Bainum Family Foundation Marks
50th Anniversary in 2018

Bethesda, Maryland (April 18, 2018) — The persistence that helped Stewart Bainum, Sr., overcome a childhood marked by poverty and struggle also propelled him to success in business, culminating in his role as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Choice Hotels International. But he never forgot his roots, and those early experiences also shaped a lifetime of philanthropy. This year, the charitable foundation he and his wife, Jane, established in 1968 marks its 50th anniversary.

Initially created to provide college scholarships to students from low-income families, the Bainum Family Foundation today works more broadly to improve the quality and availability of resources for children living in poverty, with a focus on early childhood and initiatives and programs in early learning, food security and school mental health. The Foundation’s work is concentrated in Wards 7 and 8 in the District of Columbia, but it maintains a commitment to several other communities both domestically and internationally. The Foundation also supports the ongoing philanthropic efforts of four generations of the Bainum Family and continues the founders’ commitment to faith-based education through its Seventh-day Adventist Initiative.

Family members and Foundation staff have planned a series of mission-focused activities throughout 2018 designed to:

  • Honor the legacy of founders Stewart and Jane Bainum
  • Honor the communities served by the Foundation and the partners who make its work possible
  • Share lessons learned from its 50-year history to strengthen partners and the philanthropic field

“A 50th anniversary is a natural time for reflection and celebration, but it’s important to all of us — family members and Foundation Board and staff — that we mark this milestone in a way that mirrors my parents’ approach to philanthropy,” says Barbara Bainum, Chair of the Board, CEO and President of the Foundation and daughter of the founders. “For them, it was always about the kids, so the best way we can honor their legacy is by advancing our mission in service of children and families living in poverty.”

The Foundation’s anniversary activities include:

  • A “strategy in action” open house at a partner site in D.C.’s Ward 8 to show the Foundation’s current work in early learning, school mental health, food security and other areas
  • A new thought leadership series to share the Foundation’s views, experiences and learnings with partners and others in philanthropy
  • Screening of a documentary film that captures the experience and impact of the Foundation’s “I Have a Dream” program, which ran from 1988 to 1994 and offered college scholarships to 67 students in southeast D.C. upon completion of high school
  • Using an online storytelling platform to curate and digitally capture the history of the Foundation and the Bainum family’s philanthropic work

“The focus of the Foundation has evolved over the years, but we like to think of it as channeling the same passion for children and education in a new direction,” says Rozita Green, Chief Strategy Officer for the Foundation. “That’s what makes us excited for the future. Our current strategy, launched in 2015, will help us make an even greater impact by giving children living in poverty what they need from the very beginning of their lives, helping them to thrive and to succeed in both school and life.”

The Bainum Family Foundation combines proven expertise with a passion for supporting the whole child by providing integrated services to help them thrive. Our circle of collaboration includes investments and support in early learning, wrap-around services and knowledge building. Founded in 1968 by Stewart and Jane Bainum, the Foundation was established to help underserved children exit poverty through high-quality educational programs and services. For more information, visit

History of the Foundation

In 1938, at the height of the Great Depression, 17-year-old Stewart Bainum could not afford to finish his education at a faith-based boarding school in Mount Vernon, Ohio. With $3 in his pocket and a cardboard suitcase in his hand, he hitchhiked 400 miles to Washington, D.C., where he found work as a plumber’s assistant and earned enough to complete high school back in Ohio.

After graduating, he returned to D.C., where the same persistence propelled him to success in business. He started a plumbing business, built a real estate development company and founded ManorCare, a universally acclaimed nursing home company. In 1957, he built his first hotel and later established Choice Hotels International, one of the world’s largest hotel franchising companies, where he served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

Mr. Bainum’s success in business was paralleled by a lifelong commitment to philanthropy. Based on his personal experience, he believed strongly in education as a pathway out of poverty. In 1968, he and his wife, Jane, founded what is now the Bainum Family Foundation. Originally known as The College Foundation and later as the Commonweal Foundation, the Foundation became one of the first local sponsors of the highly regarded “I Have A Dream” program in 1988, promising college scholarships upon completion of high school to nearly 70 rising seventh-grade students in an impoverished neighborhood in southeast D.C.

Over the years, the Foundation provided scholarships, tutoring programs, summer enrichment programs and other high-quality educational opportunities and supports to thousands of children and youth living in poverty. The Foundation shifted its strategy in 2015 to focus on early childhood (ages 0 to 8), making investments in three areas: Early Learning, Wrap-Around Support and Knowledge Building.

Although Mr. Bainum passed away in February 2014, his legacy lives on through his family, the Foundation and the many lives touched through the Foundation’s five decades of work.


Ann Egan
Senior Director of Communications