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Posted at 12:01 AM ET, 02/28/2013

MacArthur Foundation awards millions to 13 organizations for ‘creativity and effectiveness’


A handout photo of the StoryCorps trailer provided by the MacArthur Foundation. StoryCorps is among 13 nonprofit organizations receiving the foundation’s Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. (Courtesy of the MacArthur Foundation)

Thirteen nonprofit organizations had between $500,000 and $1.5 million more in their coffers Thursday after the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced recipients of its Award for Creative and Effective Institutions.

The award, first given out in 2006, was established to “recognize exceptional grantees” to help “ensure their long-term sustainability.”

Among the recipients is the Washington, D.C.-based Henry L. Stimson Center, a nonpartisan think tank that focuses on developing bipartisan support for environmental and security solutions. In a statement Thursday, Stimson Center Board Chairman Lincoln Bloomfield thanked MacArthur for the $1 million award saying, “We will be able to attract more great talent and do more to advance innovative solutions that are based on pragmatic ideas rather than partisan ideology.”

The nonprofit media company American Documentary also received a $1 million award. The organization produces the independent documentary series “POV,” among other projects.

“Naturally, we are thrilled, surprised and humbled,” said American Documentary Executive Director Simon Kilmurry, “To have our work affirmed in this way speaks to the continued and increasing relevance of documentary films in the culture.”

The award, according to Kilmurry, increases American Documentary’s cash reserve by 130 percent.

The popular story-collection project, StoryCorps, received a $1 million award from MacArthur.

“In our 9 1/2 years of existence we’ve been obsessed with organizational excellence,” said StoryCorps founder and 2000 MacArthur fellow Dave Isay via a release Thursday. “To be recognized as one of the most effective non-profits in the world is one of the greatest honors I can imagine.”

The organization plans to use the grant to improve and grow its technological infrastructure, launching on a five-year plan to make their library of stories publicly available.

The Children and Family Justice Center at the Northwestern School of Law received $750,000. The organization advocates on behalf of young people affected by the juvenile justice system.

A $1 million award went to Family Care International, which assists women worldwide in an effort to increase the safety of childbirth. “Having the MacArthur Award gives us a level of security and comfort that is really important to our ongoing work,”said Ann Starrs, the organization’s president during an undated interview with the foundation.

International Rivers in Berkeley, Calif., received $750,000 toward its work to combat the construction of dams in conservation areas, as well as crafting alternative plans to meet energy and water needs.

Other recipients include the Cofan Survival Fund, based in Quito, Ecuador. The organization, which works with the indigenous Cofan people to protect their homelands, rainforest and, ultimately, their way of life, received a $500,000 award.


A handout photo provided to the MacArthur Foundation by the Fundación para la Sobrevivencia del Pueblo Cofán, or Cofan Survival Fund. The fund received a $500,000 Award from the MacArthur Foundation. (Courtesy of the MacArthur Foundation)

“The place where it’s really going to make a difference for us is to be able to strengthen [Cofan Survival Fund] to be able to do the job of going out there and keeping this rainforest intact,” said Randy Borman, founder and executive director of the COFAN Survival Fund, during an undated video interview posted by MacArthur.

The amount awarded was determined by each organization’s operating budget. Groups with a budget ranging between $500,000 and $1 million received a $500,000 award, while those with an operating budgets between $1 million and $2 million received $750,000. Most of the recipients fell into that category. Organizations with a budget between $10 million and $20 million received a $1.5 million award — the amount received by Boston-based Housing Partnership Network.The organization, a collaborative of over 100 nonprofits dedicated to housing and community development, received the most money of the 13 recipients.

The Socio Legal Information Centre in New Delhi, India; the Tobin Project in Cambridge, Mass., and Ushahidi in Nairobi, Kenya, all received a $750,000 award.

The center provides free legal help to India’s marginalized populations, while the Tobin Project connects social science scholars and policymakers to conduct research around the nation’s long-term challenges and problems.

Ushahidi is a technology nonprofit that develops open-source software to promote human rights.

Mexico City-based Sin Fronteras IAP, dedicated to protecting the human rights of migrants in Mexico, received $500,000.

The Creative and Effective Institutions Award differs from the MacArthur Fellowships — widely referred to as the “genius” grant — in a few ways. The fellows grant established in 1981 is generally given to individuals who have never worked with the foundation before. The Awards for Creative and Effective Institutions, on the other hand, are given to organizations MacArthur has previously supported, said a spokesman Wednesday. And, in case you’re wondering, no, nominations are not accepted.

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By  |  12:01 AM ET, 02/28/2013

 
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