The Carter Foundation is an American charity organization based in Chicago, Illinois. It is ran by the wealthy Carter family and, until 2004, focused on arts and culture. After 2004, its focus has shifted to health care and medicine. As of 2009, its resources have been all but depleted.
It is unknown when the Foundation was started. The Carter family's wealth extends to at least the 1930s, as per John Carter's cynical remark that they lived in prosperity while the rest of Chicago starved during the Great Depression. The suggestion by Peter Benton's mother that "his people used to own our people", if not brought on by her dementia, could indicate that the family's wealth extends to slavery times, e.g. mid 19th century, although this does not say much about the creation of the Foundation.
The Foundation's exact financial reserves were unknown, but they were vast. John Carter, Jr.'s personal wealth was estimated at USD 178 million in 1995, and this may have just been the tip of the iceberg. Its fundraisers were high profile enough to attract the attention of Illinois Senators and their families.
Until 2002, the Foundation was chaired by John Carter, Jr. (presumeablt having succeeded John Carter, Sr. at some point in history), with his mother Millicent Carter acting as treasurer. After stepping down as treasurer, she asked her son to replace her, with her grandson John Carter replacing his father as president. Carter, often distancing himself from his family's endeavors, reluctantly agreed to do so.
In 2004, John Carter changed the Foundation's course by turning its focus on health care and medicine. This dismayed the rest of the board, but Millicent Carter's will gave him the authority to do so. After 2005, Carter began directing the Foundation's funds to the Joshua Carter Center, an HIV/AIDS treatment center he was constructing in Chicago. The center officially opened in 2009, having drained most of the Foundation's funds. Most likely, the Foundation was declared bankrupt in the following years.