2023 Annual Report

News and Reports


Dear Friends,

2023 marked a big milestone for the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust. The Trust celebrated 25 years of grantmaking, the halfway point of the life of the Trust, and partnered with nonprofit organizations that help people in need, protect animals and nature and enrich community life in Indiana and Arizona.

In 1998, the Trust awarded its first grants, carrying on the legacy of Nina Mason Pulliam. Mrs. Pulliam was an astute businessperson, accomplished writer and storyteller, and civic leader. Together, Eugene C. Pulliam and Nina Mason Pulliam built one of the most successful, independently owned newspaper chains, Central Newspapers Inc. Mrs. Pulliam was the founding secretary-treasurer and a director at CNI. Upon Mr. Pulliam’s death in 1975, Mrs. Pulliam served as The Arizona Republic and The Phoenix Gazette publisher until 1978 and the CNI president until 1979. Mrs. Pulliam devoted many hours to civic, charitable, and community work and, upon her death in 1997, a trust was established to support the causes she loved in Arizona and Indiana for 50 years after her death.

During the last 25 years, the Trust:

  • Distributed over $380 million in grants, more than the amount with which the Trust was established.
  • Saw 396 students graduate from four colleges and universities in the Nina Mason Pulliam Legacy Scholars Program since 2001. These individuals are nontraditional students who have physical disabilities, experienced significant financial hardships, have children, and/or came from the foster care system.
  • Nurtured long-term partnerships with nonprofits in Indianapolis and Phoenix, such as the Indianapolis and Phoenix zoos, the Heard and Eiteljorg museums, Foundation for Blind Children, Keys to Change, The Villages of Indiana and Brightlane Learning, among many others.
  • Became more strategic in its animal welfare and environmental giving areas. In doing so, euthanasia rates of cats and dogs decreased by 88% in Maricopa County and 84% in Marion County over a 10-year period and the number of spay and neuter surgeries increased. Also, billions of gallons of water were conserved in the Verde River and the accessibility and water quality of the White River have improved.
  • Expanded community impact by consistently collaborating with other funders, diving deeper into issues and their solutions, refining effective programs and increasing the number of new grantees that serve underrepresented groups.
  • Made a record $23 million in grants this year, including a commitment of an additional $4.5 million in 2024 to help with the Arizona homelessness crisis, which is among the worst in the nation.
  • Funded 10% more first-time grantees this year as part of the Trust’s ongoing efforts to broaden the ways in which we help solve community issues.

As we reflect on the first 25 years of the Trust and look forward to the next 25 years, the trustees and staff remain committed to honoring Mrs. Pulliam’s legacy by evolving to meet the needs of our communities in ways that she would heartily approve.

Continue reading for more about our communities and the Trust’s grantees.

Carol Peden Schilling
Trustee Chair

Kent E. Agness

Lisa Shover Kackley

Gene D'Adamo Nina Pulliam Trust

Gene D’Adamo
President and CEO

In the last few years, the Trust and its partners shifted resources, looked for ways to collaborate with other funders and grantees, refined effective programs and developed innovative solutions to problems in Phoenix and Indianapolis. In particular, the Trust evolved its grantmaking strategies to meet the needs of the most vulnerable community members. A record $23 million in grants was distributed to underserved populations in Arizona and Indiana this year. To celebrate its anniversary in 2023, the Trust shared meaningful stories on social media (which can be found using the handle “pulliamtrust”) and various media outlets featuring students, families, leaders and nonprofit organizations that positively impact the community. Below are some of the most memorable stories and program highlights from the last two decades.

American Journalism Project

In 2023, a coalition of Indiana and philanthropic organizations joined forces with the American Journalism Project to launch Free Press Indiana (a.k.a., Indiana Local News Initiative). The Trust committed $3 million to the initiative to support the role of an independent press in a free society, a cause core to Mrs. Pulliam. As she put it in her 1961 speech at the Theta Sigma Phi Women in Journalism Fraternity conference, “The search for truth is our noblest occupation; its publication, our avowed duty.” A free and impartial press is an essential pillar of democracy in the United States.

