Foundation History
The Laura J. Niles Foundation was founded in 1997. Although created during her lifetime, the Foundation crystallized its mission and became fully funded following Ms. Niles’s death in February 2000. During her lifetime, Laura Niles possessed a great appreciation for the gift of companionship. Whether it was through the ever-present company of her French poodles or by a visit from an old friend, Ms. Niles always relished the time she spent with others. It was through this appreciation that Ms. Niles developed a special concern for those afflicted with isolation.

Laura Niles’ wealth allowed her to pursue and enjoy the vocation she most cherished and to achieve success in the breeding of miniature poodles. However, she never lost sight of the realization that there were many people who had no such platform for achievement. For this reason, she admired greatly those who worked diligently to create opportunity for themselves and their families. Ms. Niles was especially sympathetic to the needs of those who were struggling to break free from poverty.

Ms. Niles’ personal traits and humanitarian interests are what influence both the form and substance of her giving legacy.

The Foundation’s aim is to preserve the Laura Niles legacy of joy through companionship and self initiative. Consequently, the Foundation concentrates its primary giving activities in the areas of education, economic self-sufficiency and animals.

The Foundation supports the notion that grants should favor program innovation and tangible outcomes, with an emphasis on opportunities for significant and lasting social improvement.

Please visit the Past Initiatives section of this web site for detailed descriptions of some examples of the Foundation’s grantmaking activities and focus.

Founder Biography
Laura Janet Niles was born on July 1, 1909. She was the first child of Alice and Henry A. Niles and grew up in New York City and Brightwaters, Long Island. Her younger brother, Henry E., was born on July 6, 1911. Laura maintained an active social life in New York City. After the death of her parents, Laura also oversaw the running of the family home in Brightwaters.

In her youth, Laura was an equestrian and maintained an interest in horses throughout her life. However, she did not own her own horses until she moved to her Blairstown, New Jersey, farm in the 1980s. Tennis was another sport she enjoyed, and she continued playing the game well into her seventies. Her main interest, which became a vocation as well as an avocation, was raising show dogs, primarily miniature poodles. Those who knew her well said her love for dogs was like no other. She and her puppies became well known in the dog world.

She was a loquacious woman and enjoyed verbally jousting with people. She was known to be both amusing and entertaining. Although she was a woman of means, she chose to live modestly.