2020 Annual Report

News and Reports


Dear Friends,

In March 2020, the pandemic changed our world. The spread of COVID-19 ignited an immediate health and human crisis that affected all of us but hit hardest the vulnerable in our communities: the homeless, people experiencing food, housing and financial insecurity, children and those living in unsafe situations. Seniors were especially susceptible to the terrible virus that would sicken millions and kill hundreds of thousands in the U.S. Midway through the year, social justice unrest added another layer of complexity to an already distressed society.

The Trust’s first concern as the pandemic unfolded was to help nonprofits adapt, survive and meet rapidly increasing demands. Our staff reached out to over 120 nonprofit organizations to determine critical areas of need and where the Trust could make the most impact.

For the first time in the Trust’s history, we exceeded our annual grants budget to support the unprecedented needs in our communities. The Trust distributed nearly $17 million in grants to Arizona and Indiana nonprofits in 2020, 23% more than in 2019.

It was clear that agencies required unrestricted funding to adapt to the growing crisis, so the Trust provided flexibility to use existing grant funds for operating costs and suspended the standard grantmaking schedule to flow funds into the community throughout the year.

The majority of the Trust’s pandemic relief efforts focused on addressing health and human service concerns. In addition to increased and more flexible grantmaking, we made substantial contributions to community emergency relief funds in each state. The Trust also increased financial support for our Nina Scholars, 27 of whom persevered to earn their college degrees despite significant pandemic-related pressures.

Even as we aggressively concentrated on human needs, the Trust maintained support for our animal welfare and environmental initiatives to sustain momentum in protecting animals and caring for essential waterways. We also provided funding to support hard-hit community and cultural institutions that are part of the Trust’s legacy.

Working with nonprofits addressing rapidly evolving demands, we were struck by what we witnessed over and over: Adaptability. Resilience. Ingenuity. Resolve. We are grateful to all of the organizations the Trust is privileged to partner with to serve our communities, especially in times such as these.

A final note: A review of such a singular year would be incomplete without acknowledging the extraordinary work of our staff who dedicated enormous and sustained energy to tracking community needs, streamlining grantmaking processes and helping the Trust target grantmaking for the greatest impact.

Please read on for an overview of achievements that inspired us and helped our communities endure in 2020.

Carol Peden Schilling
Trustee Chair

Kent E. Agness

Lisa Shover Kackley

Gene D'Adamo Nina Pulliam Trust

Gene D’Adamo
President and CEO


Grants Distributed in 2020: $10.63 million

Photo: Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Arizona

Nearly all of the health and human services organizations the Trust supports experienced significantly increased demand for services even as their own financial resources diminished and it became unsafe to have direct human contact. Grantees immediately pivoted to new, safe operation methods and partnerships to serve clientele. The food delivery system changed, with groups like Waste Not, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and United Food Bank in Arizona and Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, Second Helpings and Midwest Food Bank in Indiana partnering for curbside and community food box distribution in nontraditional outlets.

Central Indiana’s community centers became hubs for food distribution, housing and employment resources and technology to support virtual learning for out-of-school students. Domestic violence and child welfare organizations developed models for safely connecting with clients and provided increased virtual recruitment and training for foster families. As demand at homeless shelters increased, nonprofits, cities and organizations like the Human Services Campus in Phoenix and Coalition for Homelessness Intervention & Prevention in Indianapolis forged innovative partnerships to keep people housed. Justa Center in Phoenix tended to special needs among elderly homeless individuals.

As seniors became increasingly isolated in their homes, organizations including Benevilla in Arizona and CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions and community centers in Indiana increased grocery and prescription deliveries and organized phone calls to maintain human connection.

The efforts of Trust grantees helping people during this unparalleled time of need can only be described as herculean. These organizations eased suffering, increased safety and offered hope for our communities.

Nina Scholars

Like many college students nationwide, adapting to online learning, the loss of social interaction and increased financial concerns challenged Nina Scholars in 2020. Because Nina Scholars have physical disabilities, dependents at home or were formerly in the foster care system, many faced greater challenges than their traditional student peers. But due to the strength and resilience typical of Nina Scholars, and the ingenuity and commitment of the program coordinators at each school, scholars persevered despite the pandemic. The Trust is grateful to the program coordinators for staying in close contact with scholars, responding to individual needs, providing opportunities for scholars to connect with one another, allocating Trust-provided emergency funding and technology, and directing students to tutoring and counseling resources.

