The John F. Slater Fund for the Education of Freedmen was created in the United States in 1882 with $1 million for "Uplifting the legally emancipated population of the Southern states and their posterity."  The majority of blacks still lived in rural areas and had to attend segregated public schools, which were typically underfunded by the white Democrat-dominated state legislatures. With an economy chiefly based on agriculture, the South was struggling to recover from losses during the American Civil War, and funds for public services were limited. 
In May 1882 Mr. Slater transferred $1,000,000 to a board of trustees incorporated by the State of New York. Bishop Haygood, Dr. J. L. M. Curry, Dr. Wallace Buttrick, and Dr. James H. Dillard were general agents of the fund. The contemporary Peabody Education Fund had been restricted to support existing schools in the South (by definition for whites only, as no public schools for freedmen existed before the Civil War and public schools were limited after Reconstruction.) Instead, the Slater Fund contributed to schools which provided the education of colored students.
(See also Rosenwald Fund)
- Negro Year Book: An Annual Encyclopedia of the Negro .... 1913. p. 181.
- Proceedings of the Trustees of the John F. Slater Fund for the Education of Freedmen (Baltimore: John Murphy and Co., 1883).
- John E. Fisher, The John F. Slater Fund: A Nineteenth Century Affirmative Action for Negro Education, New York: University Press of America, 1986
- Titus Brown, Faithful, firm, and true: African American education in the South, Macon, Georgia: Mercer Univ. Press, 2002
- L. P. Ayres, Seven Great Foundations (New York, 1911)
- Reports of the United States Commissioner of Education, published annually (Washington, D. C.)