The Annenberg Foundation is a family foundation founded by Walter H. Annenberg. Serving as Ambassador to the Court of St. James from 1968 to 1974, Ambassador Annenberg enjoyed a distinguished career as a publisher, broadcaster, diplomat and philanthropist. He was President, and subsequently, Chairman of the Board, of Triangle Publications, which included TV Guide and Seventeen magazine, as well as radio and TV stations nation-wide.
The Annenberg Foundation was established in 1989 with $1.2 billion, one third of the assets from the sale of Triangle Publications. Ambassador Annenberg founded The Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania in 1958 and The Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California in 1971. In 1983, he established the Washington Program in Communication Policy Studies.
Ambassador Annenberg endowed chairs at more than a dozen colleges; and major gifts to support the arts, presidential libraries, hospitals, orchestras, and museums. He and his wife Leonore Annenberg were celebrated art patrons whose collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces were donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
In 1993, the Foundation made a staggering commitment to public education with one of the largest gifts in philanthropic history: the $500 million Annenberg Challenge for School Reform, which worked to revive and inspire public school reform in eighteen sites across the nation. Its funding was spread among cities throughout the U.S. and catalyzed more than $600 million in matching grants. The Annenberg Challenge initiated reform in countless school districts in which work continues today.
Upon Walter H. Annenberg's death in 2002, his wife Leonore assumed leadership of the Foundation. In March, 2009, Leonore passed away, leaving the foundation's trusteeship to Wallis Annenberg and three of her children: Lauren Bon, Gregory Annenberg Weingarten and Charles Annenberg Weingarten.
At their direction, the Foundation continues its historic program focus but is expanding to include environmental stewardship, social justice and animal welfare. Over the past several years, the Foundation has evolved from a traditional grantmaking institution to one that is also directly involved in the community with its unique charitable activities through which large-scale solutions to systemic problems are pursued.
The Honorable Walter H. Annenberg and the Honorable Leonore Annenberg
(photo: © Douglas Kirkland)
Strengthening Nonprofits by Offering Professional Development and Technical Assistance
The Annenberg Capacity Building Initiatives: To further serve the community, the Foundation is committed to strengthening the nonprofit infrastructure through a series of efforts that include free executive development and subsidized grantwriting training.
The Annenberg Nonprofit Leadership Seminar brings together the leaders of nonprofit organizations for two and a half days in a workshop environment, with the goal of enabling them to work more effectively with the corporate, government and nonprofit sectors as well as other nonprofit CEOs and board chairs. The “cost of admission” for the seminar is the commitment of both the Executive Director and Board Chair of the organization to attend the full two-day seminar in Los Angeles, California.
Project Grantsmanship is a comprehensive, hands-on workshop held in Los Angeles, California designed to train nonprofit leaders to plan more effective programs and produce compelling proposals for funding. Development professionals from qualified nonprofits are eligible for low-cost grantwriting training. Additionally, program officers often participate on panels, informally named Meet the Grantmakers, with Los Angeles nonprofit leaders to better acquaint them with the Foundation and its mission. The Foundation is also currently developing ongoing sessions with nonprofit leaders in low-income, underserved communities in Los Angeles, to create a dialog to clarify what needs and challenges must be directly addressed.
Bridging Private and Public Partnerships
The Foundation has supported a number of collaborative projects with city departments and non-profits to create new opportunities, benefits and experiences for the people in our community.
The Wallis Annenberg Heart Program: Coordinating with both the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles County fire protection agencies along with private and public healthcare entities, the Foundation helped create a new paramedic system for improving the diagnosis and treatment of chest pain in thousands of Los Angeles area residents each year. Implemented in 2005, the new method replaced previous 4-lead EKG procedures, with a more accurate and revealing 12-lead system that helps paramedics and hospital-based physicians better diagnose and treat patients with symptoms of heart attacks.
Creating Community Space
While all of the following efforts incorporate public private partnerships, they are also examples of another priority of the Foundation: creating community space. The Foundation has been instrumental in a number of projects which preserve and repurpose historic properties for public use.
