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In construction [change]
To make a foundation, we normally dig a trench in the ground, digging deeper and deeper until we come to subsoil, which is more solid than the topsoil that we use to grow plants and crops. When the trench is deep enough, we fill it with any strong, hard material we can find. Sometimes we pour in concrete into the trench, which we strengthen even more by first putting long thin round pieces of steel into the trench. When the concrete dries, the steel acts like the bones in our bodies to tie the foundation together. We call this reinforced concrete.
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Once the foundation has been packed down tightly, or dried hard, we can begin to build.
A type of organization [change]
A foundation can also be a kind of company set up to carry out charity or research work. A foundation is usually endowed which means it is given a large sum of money to do its work. An example is the Rockefeller Foundation. The Rockefeller family made their money from banking and oil and their family foundation is endowed with a very great sum of money. The people running the foundation think of ways to use the money to help charities, the arts, or whatever they like.
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Another example is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Bill Gates made a fortune from Microsoft the computer company. He and his wife now spend nearly all their time giving away the money he has made, to projects like education in the United States and treating AIDS in Third World countries.