Our Support for Education

Our organization is committed to backing not-for-profit initiatives that focus on hands-on, experiential education for young individuals. We give special consideration to endeavors that incorporate the arts and environmental settings to fulfill this mission. By engaging in artistic activities, youths can acquire essential abilities while also fostering analytical thinking and a capacity for empathy.


Equally, nature-oriented educational activities, which may include environmental preservation efforts, outdoor explorations, and sustainable or regenerative farming practices, often cultivate a strong sense of stewardship and profound respect for the Earth among participants.

The Waldorf Method

The Waldorf method approaches education holistically, teaching not just academics (the head), but also social/emotional skills (the heart), and physical, hands-on activities that stimulate curiosity, creativity, intuition, and imagination (the hands). It inspires students and teachers to be more engaged in the classroom. And it prepares students for life — to know how to be creative in solving problems when faced with them; how to deal with different types of people; and how to rise above when challenges come their way.


The Norton Family Foundation gave its first gift to support Waldorf education in Louisville in 1986 to create a Curriculum Resource Center in Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS). The center provided planning curricula and other resources for JCPS teachers. A goal of the foundation was to educate teachers about the existence of the Waldorf educational philosophy.


Soon after, the Foundation began providing funding to formally instruct public school teachers on Waldorf teaching methods.  In 1993 Janey and her brother Robin founded the Waldorf School of Louisville. The school began with grades K–5 and now goes through 8th grade. The Norton Family Foundation has provided operational support to the school for many years.


The Norton Family Foundation views much of what it seeks to fund through the lens of Waldorf education, always interested in holistic, hands-on programs that encourage creativity and an open mind.

Why We Believe in Waldorf Education

Jane Norton spent much of her life studying the philosophical works of Rudolf Steiner, a German-Austrian scholar who developed Waldorf education as well as the foundation of biodynamic agriculture.  She shared her enthusiasm for these subjects with her grandchildren, Janey, Robin, and Margaret.


Janey, who has served on the Norton Foundation Board of Directors for more than 30 years, knew from an early age that she wanted to be an educator and she knew from her studies of Steiner that Waldorf education was the best model for educating children.  Throughout her career as a teacher, Janey integrated Waldorf teaching methods in her classrooms and was thrilled to see the impact on her students.

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