The Robert Bowne Foundation (RBF) was established in 1968 by Edmund A. Stanley, Jr. and named in honor of Robert Bowne (1744-1818), founder of Bowne & Company.
At a time when there was very little organized concern for the plight of the poor, the sick and the uneducated in New York, Robert Bowne was a pioneer in his efforts on behalf of the disadvantaged. He founded the Manumission Society, through which he sought to "exert all lawful means to ameliorate the sufferings" of the American slave and "ultimately to free him from bondage." He was a founder, as well, of the Society for Establishing a Free school in the City of New York, where scholars would be chosen on the basis of need, irrespective of "sect, creed, nationality, or name." He also played an active role in New York's first hospital, its first public health organization, and its first fire insurance company. When he died, one of his many good friends said of Robert Bowne, "His active mind, open purse, expanded heart, and willing feet knew no bounds." Through the Robert Bowne Foundation's legacy this tradition continues.