By censoring speech or limiting access to information and the press, citizens lose the ability to understand the world around them, participate in a free society and make informed decisions about their lives. In the last decade, there has been a sharp decline in original, local news content. The decline directly correlates to increases in public polarization and government waste and decreases in voter turnout and civic engagement. AJP developed Free Press Indiana after conducting a comprehensive statewide study about the state of journalism in Indiana. The initiative also created a citizen documenters program and partnerships with 18 local news organizations such as the Indy Recorder, WFYI Public Media, The Statehouse File and WISH-TV to amplify local journalism. Mirror Indy, the first newsroom of Free Press Indiana, launched in December 2023.

Arizona Humane Society

Since 2001, the Arizona Humane Society and the Trust have partnered on spay and neuter efforts, adoption initiatives and providing affordable resources for pet owners. The Trust was a leading funder of AHS’ Nina Mason Pulliam South Mountain Campus, home to more than 90,000 pet adoptions. In 2011, the Trust helped expand AHS’ veterinary clinic at the South Mountain Campus for pet owners in need. Today, the clinic serves low-income pet owners and cares for more than 6,500 pets annually. Additionally, with the Trust’s backing, AHS established Arizona’s first Pet Resource Center, a call center that fields 100,000 requests each year. In 2023, AHS completed the Rob and Melani Walton Papago Campus with the help of a $3 million grant from the Trust. The one-of-a-kind, 72,000 square-foot campus features two main buildings: the Nina Mason Pulliam P.E.T. Center and the Watts Family Medical Complex, anchored by the Lazin Animal Foundation Trauma Hospital.

In March 2024, the Arizona Humane Society hosted a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new, state-of-the-art Papago Park Campus, including the Nina Mason Pulliam P.E.T. Center.

Brightlane Learning

Founded in 2001 as School on Wheels, Brightlane Learning, began working with students and their caregivers who were experiencing homelessness. Brightlane provides services to K-12 students impacted by homelessness and housing instability. The Trust provided Brightlane eight grants over the years. In 2023, the Trust awarded it $150,000 to expand programming into additional high-needs schools in Indianapolis. This grant will ensure that students continue to overcome the lingering effects of the pandemic and housing instability on their academic learning.

Conservation Law Center

The Conservation Law Center works to improve conservation law and policy in Indiana while providing free legal counsel to environmental organizations. Over the years, the Trust partnered with CLC to advance environmental initiatives related to the White River. The CLC worked to encourage the development of watershed commissions throughout Indiana, establish the Geological Water and Survey Advisory Council, increase the Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s budget and educate farmers about the U.S. Department of Agriculture programs incentivizing farmers to help protect drinking water. In 2023, the Trust awarded $484,000 to CLC for Clean Water Indiana. This project focuses on improving the management of Indiana’s water resources, advancing the recommendations of the water report and protecting the water quality of the state’s freshwater resources with particular emphasis on the White River Watershed.


Since 1998, the Trust has invested nearly $17 million in animal welfare work in Maricopa County. In 2012, the Trust joined a funding collaborative to establish the Fix.Adopt.Save. initiative to help end pet homelessness. FAS brought together local animal welfare agencies under the Alliance for Companion Animals name to accomplish that goal. Alliance members include Altered Tails Barnhart Clinic, Animal Defense League of Arizona, Arizona Animal Welfare League, Arizona Humane Society, HALO Animal Rescue, Maricopa County Animal Care and Control, and PACC911. Since 2012, the euthanasia rate in Maricopa County dropped 83% and dog and cat intake in area shelters declined 55%.

To learn more about the Trust’s animal welfare efforts in Indiana and Arizona, click here.

FBC works with children and their families to develop skills and hobbies, make friends, and build confidence.

