Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, a private foundation that honors the legacy of Virginia Galvin Piper, has achieved a grantmaking milestone by investing more than $400 million in nonprofits and programs since its inception. Piper Trust began awarding grants in 2000 and awards approximately $22 million annually to Maricopa County nonprofits. A grant to The Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix to strengthen Catholic education marks this defining moment in Piper Trust’s history.

Pope John Paul II and Virginia Piper (right), September 1987

“Virginia Piper was deeply spiritual and would be delighted that a $3 million dollar grant to support the new St. John Paul II Catholic High School in Avondale moved the Trust to reach $400 million in grantmaking,” said Mary Jane Rynd, president and CEO, Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust.

In 2014, the 10 largest independent, community, and corporate foundations in Maricopa County invested approximately $163 million in nonprofits and programs. Arizona’s nonprofit sector is a major force in the state’s economy—in 2016 the sector contributed more than $23.5 billion—equal to 7.7 percent of Arizona’s Gross State Product.

“We are so grateful to work in partnership with our nonprofit community. The Trust sincerely thanks the nonprofit leaders and staff for the exceptional contributions they provide every day to enrich quality of life and serve those in need,” said Rynd.

Over the years, Trust support has ranged from modest, yet far-reaching grants, to multi-million dollar investments such as:

• The Piper Trust Back-to-School Grants Program which provides select Maricopa County schools with funding to meet essential clothing needs for vulnerable students. Supporting children’s back-to-school clothing needs can be transformative for students and provides them with a confident beginning to the school year—Piper Trust’s Trustees are dedicated to helping address this fundamental need; the Program has contributed more than $7 million to schools since 2003.

• The Piper Fellows Program—now 17 years strong, supports nonprofit leaders with opportunities to retool and revitalize through self-designed, professional development journeys that include participating in renowned educational programs and in-depth site visits at world-class institutions. To date, 72 Piper Fellows have been named and are part of the enduring “alumni group” that meets monthly to discuss timely issues and collaborate.•
Trust-initiated capacity-building projects that strengthen the effectiveness of organizations through ATLAS— designed to fortify the organizational and operational structures of a nonprofit by equipping them with innovative management tools, and AGILE—designed for mid-sized arts organizations to examine their “capacity + capitalization” so they become more nimble and effectively carry out their missions in any circumstance. To date, 23 nonprofits will complete ATLAS and/or AGILE projects in 2019.

• The Kindergarten Developmental Inventory—initially a taskforce of Arizona Department of Education, Arizona State Board of Education, First Things First, and Piper Trust—the taskforce work led to Arizona becoming part of a national multi-state consortium that established an assessment tool for Arizona kindergarten teachers. Through the assessment, teachers gain an in-depth understanding of the developmental strengths and needs of every child; this new tool gives teachers an informed rationale to adjust teaching strategies to meet or exceed standards across multiple domains of a child’s development. The assessment was implemented in the 2017–18 school year.

Following are grants awarded for the six-month period of January through June 2018 totaling more than $8 million.


Piper Trust’s AGILE Project—the following mid-sized arts organizations were selected for capacity- and capitalization-building grants during this period: Arizona Opera $250,000; Children’s Museum of Phoenix $258,000; Childsplay, Inc. $300,000; i.d.e.a. Museum Board of Directors $240,000.

Arizona Commission on the Arts

Continued support for coordination of the Arizona Cultural Data Project.

$18,750 / 36 months

The Phoenix Symphony

Support new and existing collaborative program efforts.

$1,500,000 / 12 months


A New Leaf

Support acquisition of Phoenix Day.

$150,000 / 12 months

Arizona Helping Hands

Purchase and implement comprehensive business operations software.

$188,500 / 36 months

Housing Authority of Maricopa County

Purchase furnishings and equipment for the Coffelt-Lamoreaux Community Center.

$175,000 / 12 months

Valley of the Sun United Way

Support social profit services provided to vulnerable students during May 2018 teacher walkout.

$30,000 / 6 months


Arizona State University (ASU) Foundation

Support of Social, Economic, and Environmental Resilience Knowledge Exchange project to advance community resilience (recently renamed the Knowledge Exchange for Resilience by ASU).

$500,000 / 10 months

Junior Achievement of Arizona, Inc.

Upgrade technology infrastructure and enhance online training for volunteers.

$300,500 / 12 months

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix

Support construction of new St. John Paul II High School (Capital Campaign).

$3,000,000 / 36 months


Circle the City

Support new integrative health respite program.

$500,000 / 12 months

LifeStream Complete Senior Living, Inc.

Repurpose assisted living location to a Green House model short-term rehabilitation facility.

$524,000 / 24 months


Catholic Charities Community Services

Renovate acquired facility (CARE Partnership) and support expanded services.

$285,000 / 12 months


Piper Fellows are eligible to apply for Piper Fellows Organizational Enhancement Awards of up to $50,000 to support a specific project addressing a major opportunity or challenge facing a Fellow’s organization. A total of $100,000 was awarded during this period to the following two Piper Fellows’ organizations during this reporting period:

Arizona Town Hall (Piper Fellow Tara Jackson)

Develop and implement training and toolkits for Community Town Hall outreach.

$50,000 / 12 months

i.d.e.a. Museum Board of Directors (Piper Fellow Jeffory Morris)

Conduct market research to develop and implement new website.

$50,000 / 12 months

Piper Trust’s Good Governance Fund supports grantees’ efforts to strengthen nonprofit board governance practices and leadership. A total of $165,000 Good Governance grants were awarded during this period to the following 11 organizations: Arts and Culture: Ballet Arizona; Fountain Hills Community Theater, Inc; Phoenix Chorale; Phoenix Conservatory of Music. Children: Arizona Association of Food Banks; Back-To-School Clothing Drive Association; New Pathways for Youth; Valley of the Sun YMCA; West Valley Child Crisis Center, Inc. Older Adults: About Care, Inc.; Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest.