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The history of FWE begins in the early 1950s when its founder, Mrs. Eleanor Montgomery, was inspired by the work of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother – pioneers in the field of spiritual evolution, transformation of consciousness, human unity, and a divine life upon earth. Being particularly moved by the work being done at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education she asked the Mother, “How can I help?”

The Mother replied, “Return to America and raise funds for the school.”

Eleanor Montgomery seated between André Morisset and The Mother

In the beginning, Mrs. Montgomery raised funds for the Ashram school through friends and a yearly monetary gift from her financier husband, A. Moore Montgomery. Eventually in 1955, at the Mother’s behest, a foundation was incorporated in New York City under the name “Sri Aurobindo International Center Foundation, Inc” (see the founding letter with the Mother’s Blessings).

With the Mother herself as president, the original board consisted of a group of disciples. The Foundation provided supplies for the Ashram school as well as other donations, such as the electronic organ Mother played.

Mrs. Montgomery also formed a study group in New York City that met on a regular basis from 1955 to 1963. She brought noted personalities such as French Jesuit author Teilhard de Chardin and scholars from the Ashram and around the world to the meetings.

By 1974, Mrs. Montgomery had changed the name of the foundation to the Foundation for World Education (FWE), so that its work could embrace related activities and be more widely accessible. When Mrs. Montgomery passed away at the age of 74 in 1983 (coincidentally on the Mother’s birthday, February 21), she left her entire estate, valued at about $1.3 million, to FWE. In 1985, a Board of Directors was formed to carry on the work of the Foundation, providing seed funding for projects around the world that are in alignment with the vision of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother in various fields of its manifestation.

Over the course of the decades since its inception, this “evergreen” fund that continues to support the evolution of the earth’s consciousness has granted over $3 million, well over double the amount of the original endowment.  In the grant allocation process, the Board continues a tradition of responsible stewardship, deep consideration, and integrity. 

For additional information, see the detailed history written by Anie Nunnally and Jeanne Korstange.

Past Board Members

The Mother, Mirra Alfassa, Honorary President 1955-1973
Eleanor Montgomery, Founder
Early Board Members & Associates, September 1962: Chandu Patel, Eric Hughes, Anie Nunnally, Narad, A.B. Purani, Marie Karelitz-Karry (Masha), Polly Holmes, Kailas Jhaveri, (?), Eleanor Montgomery
Early Board Members & Associates: Sam Spanier, Sri Chinmoy, Eric Hughes, Narad, Marie Karelitz-Karry (Masha), Anie Nunnally, Kailas Jhaveri, (?), John Kelly
John Kelly

Originally incorporated in 1955 as Sri Aurobindo International Center Foundation, Inc.

Eleanor Montgomery

Honorary President of original board:
​The Mother, Mirra Alfassa

Founding Board Members:
Lee Russell
Eric Lawyer
Elsie Calvert
Marie Karelitz-Karry
Jesse Cohen (served as Secretary)

Other Board Members:
Joseph Heil
Polly Holmes
John Kelly

Name changed in 1974 to the Foundation for World Education

Past Board Members from 1985 onwards:
Jesse Cohen (served as President)
Anie Nunnally (served as Secretary) – Tribute
John Kelly
Sam Spanier
Sudha Hunziker
Connie Buckley (served as Treasurer)
George Nakashima
Rudy Phillips (served as President)
Robert McDermott
Julian Lines
Stephen Bauman
June Maher – Tribute
Margo MacLeod (served as President) – Tribute
Gordon Korstange
Jeanne Korstange (served as Secretary)
Paula Murphy (served as Secretary)
David Lauerman
Bhuvana Nandakumar (served as President)
Jerry Schwartz (served as Treasurer)
Jean Eisele (served as Secretary)
Dakshina Vanzetti
Heidi Watts
Aviram Rozin
John Schlorholtz

Board Members, circa 1996: John Schlorholtz, Sudha Hunziker, Margo MacLeod, June Maher, Jerry Schwartz, Rudy Phillips, Anie Nunnally, Sam Spanier, Gordon Korstange
Board Members 2017: Dakshina Vanzetti, Heidi Watts, Bhuvana Nandakumar, Aviram Rozin, Mateo Needham, Jean Eisele, Margo MacLeod, Jerry Schwartz & John Schlorholtz

Rudy Phillips
George Nakashima
Robert McDermott
June Maher
Margo MacLeod
Jerry Schwartz & Sam Spanier
Julian Lines
Anie Nunnally
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