2023 Year in Review

MacArthur Foundation
4 min readDec 22, 2023
Collage featuring images of our President, John Palfrey, students in front of a staircase, a man speaking into a microphone, an illustration of a woman holding a key, and animated people of different colors standing under an umbrella.

As we work toward building a more just, verdant and peaceful world, we pause to share what we have learned along the way.

This year, we considered the power and limitations of umbrella terms as personal identifiers, crafted visuals to better explain our grantmaking process, introduced a new group of MacArthur Fellows, and announced an unprecedented investment in local news through Press Forward.

We’re excited to finish the year on such a high note and look forward to what is to come!

Explore a brief year-in-review below and visit our website for more stories, news, and announcements.

In January, Kristen Mack, our Vice President of Communications, Fellows, and Partnerships, shared thinking on umbrella terms, which are intended to be inclusive but often come up short when discussing complex and evolving identities.

Speaking on the importance of inclusive language, she writes, “Language conveys values. Language can be used to either support or challenge the systems we seek to dismantle.”

Read the full Perspective on BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and the Power and Limitations of Umbrella Terms.

We also started the year with our Program Directors’ reflections on community, collaboration, and justice. Across all our areas of work we seek to center individuals and communities who are most impacted by challenges and follow their lead in identifying solutions.

Learn more about each program’s approach to equity in Reflections on Community, Collaboration, and Justice.

In February, our President, John Palfrey, shared how new approaches to funding local journalism can ensure diverse communities get the news that matters to them.

We need more journalists, from more diverse backgrounds, covering every community in the country for our democracy to thrive,” he writes.

Read Inviting in Philanthropy to Strengthen Local News to learn why supporting local news is critical to our future.

In response to June’s Supreme Court Decision on Affirmative Action, our President, John Palfrey, reaffirmed MacArthur’s unwavering commitment to pursuing racial and ethnic equity.

Our Statement in Response to Supreme Court Decision on Affirmative Action addresses how we plan to fight for policies that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of our society.

This summer, to be more transparent about our grantmaking process, Chandra Palmer, our Associate Director of Client Services and Grants Management, shared insights into our project grants process along with a visual explainer.

View the illustrated process and learn more about how we work in An Opportunity for Transparency: Illustrating our Grant Process.

In October, we announced the 2023 MacArthur Fellows, 20 inspiring individuals using creativity, curiosity, and care to build a more just and sustainable future.

These Fellows are rewriting narratives, reshaping their fields, redefining our connections.

Learn more about the Fellows and their work.

Trusted and strong local news is essential for communities and for democracy. In November, our President, John Palfrey, announced a network of local chapters as part of Press Forward, a national initiative to support the revitalization of local news, at the Obama Foundation Democracy Forum.

View the conversation on Democracy’s Immune System, a discussion with media experts and journalists Nancy Gibbs, Sonal Shah and Darryl Holliday in a panel moderated by Judy Woodruff.

Closing the year on a high note, we announced the first set of grants to support pooled and aligned grantmaking for Press Forward, a national coalition of donors catalyzing local news and information for stronger communities.

These grants include funding for infrastructure support and shared services, along with direct support for eight local newsrooms.

Meet the grantees and learn more about our funding priorities.

We’re grateful for 2023’s endeavors and look forward to continuing our work in the new year!



MacArthur Foundation

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