The Miller Foundation was founded by Mr. Robert B. Miller, Sr. in 1963. The Foundation was originally named the Albert L. and Louise B. Miller Foundation to honor Mr. Robert Miller's parents.
Albert Miller moved his family from Ottawa, Kansas, to Michigan in 1910. He came to Battle Creek to become editor of the Battle Creek Enquirer morning newspaper, then owned by cereal giant C. W. Post. Albert Miller eventually purchased the paper and also acquired the city's other two daily newspapers and consolidated them into a single daily newspaper.
Robert (Bob) Miller grew up in the newspaper business, from the time he was old enough to carry buckets of lead type slugs from the linotype machines to the remolding machines. He said, "My father believed in learning by doing. He once told me if I ever wanted to run a newspaper, I'd darned well better know how the ink was put on the paper." Years later Bob worked his way up to editor and publisher in 1953 when his father retired.
After Albert Miller died in 1958, Bob's mother Louise wanted to propose a memorial to him. After much research and discussion, it was decided that a foundation would be established to provide the start of an ongoing programmatic use of funds instead of a single one-time gift.
His philosophy – some call it a mission and purpose – was carried into the foundation. Bob insisted the Foundation be a catalyst, not a cure-all, for means and methods that had, as their outcome, an improved Battle Creek and surrounding region.
At the most fundamental level, Miller was convinced that his Foundation should not single-handedly support a major community initiative. He believed that if the proposed project was quite large, a small private foundation could seldom afford to devote the majority of its funds to a single cause. The consequence would be to leave other worthy proposals untouched.
His expectation for his Foundation's governing board was that it would always take a broad view of what was appropriate to the needs of the greater Battle Creek area. He cherished the notion of flexibility when considering grant requests, saying that an open door to ideas always lets in more sunshine.
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