As the end of our first full 25 years comes to a close it becomes all of us at the Johnson Scholarship Foundation – Board members, staff and consultants – to count the things for which we are grateful.
Let us start with our founders, Theodore and Vivian Johnson. They have given us the privilege of being in the business of making grants to promising ideas, organizations and people. This is a business that has a unique opportunity to light the way for social progress and to help many people along the way. Our mission is to help disadvantaged people to obtain education and employment and we focus particularly on people with disability, Indigenous Peoples of the USA and Canada and people with social and economic disadvantage. We are grateful for the privilege to pursue this mission and recognize the obligation to safeguard and pass it down to the next generation of Foundation leaders.
We are grateful for the political, social and economic system that made the Foundation possible. The Foundation was funded by the growth and value created by the United Parcel Service and its stock. Our endowment is the fruit of a free enterprise system, operating in a free and democratic society. We are resolutely non-partisan and invite everyone who is unhappy with government or politics to consider the alternatives. Winston Churchill said it best: “Democracy is the worst form of Government except for all the others.” The rule of law, which protects personal freedom and property, is part of our democratic heritage and provides a safe environment for the Foundation to operate freely.
The Foundation depends upon investment returns from the financial markets. These returns have enabled the Foundation to make grants of over $110 million in its first 25 years and still grow its endowment. At the close of 2016, the Foundation has significantly more assets than it was initially given. The financial markets, and our ability to successfully invest in them, are vital to the Foundation’s success over the next 25 years and beyond. These markets, in turn, depend upon creative people and organizations. The wealth that they produce keeps us in business and we are grateful for it.
Most of all we are grateful for our grantees. The Foundation does not make grants to individuals. We deal wholesale; we make grants to organizations that serve individuals. Without these organizations – tribal colleges, universities, private schools and a host of other non-profit organizations – the Foundation could not execute its mission. We seek out excellent organizations with creative ideas and people. Our grants to these organizations are social investments that produce returns of knowledge and personal power. Our role in this partnership is to make grants but it is our grantees who do the work that drives our mission. This is good work and often involves personal sacrifice. We recognize this and we are grateful for it.
To all of our grantees, Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! And most of all, thank you!