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MacArthur Foundation Statement in Response to Crisis

November 17, 2008

Jonathan Fanton, president of the Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, is the latest executive of a major foundation to release a statement in response to the economic crisis. Here, in its entirety, is the statement:

The MacArthur Foundation understands the importance of philanthropy in difficult economic times. While our endowment has declined this year, along with those of other major institutions, we remain committed to being a long-term, steady funder.

In past recessions, we maintained our grantmaking level and we intend to do so again now. Our total philanthropy is increasing from 2007 to 2008. We also expect to maintain or increase our grantmaking in 2009, despite the performance of the market to date.

We are in close contact with our grantees to learn how they are faring. Many have told us about significant losses to their own endowments, the challenging fundraising environment they face, and the impact of currency fluctuations for international organizations.

Even before the economic downturn, arts and culture organizations in the Chicago area saw cutbacks in public funding. More recently, they are reporting reduced ticket sales and increased costs for local groups that go on tour.

Given the significant needs of these organizations, we increased our annual operating support for arts and culture groups from $5.5 million to $7 million earlier this year.

Our $68 million foreclosure prevention and mitigation initiative comes out of our long-standing support for community and economic development in Chicago neighborhoods. This work also responds to local needs resulting from the economic crisis, which threatens to disrupt hard-won progress in some of the city’s most challenging, but promising, neighborhoods.

For 30 years, the MacArthur Foundation and its dedicated grantees have been working to build a more just, verdant, and peaceful world in Chicago, across the nation, and in 60 countries around the world. Despite the downturn in the economy, this important work must continue and it will.

-- Mitch Nauffts

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