Foundation for Blind Children

After suffering temporary blindness due to a severe allergic reaction to newspaper printer ink, Mrs. Pulliam became a champion for the blind and visually impaired. For many years, the Trust has partnered with the Foundation for Blind Children in Arizona to provide education, tools, and resources to the blind and visually impaired children and adults. FBC, founded in 1952 by parents of blind children looking for services in Phoenix, now has the largest braille library in the country and is the only place in Arizona that serves the blind and people with low vision of all ages. Recently, FBC partnered with Arizona State University to create the first Teacher of the Visually Impaired degree program west of the Mississippi River. In 2023, the Trust awarded $225,000 to research and develop a national educational model for visually impaired individuals using FBC’s student curriculum and teacher training programs.

Friendly House provides education, workforce development and family support programs in Maricopa County.

Friendly House

For more than 100 years, Friendly House has helped people acquire citizenship, education and literacy skills. Originally established as a place to support individuals immigrating from Mexico, Friendly House evolved to provide emergency, workforce, financial and education programs to low-income individuals and diverse communities. The Trust awarded Friendly House more than eight grants over the course of several years, including $150,000 for education and support services for low-income individuals in 2023.

Friends of Indy Animals

The Friends of Indy Animals, formerly Friends of Indianapolis Animal Care Services Foundation, is the nonprofit arm of Indianapolis Animal Care Services. It helps IACS promote the safety, health, and adoption of more than 16,000 homeless animals yearly. The Friends worked with the City of Indianapolis to raise money for a new IACS shelter, to which the Trust granted $3 million. After years of assisting Friends of Indy Animals, in 2023 the Trust supported its first paid executive director to oversee operations and fundraising.

Heard Museum

Enchanted by Native American art and culture, Mrs. Pulliam was a lifelong supporter and board member at the Heard Museum in Phoenix. Since its founding in 1929, the museum has become internationally recognized for presenting the first-person stories of Native American people, as well as for the quality of its collections, exhibitions and educational programming. The museum regularly collaborates with Native American artists and tribal communities to provide visitors with a distinct perspective about the art and lives of Native people. The museum pavilion and entrance were named in Mrs. Pulliam’s honor and the Trust supported several museum projects in the last 25 years.

The entrance to the Heard Museum displays Mrs. Pulliam’s name to honor her legacy.

Indy Reads

For several years, the Trust partnered with Indy Reads to build literacy among adults and families in Indianapolis. Because Mrs. Pulliam believed education and literacy were the keys to building self-sufficiency and economic stability, the Trust worked with nonprofit organizations in Arizona and Indiana to build reading comprehension and literacy skills in youth and adults. Indy Reads’ mission is 100% literacy for all in Indiana where 1 in 6 adults read below a 5th grade level. In 2023, the Trust awarded $230,000 to Indy Reads to expand access to its programs and increase engagement with students and volunteers.

Keys to Change

In a post-pandemic world, rising interest rates, shortages in supplies and workforce and increasing housing, food, and medical costs have put additional strain on families and individuals struggling to make ends meet. In Phoenix and Indianapolis, the number of people experiencing homelessness or living in temporary housing jumped 23% and 21%, respectively. The Trust joined eight other Arizona funders to contribute $2.35 million to rapidly deploy help to those people experiencing homelessness in downtown Phoenix. Additionally, at the end of 2023, the Trust committed an additional $4.5 million over the next year to help people experiencing homelessness in Maricopa County. Keys to Change, formerly the Human Services Campus, is a longtime Trust partner and recently received a three-year, $2.25 million Trust grant to support homelessness prevention services.

Nina Scholars

Mrs. Pulliam believed education is the great equalizer and essential to reaching one’s full potential. The Trust established the Nina Mason Pulliam Legacy Scholars Program to provide educational opportunities for individuals experiencing financial, physical or social hardships. Since 2001, the Trust distributed more than $30 million in student scholarships and program support, and saw 396 Nina Scholars graduate from Arizona State University, Indiana University – Indianapolis, Maricopa Community Colleges and Ivy Tech Community College. Nina Scholars are the epitome of resilience, dedication and success, oftentimes outperforming their peer groups.

