Tracy and Katherine McGregor and the McGregor Fund
Tracy McGregor and Katherine Whitney grew up in different states but with a similar interest - helping others. It was this commitment to helping the underprivileged that would cause the two to meet, to marry in 1901, and to work together throughout their lives to make a difference in their community.
Tracy was born in an Ohio town called Berlin Heights. It wasn't until Tracy was 22 that he moved to Detroit, after withdrawing from college. His father's death left a need for a director of the mission for homeless men he had started in Detroit. Tracy assumed his father's responsibilities. Throughout the years, the mission, later called the McGregor Institute, provided housing and food for approximately 700,000 men. After the Great Depression, the U.S. government began programs for poor, so the Institute closed its doors.
Four years younger than Tracy, Katherine was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1873. It was in Detroit that Katherine, the daughter of a wealthy lumber baron and real estate businessman, David Whitney, would become known for working to better the lives of the poor and needy. She began a home for homeless children when she inherited a large house. Later, the home became a library for Highland Park. Today, a newer version bearing the McGregor name stands on the original location. It was her interest in children that caused Katherine to meet Tracy when she volunteered at the Infant's Ward Association for the Children's Free Hospital.
Tracy McGregor was also a well-known Detroit philanthropist. Tracy and his business friends began the Provident Loan Society which provided loans at lower interest rates. He also helped to start the Thursday Group, which met to discuss important community issues like justice in the courts and prisons. Tracy became a trustee and financial supporter of the Merrill Palmer Institute and several universities.
It was in 1925 that the couple established the McGregor Fund, making an initial $5,000 gift. Katherine gave other substantial financial gifts throughout the years. In 1931, the Fund awarded its first grants by sponsoring care for the sick and the poor, and by supporting higher education. Today, the Fund has total assets of more than $200 million and has granted over $120 million throughout its history.