Press Release

$2.6 million goes to 50 Arizona organizations, greatest needs to be served

March 24, 2009


(Phoenix) — The community’s economic hardships have changed a 10-year policy at the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust with the Trusts announcement it will not accept requests for grants to capital campaigns for buildings or endowment purposes. The moratorium redirects these funds to human-service organizations providing food, clothing and shelter to citizens experiencing the greatest difficulties.

With these exceptional times, the Trustees felt certain that Nina Pulliam would have wanted to assure as much funding as possible is directed to services directly touching the lives of families needing assistance in her hometown of Phoenix said Frank E. Russell, Trust Chairman. Last October we made the decision to redirect our 2009 capital funding to the Trust’s newly created Emergency Funding Initiative.

The Trust’s decision translates to granting $2,594,000 to Valley organizations with almost 90 percent of total dollars directed to Helping People in Need; the largest percentage distribution to this category since the Trust began grantmaking in 1998.

In addition to awarding grants totaling $1,794,000 to 33 nonprofit organizations participating in the Trusts first round of funding this year, Harriet Ivey, Trust president and CEO reported, The Trust’s Emergency Funding Initiative is infusing an additional $500,000 into 17 Valley Community Action Programs providing housing assistance, and leveraging $300,000 as part of a collaborative funding challenge.

In November we met with city and county officials asking how Trust funds could be best put to work. Together, we created an emergency grant initiative for rent/mortgage assistance targeting households with income of 150 percent to 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines, said Ed Portnoy, Ph.D., director of the Trusts Arizona grants programs.

The families who will receive assistance are at a tipping point. These families are already extended due to economic challenges, when an unplanned expense or emergency puts them at risk of losing their housing. Because of the Trust’s support, the CAP agencies can now provide assistance to these families who, in turn, will then continue to be independent and self-supporting members of our communities, Portnoy added.

The Trust’s Emergency Funding Initiative for the CAP agencies will make a real and measurable difference for the families it touches and now allows us to reach, said Gloria Hurtado, director of human services for the city of Phoenix. Our departments are stretched and our budgets continue to be cut. Because of the Trust, we can now provide assistance to these one-time-need families that will keep them from becoming part of the system.

These families are truly the most salvageable. The Trust’s support will make a real difference, providing financial assistance that will keep these families in their homes and not become part of the growing homeless statistics, said Trish Georgeff, director of Maricopa County Department of Human Services. Because these families are just above the federal assistance standards, programs are very limited for this type of emergency assistance, she explained.

The Trust’s Emergency Funding Initiative allows us to help families who would, no doubt, lose their home or apartment otherwise, added Hurtado.

The Trust will divide grants totaling $500,000 among the city of Phoenix, distributing $275,000; the city of Mesa, distributing $62,656 through A New Leaf/Mesa CAN; and Maricopa County, distributing $162,344 to assist more than 750 Valley families stay in their apartments and homes.

The Maricopa County CAP offices, with additional jurisdictions served, include: AVONDALE, Goodyear; BUCKEYE; CHANDLER, Queen Creek, Sun Lakes; EL MIRAGE, Litchfield Park, Sun City, Sun City West, Surprise, Youngtown; GILA BEND; GILBERT; GLENDALE; GUADALUPE; PEORIA, Carefree, Cave Creek, New River, Rio Verde; SCOTTSDALE; TEMPE, Fountain Hills; TOLLESON; WICKENBURG.

The Trust has also pledged $300,000 to the $1.4 million community relief matching fund campaign, The Changing Face of Poverty.

The campaign is modeled after successful community challenge programs in Columbus, Ohio, and Indianapolis, Indiana, said Portnoy, who brought the idea before his peers at a special meeting of local grantmakers last December and serves as campaign spokesperson. With the extreme generosity our state’s citizens shows their fellow citizens in times of crisis, why not take a successful model and bring it here with members of our funding community already on board, leveraging the support of all to create the greatest impact, Portnoy added.

The Trust joins Arizona Community Foundation, Arizona Republic Charities, BHHS Legacy Foundation, The Bidstrup Foundation, JPMorgan Chase, Lodestar Foundation, Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, Valley of the Sun United Way, and Wells Fargo. The campaign runs through April 19 and will distribute funds to organizations providing basic needs assistance of food, shelter, health and emergency assistance. The web site for the project is

People who have never before needed food boxes, shelter or help paying their rent are now in need, dramatically changing the profile of what most people consider impoverished, Portnoy said.

Our staff asked the Trustees to approve these unique initiatives that go beyond the Trust’s established grantmaking processes and deepen the Trust’s commitment to be a responsive community grantmaking partner, Russell explained.

These are challenging times. And, our grantees are doing an exceptional job of bringing relief to those in the greatest need; furthering Nina Pulliam’s legacy in her hometown through their daily work and ongoing commitments to their life-changing missions.

Russell added that Nina Mason Pulliam Legacy Scholars, the Trust’s signature scholarship program at ASU and Maricopa Community Colleges, continues to bring the dream of a college education to student populations traditional scholarship programs overlook. Since the program’s inception, it has touched the lives of 184 men and women in Phoenix with 52 graduates. The application deadline for cohort 9 is April 1.

Since 1998, the Trust has awarded more than $77 million to 350 nonprofit organizations in Arizona in the areas of Helping People in Need, Protecting Animals and Nature and Enriching Community Life. Visit for more information about the Trust and its programs, including the Nina Scholars program.