Andrus History & Philanthropies

//Andrus History & Philanthropies
Andrus History & Philanthropies2018-11-14T23:35:12+00:00

The History of John E. Andrus and Andrus on Hudson

John E. Andrus began his life under modest conditions on February 16, 1841 as the son of an impoverished Methodist minister. However, by the time of his death at the age of 93 in 1934, he held office as both Mayor of Yonkers and U.S. Congressman, and gained a reputation as an industrialist and as one of New York’s most caring philanthropists.

Mr. Andrus dedicated his life to the following mission: “To give opportunity to youth and rest to the aged.” That mission was realized in 1917 with the founding of the Surdna Foundation (Andrus spelled backwards), a charitable organization, and the opening of the Julia Dyckman Andrus Memorial Home for Children in 1928, an orphanage in honor of his late wife.

After his death, much of Mr. Andrus’ fortune went to the preservation of the Surdna Foundation. In 1953, his youngest daughter, Helen Andrus Benedict, continued his legacy establishing the John E. Andrus Memorial, Inc., just north of the Children’s Home in Hastings-on-Hudson. Now, an exciting new renovation of Andrus will continue the legacy set by John E. Andrus.

Andrus on Hudson is nestled within 26 wooded acres, located high on a hill overlooking the scenic Hudson River in Hastings-on-Hudson. It will continue to be a community founded upon friendship and principles set by John E. Andrus himself.

The Andrus family is dedicated to improving the lives of others through its many philanthropies. Click on the toggles below to learn more about each of the Andrus Philanthropies.

The Surdna Foundation seeks to foster just and sustainable communities in the United States—communities guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy environments, strong local economies, and thriving cultures. For five generations, since 1917, the Foundation has been governed largely by descendants of John Andrus and has developed a tradition of innovative service for those in need of help or opportunity.
For five generations, since 1917, the Foundation has been governed largely by descendants of John Andrus and has developed a tradition of innovative service for those in need of help or opportunity.

The Surdna Foundation fosters just and sustainable communities by making grants in the United States in the areas of:

  • Sustainable Environments
  • Strong Local Economies
  • Thriving Cultures
  • Foundation Initiatives

SURDNA partners with local and national organizations to ensure they have the staff, know-how and leadership capabilities to succeed in creating meaningful change against some of our nation’s most pressing issues.

A just and sustainable community is a place with a high quality of life that makes it a desirable place to live, work, and play. It’s a place that offers a balance of productive activity and leisure, consumption and conservation, individualism and community. Sustaining that quality of life demands a healthy environment, strong local economies, and a vibrant cultural life, all enriching and reinforcing one another.

At the Surdna Foundation, we actively find ways to enhance our work by forging cohesion across the Foundation’s grantmaking efforts. We seek emerging opportunities, reserving some resources in order to make an immediate impact with our giving when warranted.

The foundation emphasizes social justice in our work, recognizing the structural and systemic barriers experienced within our communities and are devoted to finding solutions that dismantle them. The importance of young people, organizing, and leadership development in addressing these barriers are lessons we carry forward from previous work at the Foundation.

Visit SURDNA

The Helen Andrus Benedict Foundation was created in 1997 in memory of John E. Andrus and enhances the Andrus family’s longstanding commitment to Westchester County, New York. The Benedict Foundation is committed to creating good places for people to grow older while maintaining the maximum possible levels of independence. The Benedict Foundation is focused on creating aging-friendly neighborhoods and actively engaging older people in their communities.

The HELEN ANDRUS BENEDICT FOUNDATION was created in 1997 in memory of John E. Andrus and enhances the Andrus family’s longstanding commitment to Westchester County, New York. The Benedict Foundation is committed to creating good places for people to grow older while maintaining the maximum possible levels of independence.

The Benedict Foundation is focused on creating aging-friendly neighborhoods and actively engaging older people in their communities. Grant making is targeted primarily to non profits in Westchester County, New York, with special attention to the City of Yonkers.

The Helen Andrus Benedict Foundation views older people as assets to their communities, an essentially untapped resource of time, talent, and experience with potential to benefit neighbors and neighborhoods. To strengthen Westchester neighborhoods and communities, the Benedict Foundation supports programs and strategies that foster across-the-generations cooperation.

To help build a sense of community among its grantees and to encourage collaboration, several times a year the Foundation gathers grantees for educational seminars highlighting nationally recognized cutting edge programs and emerging issues.

Visit the Helen Andrus Benedict Foundation

The Julia Dyckman Andrus Memorial – also known as the Andrus Children’s Center – is a private non-profit community agency offering prevention, assessment, educational, treatment and research programs that help children and families achieve healthy, stable lives.

The Julia Dyckman Andrus Memorial – also known as the Andrus Children’s Center – is a private non-profit community agency offering prevention, assessment, educational, treatment and research programs that help children and families achieve healthy, stable lives.

Originally founded in 1928 by John E. Andrus in memory of his wife, Julia, as an orphanage for needy youngsters, Andrus now provides a broad network of supports to vulnerable children and families of all backgrounds and means. Andrus serves more than 140 seriously emotionally disturbed children, grades K-9, in three treatment programs and a Blue Ribbon school on its lovely, 110-acre campus overlooking the Hudson River. In community-based initiatives across Yonkers and Mt. Vernon, we partner with local agencies, government organizations and families to address the needs of hundreds of children, from birth through grade school. Our mental health programs help to provide counseling to young children with mental health needs in three locations throughout Westchester County.

