The John D. and
Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is the 12th-largest
private foundation in the United States. Based in Chicago, the
Foundation makes grants and impact investments to support non-profit
organizations in Chicago, across the U.S., and in approximately 50
countries. MacArthur reports that it has awarded more than US $6
billion since its first grants in 1978. According to the
Foundation, it has an endowment of $6.3 billion and provides
approximately $270 million annually in grants and impact
The Foundation's stated aim is to support "creative people, effective
institutions, and influential networks building a more just, verdant,
and peaceful world." MacArthur's current grant-making priorities
include mitigating climate change, reducing jail populations,
decreasing nuclear threats, supporting nonprofit journalism, and
funding local priorities in its hometown Chicago. The MacArthur
Fellows Program, also referred to as "genius grants", makes $625,000
no-strings-attached awards annually to about two dozen creative
individuals in diverse fields. The Foundation's 100&Change
competition awards a $100 million grant every three years to a single
proposal that addresses a critical problem of our time.
3 MacArthur Fellowship
5 Local concern
6 See also
8 External links
John D. MacArthur owned
Bankers Life and Casualty
Bankers Life and Casualty and other
businesses, as well as considerable property holdings in
New York. His wife, Catherine, held positions in many of these
companies. Their attorney, William T. Kirby, and Paul Doolen, their
CFO, suggested that the family create a foundation to be endowed by
their vast fortune. One of the reasons MacArthur originally set up the
Foundation was to avoid taxes.
When MacArthur died on January 6, 1978, he was worth in excess of
$1,000,000,000. He left 92 percent of his estate to found the John D.
Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The composition of the
Foundation’s first board of directors, per MacArthur’s will, also
included J. Roderick MacArthur, John's son from his first marriage,
two other officers of Bankers Life and Casualty, and radio commentator
Paul Harvey. Jonas Salk, the inventor of the polio vaccine, later
joined the Foundation's board of directors.
MacArthur believed in the free market. However, MacArthur did
not spell out specific parameters for how his money was to be spent
after he died. MacArthur told the Foundation's board of directors, "I
figured out how to make the money. You fellows will have to figure out
how to spend it."
Between 1979 and 1981, John's son J. Roderick MacArthur, an
ideological opponent of his father with whom the elder MacArthur had
an acrimonious relationship, waged a legal battle against the
Foundation for control of the board of directors. The younger
MacArthur sued eight members of the board, accusing them of
mismanagement of the Foundation's finances.
By 1981, most of the original board had been replaced by members who
agreed with J. Roderick MacArthur's desire to support liberal
causes. This ultimately resulted in the creation of what, in 2008,
historian and conservative commentator Martin Morse
Wooster called "one of the pillars of the liberal philanthropic
establishment." In 1984, MacArthur again sued the board of
directors, asking a Cook County circuit court to liquidate the entire
MacArthur Foundation. He dropped the suit later that same year when he
was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
John E. Corbally, the first president of the Foundation and later
board chairman from 1995 to 2002, was followed in 1989–99 by Adele
Simmons, who was the first female dean at Princeton
University. Jonathan Fanton, president of American Academy of
Arts and Sciences, served as the Foundation's next president.
Robert Gallucci, formerly dean of Georgetown University's School of
Foreign Service, served as the Foundation's fourth president from 2009
to 2014. Gallucci was fired in 2014, with the Foundation's
board announcing it was "looking for a new kind of leadership."
Julia Stasch, who formerly served as MacArthur's vice president for
U.S. Programs, was named the Foundation's new president in 2015.
Stasch had formerly served as chief of staff to
Chicago mayor Richard
Main article: MacArthur Fellows Program
The MacArthur Fellowship is an award issued by the MacArthur
Foundation each year, to typically 20 to 30 citizens or residents of
the United States, of any age and working in any field, who "show
exceptional merit and promise for continued and enhanced creative
work." The program was initiated in 1981. According to the
Foundation, the fellowship is not a reward for past accomplishment,
but an investment in a person's originality and potential. MacArthur
Fellows receive $625,000 each, which is paid out in quarterly
installments over five years. No one can apply for the program,
and, generally, no one knows if he or she is being considered as a
candidate. Nominators, serving confidentially, anonymously and for a
limited time, are invited to recommend potential Fellows. Candidates
are reviewed by a Selection Committee, whose members also serve
confidentially, anonymously and for a limited time. Ultimately, the
Committee makes recommendations to the Foundation's Board of Directors
for final approval.
A competition launched on June 2, 2016, will award a $100 million
grant to a single proposal designed to help solve a problem affecting
people, places, or the planet. The Foundation’s competition, called
"100&Change", is open to organizations working in any field of
endeavor. Applicants must identify both the problem they are trying to
solve, as well as their proposed solution. Competitive proposals must
be meaningful, verifiable, durable and feasible. Eight semi-finalists
were announced in February, 2017. A winning proposal is expected to be
selected at the end of 2017.
In 2016, Phillip Jackson, of The Black Star Project, criticized the
Chicago grant recipients. In response, MacArthur
president Julia Stasch wrote that the critique "inaccurately and
grossly understated our efforts to address the urgent problems that
confront our city" and that "Since 1979, we have provided $1.1 billion
in grants and direct impact investments to Chicago
organizations—more MacArthur funds than to any other place in the
List of wealthiest charitable foundations
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Internationalism. Springer. ISBN 9781137543301. Retrieved October
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People. Retrieved September 1, 2016.
^ Browning, Graeme (July 27, 1984). "The son of the man who
established the $1.5 billion foundation". United Press International.
Retrieved September 1, 2016.
^ a b c "MacArthur Foundation: Past Presidents". MacArthur Foundation.
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^ Fellers, Li (July 26, 2004). "Dr. John Corbally, 79: First President
Helped Establish MacArthur Foundation Identity".
Retrieved July 14, 2015.
^ "People in the News (4/20/14): Appointments and Promotions".
Philanthropy News Digest. April 20, 2014. Retrieved June 26,
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MacArthur Fellows Program unveils
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^ Stasch, Julia (June 1, 2016). "MacArthur chief: We have an
unwavering commitment to Chicago". Crain's
Chicago Business. Retrieved
June 21, 2016.
John D. and
Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
John D. MacArthur
Catherine T. MacArthur
MacArthur Fellows Program
John E. Corbally (1979–89)
Adele Simmons (1989–99)
Jonathan Fanton (1999–2009)
Robert Gallucci (2009–14)