In 1963, David Ben-Gurion retired from his role as Israel's first Prime-Minister, in order to live as an ordinary member of Kibbutz Sde-Boker in the heart of the Negev.
His intention was to attract Israeli youth to follow him and settle in the Negev. Ben-Gurion's aspiration was to establish an internationally accredited educational center in the Negev, not far from the Kibbutz. He said: "we have to establish our own Oxford University here in the desert".
Ben-Gurion energized his relations and friends, and they joined him to help accomplish his dream. In 1963 the 'Negev fund' was established. The declared goals of the Negev Fund were to promote scientific and community projects, education, and agricultural development in the area. In 1973, after Ben-Gurion passed away, the name 'Negev Fund' was changed to 'Yad Ben-Gurion'. This was done to honor and perpetuate his memory as the architect of the new State of Israel. In 1976, the Israeli Knesset adopted the 'David Ben-Gurion Law' determining the institutes perpetuating his memory. An amendment to the law from 2010 defines the role of 'Yad David Ben-Gurion' charity.