Our Story

The Durfee Foundation is named in honor of Dorothy Durfee Avery who, with her husband, R. Stanton (Stan) Avery, established it in 1960. Since that time, the foundation has awarded more than $35 million in grants, primarily in the Los Angeles region.

Stan And Dorothy’s Story

The Early Days (1960-1986)

The Durfee Foundation is animated by the can-do spirit of founders Stan and Dorothy Durfee Avery. They created the first commercially feasible self-adhesive label and founded the Fortune 500 Company known today as Avery Dennison.

Before Stan became a successful inventor and business leader, he was an adventurer whose travels to revolutionary China made a lasting impact, and a tinkerer whose youthful experience with a printing press led to his now-ubiquitous invention. Stan recognized the potential of his idea, but needed capital to start a business. Dorothy, his new bride, kickstarted the family business with a $50 bank loan, using as collateral the Model A Ford she paid for with her earnings as a school teacher.

Stan and Dorothy started the foundation in 1960. Sadly, Dorothy died prematurely in 1964. Stan and Dorothy’s three children, Judy, Dennis, and Russell, joined the board soon after. Robbie Macfarlane was hired in 1979 as the first executive director.

Focusing the Mission

Laying the Foundation for Giving (1987-1999)

The first wave of third generation family members joined the board. The foundation clarified its focus on funding extraordinary people, providing funding where it might not otherwise be available, and seeking high-leverage opportunities that may not be easy to measure in traditional ways. New programs were launched: Earthwatch (now Ignite LA) in 1989; Sabbatical in 1997; and Artists Resource for Completion (ARC) in 1999. Stan Avery died in 1997 at the age of 90.

Expanding Impact

Going Deep Across the Los Angeles Region (2000-Present)

The Durfee Foundation entered the new century with a commitment to supporting extraordinary people with a sharpened focus on Los Angeles County. The Stanton Fellowship (2005) launched to give exceptional leaders time to think deeply about big questions. Durfee’s Sabbatical program gained national attention and replication, and a joint report with four other foundations demonstrated the value of sabbaticals for nonprofit leaders. Durfee celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2010, and the board expanded to include trustees outside of the family.