Who We Are

The Annenberg Foundation is a family foundation established in 1989. The Foundation supports the worldwide community through its grantmaking, technical assistance and direct charitable activities.

Our Story

The Annenberg Foundation is a family foundation founded by Walter H. Annenberg. Serving as Ambassador to the Court of St. James from 1969 to 1974, Ambassador Annenberg enjoyed a distinguished career as a publisher, broadcaster, diplomat and philanthropist. He was President, and subsequently, Chairman of the Board, of Triangle Publications, which included TV Guide and Seventeen magazine, as well as radio and TV stations nationwide.

Leonore and Walter Annenberg

The Annenberg Foundation was established in 1989 with $1.2 billion, one-third of the assets from the sale of Triangle Publications. Ambassador Annenberg founded The Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania in 1958 and The Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California in 1971. In 1983, he established the Washington Program in Communication Policy Studies.

Ambassador Annenberg endowed chairs at more than a dozen colleges; and major gifts to support the arts, presidential libraries, hospitals, orchestras, and museums. He and his wife, Leonore Annenberg, were celebrated art patrons whose collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces was donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

In 1993, the Foundation made a staggering commitment to public education with one of the largest gifts in philanthropic history: the $500 million Annenberg Challenge for School Reform, which worked to revive and inspire public school reform in eighteen sites across the nation. Its funding was spread among cities throughout the U.S. and catalyzed more than $600 million in matching grants. The Annenberg Challenge initiated reform in countless school districts.

Upon Walter H. Annenberg’s death in 2002, Leonore assumed leadership of the Foundation. In March, 2009, Leonore passed away, leaving the foundation’s trusteeship to Wallis Annenberg and three of her children: Lauren Bon, Gregory Annenberg Weingarten and Charles Annenberg Weingarten.

At their direction, the Foundation continues its historic program focus, but is expanding to include environmental stewardship, social justice and animal welfare. Over the past several years, the Foundation has evolved from a traditional grantmaking institution to one that is also directly involved in the community with its unique charitable activities through which large-scale solutions to systemic problems are pursued.

Milestones & Moments

  • 1958

    Walter H. Annenberg makes a $2.65 million gift to the University of Pennsylvania to establish the Annenberg School for Communication. The School combines the disciplines of speech and rhetoric with techniques of modern media and mass communications.

  • 1971

    Ambassador Annenberg commits $8 million to the University of Southern California to create the Annenberg School for Communication, a graduate program concentrating on the technology of communication.

  • 1981

    Ambassador Annenberg commits $150 million to the Center for Public Broadcasting. The grant supports the production and distribution of college-level courses on public television, allowing thousands of viewers to take classes at home and earn credits toward college degrees.

  • 1989

    The Annenberg Foundation begins operations on July 1 with $1.2 billion in assets.

  • 1990

    To focus attention on the needs of historically black colleges, the Annenberg Foundation makes a $50 million challenge gift in what becomes, at the time, the most successful fundraising drive ever by the United Negro College Fund.

  • 1993

    The Annenberg Foundation makes a $25 million grant to Harvard University. The grant will be used for scholarships, seminar programs and renovations to historic Memorial Hall, including the creation of a freshman dining facility named for the Ambassador’s son, Roger Annenberg.

  • 1993

    The Annenberg Foundation makes a historic commitment to public education with the $500 million Annenberg Challenge. The Annenberg Challenge is one of the largest gifts in philanthropic history and works to revive and inspire school reform efforts across the nation. Eighteen locally designed Challenge projects operated in 35 states, funding 2,400 public schools that served more than 1.5 million students and 80,000 teachers.

  • 1993

    The Annenberg Foundation grants $120 million to the University of Pennsylvania. The grant endows the Annenberg School for Communication and creates the Annenberg Public Policy Center, which conducts research and convenes discussions on the critical intersection of media, communication and public policy.

  • 2001

    The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands was founded in 2001 to address important issues facing the nation and the world. Leonore Annenberg allocated a portion of the Trust to build the new 17,000-square-foot Sunnylands Center. The former residence of the Annenbergs and the new Sunnylands Center together comprise The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands, which serves as a sanctuary for generations of high-level national and world leaders seeking the privacy and peace needed to address the most pressing issues of the day.

  • 2002

    The Annenberg Foundation commits $10 million to create the Director’s Endowment Fund at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) to support special exhibitions, art acquisitions and educational opportunities for at-risk children. In recognition of this support LACMA establishes the Wallis Annenberg Directorship at LACMA.

  • 2005

    Created by Lauren Bon and the Metabolic Studio, Not a Cornfield transforms an abandoned rail yard in Downtown Los Angeles into a 32-acre cornfield for one agricultural cycle. The work, Bon’s first metabolic sculpture, begins almost a decade of remediation of this iconic yet neglected site.

