For immediate release
June 23, 1999

Grant Will Support NPR Endowment Fund for Excellence and Fund New Initiatives

WASHINGTON, DC - The Board of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has approved a $4 million grant to National Public Radio® (NPR®), the nation's leading provider of news, information, and cultural programming to public radio stations.

"This is the largest grant we've ever made to a media organization. There is no more important news organization in this country than NPR," says Woodward Wickham, Vice President for the General Program at the MacArthur Foundation. "The continued success of NPR and the depth and perspective its news coverage provides will be vital in helping Americans make informed decisions about their lives and their country in the next century."

Of the $4 million, MacArthur has designated $3 million as a challenge grant for NPR's Endowment Fund for Excellence, which must be matched by other supporters. This is the largest endowment grant that NPR has ever received and comes at a critical time for NPR, as rapidly changing technologies and demographic patterns present NPR with new opportunities for leadership in expanding public radio's horizons.

The grant also earmarks $1 million for NPR's Fund for New Initiatives which provides immediate support for new programs and activities while the endowment grows. Current priorities include building a network of regional bureau chiefs to decentralize NPR's news operations and train local reporting talent and growing new audiences through NPR Online, NPR's Web site. Revenue generated by the endowment will also support these as well as other priorities.

"The MacArthur Foundation's very generous commitment will enable us to immediately strengthen our current programs and services. It will also contribute substantially toward building our endowment, which will help assure NPR's continuing excellence and innovation," says NPR President and CEO Kevin Klose.

MacArthur's gift brings NPR's endowment to over $10.5 million, small as compared to many other non-profits of its size and national reach. NPR faces special challenges in its efforts to fund the endowment because it does not have a sizable individual donor base, the traditional source of endowment funding. NPR is prohibited from directly soliciting contributions from the public at large -- on-air fundraising, direct mail, and telephone solicitation remain a prerogative of public radio stations. Currently, NPR funds about 50 to 55 percent of its operations from revenues from 608 NPR member stations which pay membership dues and program fees to NPR. Most of the balance of NPR's total annual income is contributed support from foundations and corporations. Contrary to common perception, NPR receives no federal money for generating operating support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting or any other government agency, although NPR is eligible to compete for federal programming grants, which typically account for 2 percent of its annual budget.

"Our goal is to have an endowment that at least equals NPR's annual operating budget, which stands at over $70 million right now," says John Herrmann, Chairman of the NPR Foundation's Board of Trustees.

The NPR Foundation is a not-for-profit subsidiary of NPR, formed in 1993 to provide NPR with volunteer fundraising leadership. Its Trustees are civic, corporate, and cultural leaders across the country, all of whom are committed to broadening NPR's base of financial support. Trustees personally provide financial support for NPR and take the lead in soliciting major gifts for the Endowment and Fund for New Initiatives. Many Trustees also are actively involved in their local NPR member stations.

Matching contributions will be sought by NPR Foundation Trustees and NPR's Development Office from long-time foundation and corporate supporters, as well as individuals nationwide.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is a private, independent grantmaking institution dedicated to helping groups and individuals foster lasting improvement in the human condition. The Foundation's General Program undertakes special initiatives and supports projects that promote excellence and diversity in the media.

National Public Radio is a membership organization of 607 public radio stations across America. NPR produces and distributes award-winning programs such as Morning Edition®, All Things Considered®, NPR's Performance Today® and CarTalk.