Theodore Roosevelt Johnson began his employment with a fledgling parcel delivery business on the west coast in the early 1920s. The company became known as United Parcel Service and Mr. Johnson, after acquiring his MBA by going to college at night, became its Vice President in charge of Human Resources. As a senior employee Mr. Johnson was given the opportunity to buy stock in the company, which he did whenever he could. By the early 1950s Mr. Johnson and his wife, Vivian Macleod Johnson, were able to retire. They settled in Palm Beach County, Florida and kept their stock in UPS.
During retirement Mr. and Mrs. Johnson gave generously of their time and money to educational causes. By the late 1980s the value of their UPS stock had grown exponentially and the idea of the Johnson Scholarship Foundation began to germinate. Mr. Johnson often said that he and Mrs. Johnson had been “lucky” with money and he wanted to help those who had been less fortunate.
Education had played an important part in Mr. Johnson’s career advancement and it was natural for him to use education as a vehicle to help others. Just as education had helped him, it would empower other young people to get good jobs or start companies or to otherwise follow their dreams. Education would be the means for disadvantaged people to participate more fully in the benefits of a free and democratic society.
The Foundation was formally created by Mr. Johnson in 1991 and its assets were consolidated in 1993 with a trust established by Mrs. Johnson, who had predeceased her husband. The Foundation was to provide financial support to individuals who were qualified to attend college but lacked the financial means to do so. Within this broad context of scholarship support, the Johnsons also sought to benefit particular groups and institutions. Among the groups were economically disadvantaged, physically disabled, blind, deaf and hearing-impaired students, American Indians, and children of UPS employees in Florida.
The Foundation has made grants in support of its mission to assist disadvantaged people to obtain education and employment. The best of these grants have helped people and organizations to grow and reach new heights. Individuals have been empowered to obtain education and productive employment and organizations that serve these individuals have been strengthened and changed.