Who we are

We are a UK-registered grant-making charity focusing on cultural heritage and digitisation, humanities education and research, and excellence and innovation in the arts

Who we are

The Polonsky Foundation was established in 1985 by Dr. Leonard S. Polonsky. In 2013 he was named a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for charitable services.

Dr. Polonsky grew up in New York City, attended Townsend Harris High School and received his BA degree from New York University. Following military service, he pursued graduate studies in literature in Oxford and Paris, receiving his doctorate from the Sorbonne in 1952. He taught in Heidelberg before starting a career in financial services in 1955. After working in Rome, Frankfurt, and Zurich, he established Liberty Life Assurance Company Limited in London in 1970. Hansard Global plc, its successor, of which he is President, has been listed on the London Stock Exchange since 2006.

Dr. Polonsky has been honoured by Cambridge University, Lincoln College (Oxford), the Royal College of Music (London), the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design (Jerusalem), and the Hebrew University (Jerusalem), the Theatre for a New Audience (New York) and the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding (New York).

“Our Foundation aims to democratize knowledge and to enrich lives through greater access to the treasures of our cultures and civilization,” Leonard Polonsky says. “My hope is that young people will be inspired to contribute to their communities and societies, and to pledge (in the words of the Ancient Greek Ephebic oath we took as schoolboys at Townsend Harris High School) ‘I shall not leave my city any less but rather greater than I found it’.”


Dr. Leonard S. Polonsky CBE
Dr. Georgette Bennett
Marc Polonsky
Hannah Polonsky Whitney
Joshua-Marc Tanenbaum

The Foundation generates its own projects and generally does not respond to unsolicited communications.

Subject areas

Cultural heritage and digitisation

We support major libraries and museums in digitising and displaying the riches of their collections, to make them available to researchers and the wider public in innovative and attractive ways.

Humanities education and research

We support research in the humanities at significant academic institutions, educational initiatives to inspire young people about the humanities, and the broadening of educational opportunity.

Excellence and innovation in the arts

We support artistic heritage, the development of new creative work and the nurturing of young performers.