• MKE Federalists

Event Recap: Principled Philanthropy in Milwaukee and Beyond

Updated: Oct 23, 2020



Rick Graber, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Bradley Foundation, joined the Chapter on October 6, 2020 at its event Principled Philanthropy in Milwaukee and Beyond. The event was held as a Zoom webinar.


In 1903, Lynde Bradley founded what would become the Allen-Bradley Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Over the next 80 years, the Allen-Bradley Company became internationally recognized for its production of high-quality electronics, and in 1985 it was sold to Rockwell International for $1.65 billion. This success was not easy, but with grit, perseverance, and ingenuity Lynde, together with his brother Harry, achieved the American dream.


The Bradley Foundation was established in 1942, shortly after Lynde’s death, but grew substantially following the purchase of the Allen-Bradley Company by Rockwell. To date, it has awarded more than $1 billion to organizations that are committed to preserving and extending the values and institutions that were essential to the Bradley brothers’ success. Since 2016, Graber has served as the President and CEO of the foundation.


During his remarks, Graber described Lynde and Harry Bradley as believing in freedom, the importance of community, educational opportunities, capitalism, and representative government. These values are reflected in the foundation’s four principals:

  1. Fidelity to the Constitution, with its principles of limited government, federalism, separation of powers, and individual liberties.

  2. Commitment to free markets that allow for private enterprise, entrepreneurship, and voluntary exchange within the rule of law.

  3. Commitment to the fundamental institutions of civil society that cultivate individuals capable of self-governance.

  4. Dedication to the formation of informed and capable citizens.

Americans significantly outpace the rest of the world in terms of philanthropic giving. The intangible civil society created and maintained by this generosity is what binds us, not the system of government we live under, Graber said. He warned that as Americans look more to government to solve problems, they turn less to their families, churches, schools, and communities, jeopardizing free society as we know it and the institutions of American exceptionalism.


When asked what can be done on an individual level to address the liberal and progressive forces that work against conservative principals like the foundation’s, Graber encouraged members to work hard in their local communities to cultivate civic engagement and educate others about true American history and ideals.


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