Bequests appear from Cargill heir, a ‘silent philanthropist’
PBS has received $800,000 for its arts initiative, the first part of a bequest to the network from billionaire “silent philanthropist” Margaret A. Cargill.
President Paula Kerger mentioned the “very large grant” during last month’s PBS Board meeting. It came through the Anne Ray Charitable Trust, named for Cargill’s mother, one of Cargill’s three charitable institutions.
Last May PBS received a smaller amount, $50,000 for programming over five years, from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation. The foundation, formed in January 2009, is the 22nd-largest in the nation with $2.12 billion in assets, according to the Foundation Center.
Public television was “clearly very, very important to Margaret,” said foundation spokesperson Sallie Gaines. “In her lifetime she was very generous to public TV, anonymously,” particularly her local station, KPBS in San Diego. Cargill’s foundation as well as the Ray trust and Akaloa Resource Foundation, which Cargill reserved for her California donations, now carry on that work. Last year Akaloa gave KPBS $79,000 for an education reporter and $521,000 for local and national programming.
Like NPR benefactor Joan Kroc, she had lived in La Jolla, on the north edge of San Diego.
Jan McNamara, PBS spokesperson, said the network and the Ray Trust are continuing conversations about partnerships.
Cargill, granddaughter of W.W. Cargill, founder of the agricultural commodities giant, died in 2006 at the age of 85. During her life she demanded total anonymity in her charitable giving. Gaines said the philanthropist “felt the focus should always be on the organization providing the service, that was what deserved credit. She was adamant about not taking credit.” Her lifetime donations exceeded $200 million, according to her Washington Post obituary.
Cargill directed that her foundation assist a broad range of causes, including the environment, arts, disaster relief, children, education, tolerance and conflict resolution, animal care, American Indian culture, and the elderly.
The foundation does not accept solicitations. Instead, its trustees identify organizations that work to achieve Cargill’s priorities. The inaugural round of grants going out this year “is an effort by the trustees to identify organizations that clearly fit within the parameters,” Gaines said. Trustees “wanted to make a footprint with the first round.” She had no information on the number or size of future grants. “The foundation is so new, the drywall isn’t even dry yet,” she quipped.
The arts initiative is a pet project for Kerger, who raised funds for the Metropolitan Opera and WNET arts programs earlier in her career. She has often listed arts programs among her priorities since coming to PBS four years ago. The arts showcase would include a weekly primetime arts night, along with online on-demand content. The National Endowment for the Arts has also contributed $100,000 so far. A launch date has not yet been set.
Web page posted April 5, 2010
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