Learn more about the Nina Scholars program here.


Grants Distributed in 2020: $1.39 million

When the pandemic arose, Indiana and Arizona animal welfare organizations also were hard hit. Mandated shutdowns, staff illness, furloughs and falling revenue stressed organizations as needs among pet owners surged. Job losses and housing insecurity made it difficult for owners to care for their pets. With creativity and emergency funding, animal organizations in both states adapted to help struggling owners and pets.

Photo: FIDO

Upon reopening, Altered Tails in Arizona and IndyHumane and FACE Low-Cost Animal Clinic in Indiana ramped up spay/neuter surgeries with safety-conscious curbside pet drop-off/pick-up service. Fix.Adopt.Save. tripled the number of mobile clinics it offered in Maricopa County neighborhoods where rates of pet surrender and unaltered animals are highest. The organizations redoubled efforts after months of closures, and, as a result, there was not the expected dramatic decrease in spay/neuter surgeries in Maricopa and Marion counties.

In Indiana, FIDO established drive-thru pet food and supplies pick-up, and delivery to quarantined and ill pet owners, and worked with social workers from several nonprofits to provide pet food and basic supplies for clients. IndyHumane, in collaboration with FIDO and Indianapolis Animal Care Services, held a free drive-thru vaccine clinic to treat more than 900 dogs.

Caring for animals was a lifelong passion for Nina Mason Pulliam and the Trust honors her dedication through our animal welfare initiatives. Since the Trust began collaborative animal welfare grantmaking in 2012, more than 40,000 animal lives have been saved each year. Reductions in animal intake and euthanasia in county shelters in 2020 signal that increased efforts to help struggling pet owners reduced the number of surrendered and abandoned cats and dogs.


in grants distributed in 2020 to 20 agencies serving animal welfare


invested in animal welfare in Arizona and Indiana between 2012-2020

Learn more about the Trust’s animal welfare initiatives here.


Grants Distributed in 2020: $3.9 million

When the Trust announced a new environmental initiative in 2017, it awarded collaborative grants focused primarily on the Verde River in Arizona and the White River in Indiana, and raising awareness about environmental issues within our communities. The year 2020 marked the end of the first phase of the initiative and culminated in significant results. Here are a few:

Photo: Hamilton County Tourism
  • Innovative projects with The Nature Conservancy and Friends of the Verde River retained more than 1.8 billion gallons of water in the Verde River in 2020 alone.
  • The first Verde River Watershed Report Card is now in use as an ongoing tool to measure watershed condition and develop supportive communities engaged in improving its health.
  • The Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University, commissioned by the Trust, polled residents in Arizona and Indiana in 2017 and 2020 to see how voters’ opinions and attitudes about the environment are evolving. Both Hoosiers and Arizonans rank the environment in their top three policy priorities for government (behind only education and health care), and voters want state and federal leaders to do more to address climate change. View full poll results here.
  • Trust underwriting of environmental reporting teams at The Arizona Republic and The Indianapolis Star exponentially increased the amount of print and online environmental news coverage in both states, raising awareness about the pressing issues of our time.
  • In Indiana, farmers encouraged by The Nature Conservancy to engage in healthy soil practices nearly quadrupled the amount of cover crops cultivated in the White River watershed.
  • Water policy efforts by White River Alliance, Conservation Law Center, Hoosier Environmental Council, The Nature Conservancy and Indiana Wildlife Federation are laying the groundwork to make impactful changes — especially related to water quality and management — within the White River watershed.
Photo: The Nature Conservancy – Arizona

In 2020, the Trust announced it will distribute $7.9 million over three years to organizations in Arizona and Indiana to commence the next phase of our environmental initiative.

Learn more about the Trust’s environmental investments here.


The trustees of the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust take seriously their fiduciary role overseeing the investments that fuel the Trust’s grantmaking engine and its ability to serve our communities. Since its inception, the Trust has distributed nearly $337 million in grants and scholarships to 1,019 nonprofit organizations in Arizona and Indiana. In 2020, it distributed 175 grants totaling nearly $17 million. See an overview of our 2020 grantmaking and portfolio and investment highlights.