  • 2009

    Musée des Arts Décoratifs receives a grant from Gregory Annenberg Weingarten’s GRoW @ Annenberg, enabling the museum to acquire Deuxième Rhinocéros by Francois-Xavier Lalanne. Additional funding by GRoW @ Annenberg supports the creation of educational spaces within the museum.

  • 2005

    A grant by Charles Annenberg Weingarten to USC’s Annenberg School creates the pioneering Charles Annenberg Weingarten Program on Online Communities (APOC), a graduate school program in social media, digital strategy, Internet marketing and online social networking sites. APOC explores the ramifications of world-wide interconnectedness on our sense of “community.”

  • 2009

    The Annenberg Community Beach House opens on April 25, 2009. Major funding from the Annenberg Foundation, at the direction of Wallis Annenberg, paves the way for the restoration and transformation of this five-acre beachfront property on Pacific Coast Highway, in Santa Monica, into a unique community destination that’s open to all.

  • 2009

    The Walter and Leonore Annenberg Center for Information Science and Technology is built with the support of a $25 million grant from Leonore Annenberg and the Annenberg Foundation. Located at the California Institute of Technology, the building is the new green, state-of-the-art home to IST’s interdisciplinary research and instruction, addressing the growth and impact of information as it relates to all scientific and engineering practices.

  • 2009

    The Annenberg Foundation opens the Annenberg Space for Photography, a cultural destination dedicated to exhibiting photography, in Los Angeles.

    Annenberg Space for Photography
  • 2009

    The Annenberg Foundation launches Annenberg Alchemy, a free capacity building and leadership development program designed to assist small to midsized Los Angeles-based nonprofit organizations. In 2012, the Annenberg Foundation begins a collaboration with CNN, providing a customized version of Annenberg Alchemy for the Top 10 CNN Heroes.

  • 2009

    Strawberry Flag, by Lauren Bon and the Metabolic Studio, is a giant living sculpture in the form of an American flag made from reclaimed California strawberries grown in a raised aquaponic structure.

  • 2010

    The Downtown Women’s Center (DWC) unveils its new home in a rehabilitated historic building in downtown Los Angeles. The new building is almost twice the size of DWC’s original facility and includes both residences and an expanded Day Center. In recognition of the grant provided by Wallis Annenberg and the Annenberg Foundation, the residences are named “The Annenberg Foundation Downtown Women’s Center Wallis House.” Wallis House contains 71 private studio apartments with supportive services for tenants.

  • 2010

    In response to a West Virginian community’s concerns about their elementary school’s close proximity to a coal operation, Charles Annenberg Weingarten pledges funding to help pay for the relocation of Marsh Fork Elementary School. The new, state-of-the-art school will be far removed from the mining operation.

  • 2011

    Dog Bless You, a multi-platform community created by Charles Annenberg Weingarten’s explore, begins funding the training of therapy dogs, service dogs, guide dogs and search & rescue dogs for U.S. military veterans in need.

  • 2011

    In 2011, Gregory Annenberg Weingarten initiated a multi-year research program with the Institut Curie, supporting the creation of a laboratory for translational research in pediatric oncology that will work to better understand the origin of neuroblastoma, one of the most common forms of childhood cancer, in order to identify new drugs targeting the tumor cells.

  • 2011

    Lauren Bon and the Metabolic Studio launch a tour of the Liminal Camera; the largest portable camera in America. Built from a 20-foot shipping container in Los Angeles, it is an enormous pinhole camera equipped with a fully functional darkroom – all solar powered. The tour begins in New York on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 and arrives in Washington, DC for Veterans Day, documenting various sites along the east coast that represent tears in the collective cultural fabric.

  • 2011

    A grant from Gregory Annenberg Weingarten allows the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) to digitize, catalog and conserve the more than 3,000 German Expressionist works on paper in its collection, and to publish them in print and online. Additional funding from GRoW @ Annenberg™ supports the first major exhibition devoted to German Expressionism at MoMA since 1957.

  • 2011

    A grant to Polar Bears International kicks off Pearls of the Planet, a live cam project by Charles Annenberg Weingarten’s explore initiative. Pearls of the Planet’s live feeds of wildlife in their habitats are a gateway to nature for viewers and help raise awareness of the work of conservation groups.

    Polar bear
  • 2013

    Lauren Bon and the Metabolic Studio perform an artist action to reconnect Los Angeles to its water supply by walking the entire 240-mile route of the Los Angeles Aqueduct with a team of 100 mules. The one-month meditation is undertaken to commemorate the centenary of the opening of the Los Angeles Aqueduct. This action pays homage to the quiet dignity of the mule and the patient pace of its progress across this epic landscape.

