50 Years of Giving: Target's Legacy of Service

  • Jun 22, 2012
a group of people standing on a stage

As Target celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2012, we take a look back at its legacy of giving and service-a rich story with many chapters that extends far beyond the past five decades.

More than a century ago, George Draper Dayton and his close-knit family wanted to expand their growing business in the Midwest. The eager New York banker and real estate investor purchased land on Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis, and founded Dayton Dry Goods Company (now known as Target Corporation) on the principles of quality goods at low prices, fair business practices and a generous spirit of giving.

The Dayton family believed in investing in the community with their time, energy and passion. In 1946, George’s son, Nelson Dayton, formalized the company’s giving legacy by committing a full 5 percent of income-the maximum allowed by law-to the community each year.

The Dayton Brothers

The Dayton family’s spirit of service has endured through decades of leadership, and continues to inspire how Target does business today.

George Draper’s grandson, Bruce B. Dayton, and his four brothers passed the torch onto new leadership, including Laysha Ward, President of Community Relations and the Target Foundation. She has been a champion for public service since taking her role at Target, and looks to her friend and mentor Bruce—now 93—for inspiration and continued guidance.

Laysha Ward, Bruce Dayton, CEO Gregg Steinhafel and Doug Dayton

click through the slides below for an interview with Laysha Ward and Bruce Dayton


As Target has continued to thrive, so has its support of the community. In fact, education is at the heart of Target’s giving, and the company is on track to give $1 billion for education by the end of 2015. Would the Dayton family have ever imagined this? We think so.

Bruce said it best in a presentation to fellow team members in 1976: “To those who assert that business should operate only in its best interest… I contend that corporate responsibility is in our best interest.”

Today, like then, Target is committed to serve as a good corporate citizen in the sake of education, well-being, sustainability, safety and preparedness, and an inclusive work culture.

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