John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, philanthropic institution founded 1978 by John D. MacArthur (1897–1978), owner of a prominent insurance company and other businesses, and his wife Catherine T. MacArthur (1909–81) in order to assist groups and individuals who might make lasting improvements in the human condition. Headquartered in Chicago, it has assets of roughly $5.5 billion. The foundation's Program on Global Security and Sustainability deals largely with international issues; the Program on Human and Community Development focuses mainly on the United States; and the General Program concentrates on public-interest media. The institution is best known for its Fellows Program, which makes the so-called "genius grants"—large five-year awards, given each year to 25 Americans in the arts, social sciences, education, and other fields to promote the development of their creative, intellectual, or professional ideas and projects. In 2006 the foundation initiated a grant program to build and strengthen relatively small nonprofit organizations worldwide that are deemed both creative and effective.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.