The origins of the Van Leer activities lie with Bernard Van Leer, a Dutch industrialist and philanthropist. In 1919, Bernard Van Leer founded a small packaging company in The Netherlands that became a world leader in the industry and provided him with the resources to pursue his philanthropic activities. His objective, in essence, was to use the fruit of his labor to benefit others.
When he died in 1958, Bernard Van Leer had arranged his affairs to ensure his business interests would continue to fuel his philanthropic work. Having gained the agreement of his wife Polly and his two sons, Oscar and Wim, to relinquish their inheritance rights, he bequeathed his fortune to a trust set-up in 1949 in Lucerne, Switzerland - its mission: to guarantee, under Oscar Van Leer's leadership, the income flow for his philanthropic goals.
Oscar Van Leer worked on furthering his father's objectives until his death in 1996. To begin with, he created and formalized the legacy's organizational structure. The Van Leer Group Foundation, which is based in The Netherlands and run by a seven-member Governing Council, took over the tasks of the original Swiss trust. Oscar Van Leer also gave the philanthropic work clear and focused targets. The Van Leer Group Foundation is today the custodian of Bernard Van Leer's legacy.
The Van Leer Group Foundation is a charitable foundation and performs a holding function in relation to all the charitable activities of the so-called Van Leer Entity. The Van Leer Entity embodies the main goal of the Van Leer family, namely a recognizable relation between earning money and spending money for charitable purposes. This is presently embodied in the Van Leer Group Foundation, Bernard Van Leer Foundation, Van Leer Jerusalem Instite and Jerusalem Film Center as regards the charities and the general investment portfolio and Crecor B.V., regarding the sources of income.
The Van Leer Group Foundation has three objectives:
- To promote the optimum development of socially and economically disadvantaged children up to the age of 8, with the objective of developing their innate potential to the greatest extent possible.
- To contribute to the development and strengthening of a Jewish, democratic national home in Israel committed to a free, equitable and just society for all its citizens; and to contribute to the pursuit of regional peace, for the benefit and betterment of social cultural and individual lives in Israel.
- To promote and to further the continuity and the preservation of the identity of the Van Leer Entity.
For more information, see the The Van Leer Group Foundation Website