President’s Letter

Art Institute of Chicago ▲

President’s Letter
from 2023 Annual Report

The past year was extraordinary—for both The Brinson Foundation and, we believe, important new prospects for discovery and innovation. In late 2023, the Foundation made a $100 million gift to establish the Brinson Exploration Hub, a model designed to capitalize on the deep relationship between the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which Caltech manages for NASA.

This long-researched, one-time Legacy Grant flowed from the proceeds of Gary Brinson’s mature estate planning vehicle and represents an intentional extension of the Foundation’s scientific research grantmaking. The Brinson Exploration Hub will leverage Caltech’s and JPL’s combined talents along with ideas from their existing think tanks. We have heard from several of our grantees about the critical need for dedicated support for emerging and innovative technology development that could revolutionize our capacity to observe and study the universe. This is what we hope the Brinson Exploration Hub will accomplish. While the Foundation will not be involved in the daily administration of the Brinson Hub, we are excited to watch as it empowers collaborators to explore new scientific frontiers by accelerating the maturation and implementation of multiple projects at any given time—supporting research that is groundbreaking and quite literally out of this world.

While the Brinson Hub is certainly an exciting new venture, the Foundation’s corpus has grown noticeably as the recipient of the remaining contribution of the matured unitrust. With its increased size, the Foundation will maintain its steadfast and continued support in the areas of education and scientific research. As ever, 2023 was a year in which The Brinson Foundation provided a broad spectrum of grants intended to help people reach their full potential through quality education programs, projects, and cooperative efforts. We also expanded our Brinson Prize Fellowship postdoctoral program in collaboration with NASA’s Space Telescope Science Institute, designed to support the creative work of ambitious early-career observational cosmologists.

We recognize that our intentions to move forward in these fields only come to fruition through the ongoing, admirable work of the many nonprofit organizations the Foundation supports. Across our education focus areas, we are exploring new ways to further the goals we share with our grantees, coalescing insights from across the domains of education research, practice, policy, and design. Along these lines, we aim to apply what we are learning about our most pressing challenges, especially in the Chicago region, and most promising practices, wherever they might originate, in order to make more of our collective capacity to strengthen vital work in the field of education.

With deep appreciation for our grantees and colleagues everywhere, we conclude one year and embark on the next, energized. On behalf of The Brinson Foundation, I would like to express how humbled and enthusiastic we are about the part we can play in supporting the work of so many organizations who are actively benefitting learners, seekers, and a society made richer and stronger by their achievements.

Christy Uchida