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.
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.