In 1926, Albert Ordean drafted a will calling for “A corporation for the purpose of furnishing relief and charity…without discrimination as to age, sex, color, or religion.” Mr. Ordean died in 1928 at the age of 72 and after the death of his wife Louise, The Ordean Foundation was created on December 19,1933.
As a leader in commerce and trade, and as a friend of President William McKinley and railroad magnate James A. Hill, Mr. Ordean was offered positions of national prestige in commerce and government. He chose to stay in Duluth where he founded Merchants National Bank and had a considerable impact on the Duluth community where he will always be remembered for his generosity.
The Ordean estate, which was valued at over $2 million at the time of his death, has enabled the Ordean Foundation to award over $75 million, including $55 million since 1973. The Ordean Foundation annually awards around $1.4 to nonprofit agencies that serve low-income residents and families in Duluth and adjacent communities.
Albert L. Ordean
Photograph Taken 1925
Ordean Foundation History
Albert Ordean’s will was written in 1926. At the time of probate, his estate was valued at $2.1 million---the second largest estate filed in St. Louis County and exceeded only by the Congdon estate. He left stocks, bonds, property, and mineral interests for the establishment of the "Albert and Louise Ordean Charity" for the purpose of "administering and furnishing relief and charity for the worthy poor...within...Duluth...and without discrimination as to age, sex, color or religious inclination of the beneficiary."
Until the early 1960s, the Ordean Foundation functioned as a charity, distributing grants to individuals for medical, dental, coal, clothes, food, etc. With the passage of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty programs, which provided unemployment compensation, medical assistance, welfare, social security, and veteran benefits, the direct services once provided by the Ordean Foundation, were now provided by a public safety net.
Instead of remaining a direct service charity, the Ordean Foundation broadened the grant-making mission to include grants to organizations focused on youth, people with disabilities, and people with mental illness and began working with local nonprofits that provide services rather than making grants to individuals.
Ordean Foundation Leadership Team
Ordean Foundation's Board of Directors provide strategic direction, stewardship, and governance for the Foundation. We are extremely grateful for the compassionate leaders who sit on our Board of Directors who are committed to meet the challenges that confront our community.
Board Vice President