A fund for graduate nursing was originally established following the death of Isabel Hampton Robb, a visionary leader of modern American nursing.



A second educational loan fund was established through the estate of Isabel McIsaac, who was twice president of the American Journal of Nursing Company and who also served as president of the Society of Superintendents which was later to become the National League for Nursing.



The Robb and McIsaac Memorial Funds along with the Nurses' Scholarship and Fellowship Fund (est. 1952) were merged to form Nurses' Educational Funds, Inc. (NEF).



Over the years, these funds have gradually increased as a result of wise investment, contributions from nursing leaders, friends of nursing, schools of nursing and other organizations such as nursing alumni associations and nursing honor societies. Contributions have also been made by corporations including pharmaceutical companies, and publishers such as the former American Journal of Nursing Company.