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Fannie Mae Foundation Retrenching

Some Grants Being Cut; Ad Campaign Scrapped

By David S. Hilzenrath and Jacqueline Salmon
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, April 22, 2005; Page E01

The Fannie Mae Foundation has scrapped a controversial $40 million ad campaign to educate home buyers, temporarily stopped accepting grant applications and informed some area charities that their grants this year will be reduced.

The foundation, one of the Washington area's largest corporate charities, depends on the federally chartered Fannie Mae for its funding. With Fannie Mae in the midst of an accounting scandal and government investigations, the charity has been bracing for potential reductions from the troubled mortgage giant.

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The foundation's governing board met yesterday to discuss possible cuts, but a spokeswoman said no decisions were made.

Nevertheless, there are signs of retrenchment at the foundation, which gave more than $47 million in grants last year.

The foundation posted a notice on its Web site last month saying it had stopped accepting new grant applications.

It also acknowledged for the first time yesterday that it is scrapping a long-standing campaign to teach people about home-buying and mortgages -- an undertaking that critics said used charitable funds to help promote the company.

Some of the foundation's grant recipients, meanwhile, say they have already been given bad news.

Manna Inc., which builds homes and provides other services for low-income home buyers in the District, was told yesterday that its grant would be reduced by a third, said George K. Rothman, president of the organization. According to the foundation Web site, Manna has been awarded $200,000 this year, down from $300,000 in 2004.

"It's not going to cripple us, it'll just hurt us," Rothman said. "I think we'll be doing less of what we've been doing before or will have to find other ways to fill in the gaps."

Lori Kaplan, executive director of the Latin American Youth Center, said a Fannie Mae Foundation staffer told her last week that while a two-year, $80,000 grant would not be affected, the center might lose much of a separate stipend it receives for youth development and education. That grant has typically ranged from $40,000 to $50,000 annually.

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