The MOU on the establishment of the ASEAN Foundation will be signed by the ASEAN Foreign Ministers, and witnessed by the ASEAN Heads of Government, during the ASEAN Commemorative Summit in Kuala Lumpur on 15 December 1997.

The ASEAN Foundation will organise and support activities to promote among others, education, training, health and culture. The Foundation will also provide fellowships and support exchanges of ASEAN youth and students, and promote collaborative work among academics, professionals and scientists. The Foundation will also implement projects assigned by ASEAN Leaders of Ministers, collaborate with the relevant ASEAN bodies, initiate its own flagship projects as well as organise projects in partnership with ASEAN governments and the private sector.

All ASEAN Member Countries will be eligibile for membership. Academic, cultural and other relevant institutions and recognised NGOs will be eligible to apply to the Foundation for assistance. The ASEAN Foundation will be located in Jakarta and managed by a Board of Trustees, an Executive Director, an Advisory Council and staff comprising nationals of the ASEAN Member Countries. The first Executive Director will be appointed by the Government of Indonesia. The Government of Indonesia has also provided one million US Dollars as the first contribution for endowment and operational funds. Additional funds for the Foundation is expected to come from contributions of other Member Countries, Dialogue Partners, private corporations and other foundations and individuals.

At the First Informal Summit in Jakarta in November 1996, the ASEAN Heads of Government agreed on the establishment of the ASEAN Foundation to promote ASEAN awareness and people-to-people contact through scholarships, fellowships and other exchanges. The objectives of the ASEAN Foundation were envisioned in the Bangkok Summit Declaration of 1995, which aimed to elevate functional cooperation to a higher plane bringing shared prosperity through human development, technological competitiveness and social cohesiveness.