Annenberg Space for Photography: The Foundation created a new community cultural destination that informs and inspires the public by connecting photographers, philanthropy and the human experience through powerful images and stories, located on the former site of the Shubert Theater in Los Angeles, California. The Photography Space features images by established and emerging photographers in cutting-edge digital format and traditional print, lectures, workshops and other events.
Annenberg Community Beach House: The five-acre former Marion Davies Estate at 415 Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica, California is a public community beach house with recreational and meeting facilities, a pool, paddle tennis courts, and ready access to the beach. The facility is designed to provide a vibrant public recreational destination for the region.
Not a Cornfield: A living sculpture in the form of a 32-acre field of corn in Los Angeles, California was created in 2005 by artist and Foundation Trustee Lauren Bon. The “Not a Cornfield” temporary art installation was located just north of Chinatown and south of Lincoln Heights on the site of the future Los Angeles State Historic Park. Major design elements – including community access—were created through the broad input of local residents and public officials. The program enabled visitors to the site to participate in far-ranging artistic and cultural activities while addressing larger issues of community space and urban sustainability.
The Universally-Accessible Treehouse in Torrance, California: The first universally-accessible treehouse in a public space in California was opened April 10, 2005 at Wilson Park in Torrance, California. The treehouse, a 2,500 square foot wooden structure, was designed to give children and adults of all ages and physical abilities an awe-inspiring experience -- and a bird's eye view. Created as a service to the immediate community and as an inspiration for others, nearly 30 treehouses have been built nationally.
Wallis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts, Beverly Hills, California: This effort will preserve the landmark, historic Beverly Hills Post Office (adjacent to the Beverly Hills City Hall) by transforming the building into a dynamic performing arts and cultural facility for the presentation of theater, dance, music, professional children's theater and other cultural activities. The Center will feature a 500-seat theater, a 150-seat studio theater/rehearsal hall, classrooms, café, gift shop and sculpture garden. The project is slated for completion in 2013.
Malibu Legacy Park Project: The Foundation offered a 1:1 challenge grant to the City of Malibu to help raise funds for a project to address water quality improvement, habitat restoration, educational outreach, and improved recreational opportunities in Malibu, California through the creation of a 15-acre park on undeveloped land.
Ocean Alliance's Tarr and Wonson Paint Manufactory: The Foundation provided funding to help purchase, preserve and restore the Tarr and Wonson Paint Manufactory in Gloucester, Massachusetts. This historic 1863 building at the entrance to the harbor will become the headquarters for Ocean Alliance, a world renowned nonprofit oceanographic research center.
Expanding Environmental Stewardship
In response to the critical need to advance environmental stewardship, the Annenberg Foundation expanded its grantmaking portfolio to support programs and organizations centered on urban sustainability in Southern California. The Foundation provides funding for vision driven leadership; and projects pertaining to air and water quality; land use and resource management; wildlife conservation; and education. Through these efforts, the Foundation hopes to attract other environmental funders to the Los Angeles area.
Metabolic Studio: A think tank and studio dedicated to the preservation and perpetuity of living things in an urban environment, Metabolic Studio explores the use of art, creative thought and care of the environment. Research, projects and events address issues of urban land use, farming, social justice, culture, environmental responsibility, and the need for a more balanced use of global resources. Metabolic Studio presents a free weekly speaker series open to the public as well as exhibits and educational events in its warehouse space in downtown Los Angeles, California.
Using the Power of Multimedia
Explore: Using digital narratives as programming delivered through a variety of platforms, including television and the internet at www.explore.org, Explore is a series of filmed and photographed site visits to nonprofit organizations and leaders around the world whose work has potential impact at all levels. As a result of such journeys, approximately $10 million in grants have been made in 16 countries over the last three years. While these site visits are made as research for potential grant funding by the Foundation, they serve a dual purpose — to showcase independent voices and work from around the world that advances the values and vision of truly meaningful philanthropy.