The Julia Dyckman Andrus Memorial has evolved into a premiere, nationally recognized treatment, education and research facility – but it remains, at heart, a family-centered organization. For more information, please visit us at: http://www.andruschildren.org

The Andrus Family Fund, a sub-fund of the Surdna Foundation, was established in 2000 to give fifth generation family members between the ages of twenty-five and forty-five an opportunity to learn about and participate in organized philanthropy. While AFF operates under the 501(c)(3) status of the Surdna Foundation, AFF defines and manages its own grantmaking program and process.

The Andrus Family Fund, a sub-fund of the Surdna Foundation, was established in 2000 to give fifth generation family members between the ages of twenty-five and forty-five an opportunity to learn about and participate in organized philanthropy. While AFF operates under the 501(c)(3) status of the Surdna Foundation, AFF defines and manages its own grantmaking program and process.

AFF’s grantmaking is guided by the belief that social change efforts will have a better chance for success when the emotional and psychological effects of the change process are recognized and addressed. William Bridges, a noted author and organizational consultant, calls this psychological process that a person experiences when he or she comes to terms with a new situation Transition. AFF’s Board and staff have adopted Bridges’ framework which states that transition is fundamentally different from change. Where change is external and situational (e.g., marriage, a new job), transition is the internal process of how one responds to the change.

AFF examines the power of the transition model as it applies broadly to the area of social change and as it applies specifically to its two program areas: (1) youth’s passage from foster care to independence; and (2) community reconciliation, which supports programs that promote healing, and construct a shared vision of community that is founded on justice and that respects difference. AFF focuses its grantmaking around these program areas while also seeking to learn about the relationship between external change and internal transition.

In the area of youth’s passage from foster care to independence, AFF supports programs that contribute to the body of knowledge and experience about what youth need to sustain an independent life after foster care by paying attention to transition. In particular, towards the end of foster care, AFF will explore whether attending to transition more purposefully increases the chances that youth can successfully move out of state care into independent living. AFF’s goal is to partner with organizations that are willing to intentionally and consistently attend to the transitions at work in the lives of youth leaving the foster care system. Within this framework, AFF includes, but does not limit itself to, considering programs that support gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgendered, intersex, and questioning youth, for whom leaving the foster care system may be particularly difficult due to a sense of isolation because of their sexual identity.

In the community reconciliation area, AFF is interested in exploring the connection between the transition model and community reconciliation in the context of:
1) identity-based conflict;
2) police-community conflict; and
3) conservation conflict.

AFF will fund community reconciliation projects within the United States that put William Bridges’ transition framework to the test in addressing these three priority areas. AFF’s grantees incorporate Bridges’ transition process into their projects to help communities successfully navigate through the three phases of transition and support the necessary healing and reconciliation process.

AFF only funds domestic programs; however the fund will consider support for international organizations conducting inquiry that contributes to the body of knowledge and experience about what is necessary to create and sustain successful community reconciliation efforts in the U.S.

For more information on William Bridges’ Transition Framework, applying for funding, and descriptions of AFF grants made during the 2005-2006 fiscal year, please visit the AFF Website at www.affund.org. Applications for AFF funding should not be sent to the Surdna Foundation.

The Board of Directors of the Surdna Foundation launched the Andrus Family Philanthropy Program (AFPP) in January, 2000 to engage and involve its larger family, in particular its younger generations, in philanthropy and public service. The program includes the Andrus Family Fund which was established to provide opportunities for younger family members to learn about and participate in organized philanthropy.

The Board of Directors of the Surdna Foundation launched the Andrus Family Philanthropy Program (AFPP) in January, 2000 to engage and involve its larger family, in particular its younger generations, in philanthropy and public service . Led by executive director, Steven Kelban, the program includes the Andrus Family Fund which was established to provide opportunities for younger family members to learn about and participate in organized philanthropy.

The Surdna Board developed this approach recognizing that the field and practice of family philanthropy, while poised to achieve unprecedented impact and scale, is undergoing tremendous change. The AFPP is an emerging alliance of programs within the Andrus family, designed to become the center of efforts to further inform, encourage and coordinate the family’s philanthropic work. This will be accomplished by:

  • strengthening the existing family philanthropies (Surdna Foundation, Julia Dyckman Andrus Memorial, Andrus on Hudson and Helen Benedict Foundation);
  • creating new vehicles for the family’s philanthropy, including the Andrus Family Fund;
  • linking existing and emerging philanthropic entities to make use of joint learning opportunities;
  • establishing opportunities for education, service and communication around philanthropy for the larger family;
  • and being receptive to new, creative ways to encourage and develop family philanthropy.


John Emory Andrus

John Andrus was born in 1841 in Pleasantville, New York, graduated from Wesleyan University and soon moved from teaching school to pursuing his talents as a an investor and a businessman. His primary business, the Arlington Chemical Company, manufactured and distributed typical medicines of the day, and his business interests included large land holdings as far away as Alaska.

The son of a Methodist minister, Mr. Andrus was a lay leader of the Methodist Church. In his 60s, he was elected mayor of Yonkers, New York, and then served four terms in the U.S. Congress. A devoted family man, he founded the Julia Dyckman Andrus Memorial in 1923, an orphanage that was a tribute to his beloved wife, an orphan herself, at the site of her adoptive family’s farm in Westchester County New York. The orphanage was later joined in 1953 by an adjacent retirement home, the John E. Andrus Memorial. This completed Andrus’ expressed wish that his legacy provide communities with “opportunity for youth and rest for old age.”