MacArthur Foundation
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. Based in Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

 but supporting non-profit organization
Non-profit organization
Nonprofit organization is neither a legal nor technical definition but generally refers to an organization that uses surplus revenues to achieve its goals, rather than distributing them as profit or dividends...

s that work in 60 countries, MacArthur has awarded more than US$4 billion since its inception in 1978. With an endowment over $5.6 billion, the foundation provides approximately $230 million annually in grants and low-interest loans.

In addition to selecting the MacArthur Fellows, also known as "genius grants," topics of interest to the foundation include international peace
Peace is a state of harmony characterized by the lack of violent conflict. Commonly understood as the absence of hostility, peace also suggests the existence of healthy or newly healed interpersonal or international relationships, prosperity in matters of social or economic welfare, the...

 and security, conservation
Conservation biology
Conservation biology is the scientific study of the nature and status of Earth's biodiversity with the aim of protecting species, their habitats, and ecosystems from excessive rates of extinction...

 and sustainable development
Sustainable development
Sustainable development is a pattern of resource use, that aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations to come...

, population and reproductive health
Reproductive health
Within the framework of the World Health Organization's definition of health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, reproductive health, or sexual health/hygiene, addresses the reproductive processes, functions and system...

, human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

, international migration
International migration
International migration occurs when peoples cross state boundaries and stay in the host state for some minimum length of time. Migration occurs for many reasons. Many people leave their home countries in order to look for economic opportunities in another country. Others migrate to be with family...

, community development
Community development
Community development is a broad term applied to the practices and academic disciplines of civic leaders, activists, involved citizens and professionals to improve various aspects of local communities....

, affordable housing
Affordable housing
Affordable housing is a term used to describe dwelling units whose total housing costs are deemed "affordable" to those that have a median income. Although the term is often applied to rental housing that is within the financial means of those in the lower income ranges of a geographical area, the...

, digital media
Digital media
Digital media is a form of electronic media where data is stored in digital form. It can refer to the technical aspect of storage and transmission Digital media is a form of electronic media where data is stored in digital (as opposed to analog) form. It can refer to the technical aspect of...

 and learning, juvenile justice, and public interest
Public interest
The public interest refers to the "common well-being" or "general welfare." The public interest is central to policy debates, politics, democracy and the nature of government itself...

Mass media
Mass media refers collectively to all media technologies which are intended to reach a large audience via mass communication. Broadcast media transmit their information electronically and comprise of television, film and radio, movies, CDs, DVDs and some other gadgets like cameras or video consoles...

, including public radio and independent
Independent film
An independent film, or indie film, is a professional film production resulting in a feature film that is produced mostly or completely outside of the major film studio system. In addition to being produced and distributed by independent entertainment companies, independent films are also produced...

 documentary film
Documentary film
Documentary films constitute a broad category of nonfictional motion pictures intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction or maintaining a historical record...

. The Foundation also gives grants to more than 200 arts and cultural institutions in the Chicago area.


John D. MacArthur
John D. MacArthur
John Donald MacArthur was an American businessman and philanthropist who established the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, benefactor in the MacArthur Fellowships.-Early life:...

 (1897–1978) owned Bankers Life and Casualty
Bankers Life and Casualty
Established in 1879 in Chicago, Bankers Life and Casualty Company focuses on the insurance needs of the retirement market. The nationwide company, a subsidiary of CNO Financial Group, Inc...

 and other businesses, as well as considerable property in Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

 and New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

. His wife Catherine T. MacArthur
Catherine T. MacArthur
Catherine T. MacArthur was the wife of U.S. businessman and philanthropist John D. MacArthur and was an active participant in his businesses and philanthropies. One of the ten largest philanthropic foundations in the United States, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, is named after...

 (1908–1981) held positions in many of these companies. John MacArthur's attorney William T. Kirby
William T. Kirby
William T. Kirby was a founding member of the board of directors and Chairman of the Board of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation....

