President’s Letter

Art Institute of Chicago ▲

President’s Letter
from 2022 Annual Report

This past year, the Foundation was pleased to be able to continue expanding the Brinson Prize Fellowship initiative. The Fellowship program offers a space for astrophysicists and cosmologists to chase bold ideas with creative, nimble, and innovative research. Motivated by our founder Gary Brinson, the first three cohorts of Brinson Prize Fellowships intentionally spanned a diverse range of astronomy and cosmology subfields and host institutions to optimize the potential for discovery.

Notably, in 2022, the Foundation initiated a collaboration with NASA’s Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), which, among other science and mission operations, administers the distinguished NASA Hubble Fellowship Program. Whereas the Hubble Fellowship Program awards in five scientific categories, this new Brinson Prize Fellowship program focuses on one of those, significantly increasing opportunities in the subfield of observational cosmology. In the first year of this partnership, Caltech, Princeton, Stanford, and the University of Chicago were selected as possible host institutions, and all participated in the candidate review process that STScI helped administer. Three Brinson Prize Fellows will begin their positions in fall 2023, bringing the total to twelve early career scientists placed at institutions across the country. We look forward to including more information on this exciting fellowship initiative in next year’s Annual Report.

The Foundation recently welcomed two new staff members. Michael Barber, with a Ph.D. in learning sciences and over two decades of experience in educational research, policy, and practice, is now overseeing the Foundation’s education grantmaking, and Jessica Matta, a former classroom teacher and certified public accountant, is the Foundation’s Grants Manager and Executive Assistant. Both bring expertise that I anticipate will enhance existing relationships with our grantees and the communities in which we serve.

Over the past few years, the nonprofit sector has been buffeted by the pandemic and other societal challenges. As a result, staffing and retention continues to be an obstacle for many of our grantees, especially in essential fields such as teaching and nursing. Nonprofits have been especially hit hard by inflation, as their budgets are often disproportionately driven by salaries. To help address this challenge, the Foundation’s Board approved selected increases of $5,000 toward the end of 2022 to bolster grantees grappling with inflation and will evaluate if similar increases might be warranted for others in 2023.

The Foundation aims to be a steadying force in this turbulent time. We are open to input from our communities about ways to be supportive, as we recognize they are best positioned to define and solve their own problems. We continue to be grateful for the opportunity to support those who are positively contributing to society.

Christy Uchida