Twice each year, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation awards hundreds of thousands of dollars to non-profits in the five Pacific Northwest states, including several in Idaho.
2010 marks the foundation's 20th year and Vice President Sue Coliton Senior Program Officer Jim McDonald discussed just how much the foundation has awarded during those two decades.
"Since inception, we've given out about $400 million to non-profit organizations across the five-state region. Specifically in Idaho, we've given $3.55 million," Coliton said. It's a total that's funded 72 grants.
Of those, 42 percent has gone to art and culture, about 36 percent has gone to health and human services and the remainder has gone to education, library and science projects. Boise Art Museum, Boise Contemporary Theater, Company of Fools, Idaho Shakespeare Festival, The Cabin and the Sun Valley Center for the Arts have all received art grants ranging from $5,000 to Company of Fools for a production of Chekov's Uncle Vanya, to $150,000 to BAM for a three-year programming plan. But the largest single grant from the foundation was $230,000 to the Idaho Food Bank, which will use the money to update its inventory management system.
"It's part of a category we established during the recession, called 'Economic Relief,'" Coliton explained. "It's really focused on providing funding to organizations that are serving people who are really being impacted by the recession, who are unemployed, out of work and really facing challenges."
McDonald, who joined the foundation about a year ago, wanted to know more about the arts organizations the foundation would be funding, so he visited the organizations that received grants.
"When I got to Ketchum, Company of Fools was starting the first production of their season, which was The 39 Steps. It was one of the few chances that I got to see exactly what we're supporting."
McDonald then came to Boise and met with ISF, BAM, BCT, Opera Idaho and The Cabin. He was impressed with the collaborative nature of these organizations.
"In the fall of 2009, we awarded $75,000 to Idaho Shakespeare, but it was for a project between BCT and Idaho Shakespeare ... to help BCT go web-based with their behind-the-house work (IT, box office)," McDonald said. "In Hailey, when they heard I was going to see Mark [Hofflund] at Shakespeare, they said to say hi to him. [In Idaho] it's all quality work and great people."