Press Release

Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust surpasses $300 million in giving

Achieving enduring change in lives of nontraditional students, animal welfare and the environment

INDIANAPOLIS – (December 4, 2018) At the conclusion of its most recent round of grantmaking, the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust surpassed the $300 million milestone. Since its inception in 1997, the Trust has distributed $305 million in grants and scholarships to 988 nonprofit organizations in Indiana and Arizona, making an impact through its giving areas of helping people in need, protecting animals and nature, and enriching community life.

“Nina Mason Pulliam believed in lending a hand to people experiencing difficulty. She believed in education as essential to reaching one’s potential. She loved animals and nature. She devoted her life and her fortune to these causes,” said Carol Peden Schilling, trustee chair and Pulliam’s niece. “As we reach this milestone, we are thrilled to consider the extraordinary impact her bequest is achieving.”

Pulliam directed her assets, approximately $350 million in 1997, be used to establish a limited-life trust, to sunset after 50 years. Now in its 21st year of giving, the Trust has $383 million in assets.

Helping People in Need
Helping people in need represents the majority of Trust grantmaking. Since its inception, the Trust has invested more than $209 million in this priority area, primarily supporting organizations and programs in the areas of self-sufficiency, crisis intervention, foster care, and education and literacy.

The Trust established its flagship program, the Nina Mason Pulliam Legacy Scholars, in 2001, to help individuals who have experienced significant adversity successfully build a better future for themselves and their families through higher education. A recent study of Nina Scholars found their overall success rate was 73.8 percent, outpacing the graduation rates of traditional student peers. Nina Scholars, who attend four colleges and universities in Indiana and Arizona, are adults with dependents, people who have physical challenges and youth who have been in the foster care system.

Intensive mentorship and support for Nina Scholars who are aging out of the foster care system is resulting in scholars achieving college degrees at more than twice the rate of their foster care peers. The Trust has invested more than $26 million in the Nina Scholars program, including its largest single gift to date, a $3 million endowment to the Indiana University Foundation to fund the program at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis in perpetuity.

Protecting Animals and Nature
The Trust is one of the largest consistent private funders of environmental and animal welfare programs and initiatives in Indiana and Arizona. To date, the Trust has invested $65 million in protecting animals and nature.

In 2012, the Trust established collaborative animal welfare initiatives with nonprofit organizations in Maricopa County, Arizona and Marion County, Indiana. During the initiatives’ first five years, euthanasia rates among cats and dogs dropped 86 percent and 70 percent in the counties, respectively. The Trust’s animal welfare efforts focus on reducing euthanasia and pet homelessness through supporting low- and no-cost spay/neuter surgeries, adoptions and public education.

In recent years, the Trust refined its environmental strategy to focus primarily on restoring and protecting critical waterways in Indiana and Arizona, and to increasing awareness of environmental issues. In 2017, the Trust committed nearly $8 million in collaborative three-year grants to protect and restore the White River in Indiana and the Verde River in Arizona. According to The Nature Conservancy in Arizona, the Trust’s Verde River projects will result in an estimated 378 million gallons of water saved annually, either through reduced consumption or returning water to the river.

In Indiana, the Trust’s investment is instrumental in driving increased emphasis on waterway protection and water use planning. The Trust supported the first statewide Indiana Water Summit, and is participating in the White River Vision Plan, a joint effort among two counties and numerous municipalities, organizations and stakeholders developing a community-driven plan to enhance 58 miles of the White River. The Trust has funded collaborative grants with multiple Indianapolis-area nonprofit organizations connected to the White River and its waterways. Their endeavors include performing water quality research and monitoring, helping reduce pollution, improving wildlife habitat, and increasing Hoosiers’ access and connection to the river.

To increase awareness of environmental issues and support an informed populace, the Trust provided grants to underwrite environmental reporting at the largest daily newspapers in its home states, The Arizona Republic and The Indianapolis Star. The Trust also established state and international environmental reporting awards in cooperation with the Society of Professional Journalists, the Society of Environmental Journalists, the Hoosier State Press Association and the Arizona Press Club. The reporting investments are tied to Nina Pulliam’s roots as a journalist and former co-owner, with her husband Gene, of Central Newspapers Inc., a national newspaper company that once owned The Arizona Republic and Indianapolis Star, among other holdings.

Enriching Community Life
The Trust’s $30.3 million investment in enriching community life focuses on enhancing overall civic, cultural and economic vitality. The Trust primarily contributes to institutions and organizations that give a city its “soul” – libraries, zoos and museums.

The Trust has granted nearly $6.5 million to the Phoenix and Indianapolis zoos and $6.2 million to museums celebrating American Indian culture in both states. It also invested nearly $3 million in libraries in the Phoenix and Indianapolis communities, among numerous other organizations.

“It is an honor to work with outstanding grantees and colleagues to address our community’s challenges and explore solutions,” said Gene D’Adamo, Trust president and CEO. “As we look to the future, we will continue to refine and evolve our grantmaking strategies, and learn from our communities, so we can make even greater impact during the remainder of the Trust’s lifespan.”

During the second round of grantmaking in 2018, the Trust committed $3.27 million to 47 nonprofit organizations in Indiana and nearly $4.4 million to 43 Arizona nonprofits.

For more information about the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, visit


Media contact:
Teri Walker
Manager of Communications and External Relations
Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust
AZ: 480-887-0083 | IN: 317-231-9207