Nina Scholars Jesus Ledezma and Angela Fernau pose for a picture after graduation with ASU’s Watts College Dean Cynthia Leitz and the Trust’s Senior Program Officer Laura McBride.

Phoenix and Indianapolis zoos

According to Mrs. Pulliam, great communities should have great zoos. She believed in the educational role zoos play in society and the benefits of their scientific research and species conservation. In the early days of the Phoenix Zoo, the Pulliams paid zoo employee salaries from their beloved newspapers to ensure the zoo could continue operating. In 2023, the Phoenix Zoo’s Predator Passage made its debut to the public. The Trust contributed $1 million to construct a one-acre habitat for research, education and species conservation. Additionally, the new Africa Trail in Predators Passage features an overhead bridge and tower where visitors can view the new lion and hyena habitats, funded in part by the Trust. Other zoo projects supported by $3.3 million in Trust grants over the past 25 years aid in preserving the Sumatran tiger, orangutan and African lion.

The new Predators Passage at the Phoenix Zoo allows visitors to see the lion habitat up close.

This summer, the Indianapolis Zoo opened the Global Center Nina Mason Pulliam Grand Concourse and new main entrance. The Global Center for Species Survival consists of a team of conservation scientists who support more than 10,000 International Union for Conservation of Nature worldwide. The Trust invested $1.5 million in the concourse, an immersive visitor experience with close-up sights and sounds of animal and plant life and views of conservation projects happening in real time. Over the past 25 years, the Trust awarded the Indianapolis Zoo $4.9 million, including the concourse and the Nina Mason Pulliam Beacon of Hope and International Orangutan Center.

The Nina Mason Pulliam Beacon of Hope, a 150-foot spire at the Indianapolis Zoo, is lit as a symbol of hope that the orangutans will never become extinct.

The Nature Conservancy in Arizona

Since 2000, the Trust has teamed up with The Nature Conservancy in Arizona to restore and protect the Verde River in cooperation with farmers, businesses, landowners and public land managers. The worsening drought in Arizona resulted in considerable cutbacks to the state’s Colorado River allocations, making the need for a healthy, flowing Verde River even more critical. With the help of the Trust, TNC – Arizona and area farmers, ranchers and tribes implemented irrigation systems and conversion crops and improved conveyance to reduce water usage. This collaboration saved 6.6 billion gallons of water in the Verde Valley over the last three years, helping to preserve the drinking water supply for 14 municipalities. In 2023 alone, these projects preserved 140 habitat miles.

The Verde River is a key tributary of the Colorado River that provides water to communities and wildlife from Prescott to metro Phoenix.

The Villages of Indiana

The Villages of Indiana was established in 1978 with the belief that abused, neglected and abandoned children need stable families and loving environments to flourish. The Villages addresses the whole child by providing a continuum of support services for foster youth, such as transitional living services, home-based counseling and early childhood education services. With the support of the Trust, it helps 3,100 foster children and families every day.

White River Alliance

After a two-year process, the first White River Report Card was released in June 2023. Overall, the White River received a moderate health score of 51%, earning a letter grade of “C.” Led by the White River Alliance, Visit Indy, The Nature Conservancy and Flatland Resources, with a $155,500 grant from the Trust, community stakeholders graded the Upper White River Watershed on three broad indicator categories of community, land and water. Now the work of cleaning up the river and improving its overall health score begins. The White River Alliance, a Trust partner for many years, is a consortium of local government, industries, universities, regional communities and utilities. The Trust awarded $1 million to the alliance in 2023.


As of Dec. 31, 2023, the Trust’s endowment was an estimated $429 million. Since inception, the Trust paid more than $380 million to 1,023 nonprofit organizations in Arizona and Indiana. In 2023, the Trust distributed 192 grants and paid more than $22 million.

See an overview of our 2023 grantmaking.
View a list of the Trust’s grantees.

The Trust’s audited financial statements will be available on our website after July 15, 2024.