  • 2013

    At the direction of Gregory Annenberg Weingarten, the Annenberg Foundation purchases 24 sacred Native American objects from an auction house in Paris for the sole purpose of returning them to their rightful owners, the Hopi Nation and the San Carlos Apache Nation. (To honor the request by tribal representatives that sacred artifacts not be photographed, the above photograph is of a Hopi vase that is not among the sacred items purchased at auction.)

    Photograph is of a Hopi vase, not used at the auction.
  • 2013

    On February 28, 2013, Los Angeles-area leaders convene to pledge their support for LA n Sync, a new model of public-private collaboration led by the Annenberg Foundation. The groundbreaking partnership brings together the academic, civic, nonprofit, business and philanthropic sectors of Greater Los Angeles to strategically pursue and win major funding opportunities.

    Los Angeles skyline
  • 2013

    The Annenberg Space for Photography Skylight Studios opens to the public on June 29, 2013. Located directly across the park from the Photography Space, Skylight Studios is a 5,000-square-foot multimedia studio and retail gallery. Home to the popular Iris Nights lecture series, Skylight Studios also hosts art installations and other public programming.

    Annenberg Space for Photography Skylight Studios
  • 2013

    The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts (The Wallis) opens its doors to the public in October 2013 with a series of inaugural events. Wallis Annenberg and the Annenberg Foundation provided major funding for the restoration and repurposing of a historic Beverly Hills post office building into The Wallis, a performing arts and cultural facility presenting theater, dance and music.

    The Wallis Center for the Performing Arts outdoor
  • 2014

    In the summer of 2014, faculty and support staff move into the newly-constructed, 88,000-square-foot Wallis Annenberg Hall, part of the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism on the University of Southern California campus. The longest serving member of USC’s Board of Trustees, Wallis Annenberg, through the Annenberg Foundation, donated the funds that made the building possible. Wallis Annenberg Hall is filled with the latest technologies and equipment in collaborative spaces designed to incubate new ideas and promote experimentation.

    Wallis Annenberg Hall at USC
  • 2015

    Building on the success of two previous concert collaborations, the Annenberg Foundation and KCRW create the Sound in Focus summer concert series. Held at Century Park in Century City, the concerts feature performers from diverse music genres and are offered free to the public. Concertgoers also receive exclusive access to the Annenberg Space for Photography and Skylight Studios.

    Sound in Focus Summer Concerts with De La Soul
  • 2016

    In March, the Annenberg Foundation launches AnnenbergTech to harness the power of Los Angeles’ vibrant and growing tech sectors and positively impact diverse communities throughout the region. AnnenbergTech aims to convene, partner with and help activate the Los Angeles tech community, which has given rise to globally recognized companies that want to invest in their community through philanthropic and civic leadership.

    annenberg tech
  • 2017

    Foundation Chairman and CEO Wallis Annenberg unveils a new interactive community space in the heart of L.A.'s Silicon Beach in Playa Vista. The Wallis Annenberg PetSpace is the first destination of its kind with a combined focus on adoption, education, and academic investigation into the origin, evolution, and dynamics of the bond between people and their animals.

  • 2018

    In partnership with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles venture capital and technology leaders, the Annenberg Foundation launched PledgeLA, a first-of-its-kind initiative to promote civic engagement, diversity, and inclusion across L.A.’s booming and dynamic tech sector. PledgeLA signatories made a commitment to track civic participation and diversity data each year, make that data publicly available, and expand engagement with local nonprofits that support diverse talent to better reflect the civic spirit of Los Angeles.

  • 2018

    The Wilshire Boulevard Temple broke ground for a new Rem Koolhaas-designed community center, which will provide the future home of the Wallis Annenberg Center on Purposeful Aging. This cutting-edge center, focused on longevity, will inspire a path toward rewriting preconceptions of older people and aging with programming dedicated to Wellness, Creativity, Tech Exploration, Social Connection, Community Engagement, and Financial Security, and more. The Center is scheduled to open in 2020.

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Our Mission, Values & Vision

The Annenberg Foundation is a family foundation that provides funding and support to nonprofit organizations in the United States and globally. The Foundation and its Board of Directors are also directly involved in the community with innovative projects that further its mission to advance the public well-being through improved communication. The Foundation encourages the development of effective ways to share ideas and knowledge. The Foundation is committed to core values of responsiveness, accessibility, fairness and involvement.

The Foundation believes in funding organizations that have a deep level of community involvement, are led by effective leaders and tackle challenging and timely problems. Specific organizational attributes valued by the Foundation are: visionary leadership, impact, sustainability, innovation, organizational strength, network of partnerships plus the population being served.