Our History

The AAFP Foundation, by the Decade

Established in 1958, the AAFP Foundation was created to support research on the medical and economic aspects of general practice. Learn how the Foundation has grown through each decade. This has seen a tremendous amount of change and growth that will only continue for years to come.


The AAFP Foundation has created new programs in Family Medicine Cares USA, Family Medicine Cares International, Family Medicine Leads Scholarships, and Family Medicine Leads Emerging Leader Institute. Continue to stay in touch with your AAFP Foundation as we create new programs and continue our involvement with the family of Family Medicine.


In the new millennium, an emphasis on enhancing long-term results through enrichment of the Foundation’s endowment created fun fundraising events, such as golf tournaments and a special Foundation auction, which is now held annually during Family Medicine Experience (FMX and formerly Scientific Assembly).

As the Foundation enters its next half-century of operation, we celebrate our distinguished past and look forward to our promising future. In 2008 the Foundation announced the establishment of the AAFP Foundation Annual Fund to help support our next half-century of commitment to Family Medicine and to all those the specialty serves.


The decade of the 1990s saw the Foundation expanding its development efforts in new ways, through major planned gifts, estate planning, financial planning and endowment building. The Foundation currently holds over $10 million in a variety of endowment funds and works closely with chapters and their foundations to provide gift and estate planning services to their members.


During the 1980s the Foundation further broadened its reach and established a Corporate Supporter Program to solicit contributions from major corporations for project-specific grants. By 1985 a real network of supporting chapter foundations was also established. By the end of the decade, the business of institutionalizing programs to support the specialty was well underway. In 1989, reflecting a renewed commitment to the Academy and its vision, the Foundation changed its corporate name from FHFA to the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation.


The 1970s brought the beginning of individual development. The HELP fundraising campaign was launched in the fall of 1972 and would be the first of many such fundraising campaigns directed toward individuals. In 1979 the FHFA also took the lead in helping to better coordinate activities within the family of Family Medicine itself by hosting the first inter-organizational meeting of groups within the specialty, which came to be known as the Family Practice Working Party.


During the 1960s, the Foundation helped to support efforts to establish Family Medicine training programs by providing grants and sponsoring a series of national conferences dedicated to exploring the issue of how to provide comprehensive care to all American families. In 1966 the Foundation’s corporate name was changed to the Family Health Foundation of America (FHFA) to reflect its broadening reach and influence within both general practice and American health care.

The Beginning

The groundwork for the establishment of the AAFP Foundation came in March 1958, when the Congress of Delegates of the American Academy of General Practice (now the AAFP) considered a resolution to establish “an educational and research foundation for the support of research on medical and economic aspects of general practice.” The resolution passed, and the AAGP Foundation was subsequently incorporated as a non-profit corporation in the State of Missouri on November 18, 1958.
The first staff of the Foundation consisted of AAGP Executive Director Mac Cahal and Helen Cobb, his executive assistant. Two donations helped to establish a corpus of funds for the fledgling foundation: a $1,000 donation from Marion Laboratories (now Sanofi) of Kansas City, Missouri, and another donation from A.W. Breckenkamp, administrator of the AAGP Group Disability Insurance Plans (now AAFP Insurance Services, Inc.).

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