scaife May embarked on a
philanthropic journey that would span decades and transform numerous lives and institutions. 

Cordelia Scaife May’s philanthropic endeavors began with the establishment of the Laurel Foundation
in 1951. Initially, the foundation was primed to champion the arts, education,
and women’s empowerment. Renowned institutions such as the National Aviary and
the Allegheny Land Trust were beneficiaries of her support. 

Her philanthropy wasn’t restricted to these fields. Cordelia Scaife May was deeply concerned about the environment and the
impact of human activities on it. She believed in the interplay between
population dynamics and environmental sustainability. Through her funding, she
encouraged research and initiatives that sought to strike a balance between
human needs and ecological preservation. 

In 1996, she established the Colcom Foundation. The foundation was a testament to her
commitment to environmental conservation and sustainable development. It became
a force for supporting initiatives aligned with her belief in responsible
stewardship of resources for the benefit of future generations. 

Much of the work of Cordelia Scaife May was done away from the public eye. Indeed, she preferred to
remain anonymous in her giving, allowing the focus to remain on the causes she
funded rather than her personal role in their support. Yet her impact was undeniable,
with her substantial contributions influencing policy and shaping discourse on key issues. 

The legacy of Cordelia Scaife May is enduring. Her philanthropic contributions continue to
fund programs and initiatives that she was passionate about. As one reflects on
the life and work of Cordelia Scaife May, it is evident that her altruistic
spirit and dedication to making a difference have left an indelible mark on the
world of philanthropy. 

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