, along with Paul Doolen, MacArthur's CFO, suggested that the MacArthurs create a foundation to be endowed by their vast fortune. The legal document that created the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation was two pages long and written by Kirby in plain language.

When John died on January 6, 1978, he was worth in excess of $1 billion and was reportedly one of the three richest men in the United States. MacArthur left 92 percent of his estate to begin the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The composition of the Foundation’s first Board of Directors, per John D. MacArthur’s will, also included Catherine, J. Roderick MacArthur
J. Roderick MacArthur
John Roderick MacArthur was a U.S. businessman and philanthropist. The J. Roderick MacArthur Foundation, a philanthropic organization interested in Civil Liberties in the United States, and the MacArthur Justice Center at the Northwestern University School of Law are named after him. He is the...

 (a son from John D. MacArthur’s first marriage), two other officers of Bankers Life and Casualty, and radio commentator Paul Harvey
Paul Harvey
Paul Harvey Aurandt , better known as Paul Harvey, was an American radio broadcaster for the ABC Radio Networks. He broadcast News and Comment on weekday mornings and mid-days, and at noon on Saturdays, as well as his famous The Rest of the Story segments. His listening audience was estimated, at...


Doolen was the first board chair of the Foundation, serving from 1979-1984. John Corbally was the first president of the Foundation, who served from 1979-1989. Adele Simmons was the second president of the Foundation, serving from 1989 to 1999. Jonathan F. Fanton, formerly President of the New School for Social Research, served as MacArthur's president from 1999 to 2009. On July 1, 2009, Robert L. Gallucci, formerly dean of Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, began as the Foundation's fourth president. There are also overseas offices in Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

, India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

, and Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...


MacArthur Fellowship

William T. Kirby
William T. Kirby
William T. Kirby was a founding member of the board of directors and Chairman of the Board of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation....

, a founding member of the board of directors and Chairman of the Board until his death, suggested that the MacArthur Foundation create the Fellows Program. He credited his doctor, Dr. George Burch
George E. Burch
George Edward Burch was a shaper of modern cardiology during the middle part of the twentieth century, whose accomplishments included elucidating the fundamental physiological basis of important cardiovascular diseases, in addition to contributions to the teaching of medicine and cardiology. He...

 of Tulane University
Tulane University
Tulane University is a private, nonsectarian research university located in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States...

, for bringing this idea to his attention. The philanthropist's son J. Roderick MacArthur
J. Roderick MacArthur
John Roderick MacArthur was a U.S. businessman and philanthropist. The J. Roderick MacArthur Foundation, a philanthropic organization interested in Civil Liberties in the United States, and the MacArthur Justice Center at the Northwestern University School of Law are named after him. He is the...

 was the chief implementer of the details of the Fellows Program, and its strongest supporter.

The MacArthur Fellowship is an award issued by the MacArthur Foundation each year, to typically 20 to 25 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." According to the Foundation website, "the fellowship is not a reward for past accomplishment, but rather an investment in a person's originality, insight, and potential."

The Foundation does not accept applications or grant interviews. The foundation relies on anonymous nominators, who submit recommendations to a small selection committee of about a dozen people. The committee then reviews every applicant and passes along their recommendations to the President and the board of directors. The entire process is anonymous and confidential. The first time that a new MacArthur Fellow learns that he or she was even being considered is upon receiving a phone call telling him or her the news of the award.

See also

  • Rockefeller Brothers Fund
    Rockefeller Brothers Fund
    The Rockefeller Brothers Fund , , is an international philanthropic organisation created and run by members of the Rockefeller family. It was set up in New York City in 1940 as the primary philanthropic vehicle of the five famous Rockefeller brothers: John D...

  • Rockefeller Foundation
    Rockefeller Foundation
    The Rockefeller Foundation is a prominent philanthropic organization and private foundation based at 420 Fifth Avenue, New York City. The preeminent institution established by the six-generation Rockefeller family, it was founded by John D. Rockefeller , along with his son John D. Rockefeller, Jr...

  • Carnegie Corporation
  • List of wealthiest foundations

External links

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