January 18, 2011; Source: Chicago Tribune | The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced the 11 nonprofit winners of its "Award for Creative and Effective Institutions," – the nonprofit organizational equivalent of the Foundation's so-called "genius" awards to individuals.
The winners, each with budgets of less than $5 million, receive awards of $350,000 to $1 million in recognition of their creative work "deal(ing) with the hardest problems humanity faces," according to MacArthur's president and CEO, Bob Gallucci. The organizations that won all seem eminently worthy, including the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law in Chicago, the Bay Area Video Coalition in San Francisco, and overseas organizations in India and Bhutan.
At NPQ, we have to make special mention of two of the winners. One is the Tax Policy Center of the Urban Institute. We have frequently used and always benefited from the work of the scholars at the center, including Bill Gale and Gene Steuerle.
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The other winner we would particularly like to recognize is the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC). A longtime board member of NPQ, Elena Letona, was the associated director of NALACC and in her capacity there, contributed an article to NPQ's special print and online issue on nonprofit roles in immigrant communities and taped the online introduction to that topic for the NPQ website.
NALACC had previously received support from MacArthur for a study of income transfers from Mexican and Salvadoran immigrants in the U.S. back to their home countries. NALACC's executive director, Oscar Chacon, plans to use the MacArthur award of $35,000 to build a reserve fund for the organization. All of the MacArthur nonprofit winners look like organizational geniuses to us.—Rick Cohen