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MacArthur keeps grantmaking steady

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Despite a 21 percent drop in its endowment in 2008, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation increased its grantmaking in 2008 and will keep it at that level in 2009, the funder’s president says.

The foundation finished 2008 with assets of about $5.2 billion, down from $6.9 billion in 2007.

The drop is a result of investment losses as well as spending, says Jonathan Fanton, president of the foundation.

Despite the $1.7 billion loss, MacArthur awarded grants totaling $260 million last year, up from $235 million in 2007.

“We did not reduce or cease our support for any project or initiative due to the weak economy,” Fanton says in a statement. “In fact, we began or continued several new initiatives and deepened our work in longstanding fields of interest, such as peace and security, juvenile justice reform and affordable housing preservation.”

During 2008, the foundation launched a $68 billion effort to lessen and prevent foreclosures, increased funding for the arts to $7 million from $5.5 million and created a fund to boost connections between MacArthur grantees and organizations worldwide.

The foundation plans to hold its grantmaking for 2009 to the 2008 level, says Fanton.

“For 30 years, the MacArthur Foundation and our dedicated grantees have been working to build a more just, verdant and peaceful world,” he says. “Despite the downturn in the economy, this important work must continue and it will.”

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