Scores of private charitable foundations, set up by some of the nation’s wealthiest people, received money from the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program, which was created last spring to save jobs at small businesses as the coronavirus tanked the economy.
NPR has identified at least 120 foundations that collectively received more than $7.5 million in PPP funding. That’s a small slice of the overall program, which disbursed about a half-trillion dollars, but some of the foundations are linked to individuals of considerable means: an oil magnate, a cable television tycoon, a dermatologist called the father of modern hair transplantation, and an aviation entrepreneur who founded companies with annual sales of more than a billion dollars.
Recipients also include the Walt Disney Family Foundation, the foundation of late celebrity photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and a foundation affiliated with multibillionaire investor Warren Buffett.
Private foundations appear to have been eligible for PPP funding because many of them have employees, and the program’s purpose was to protect jobs. But some nonprofit experts questioned the public perception of monied foundations, which have tax-exempt nonprofit status, being subsidized by U.S. taxpayers when they could have tapped their own assets to cover expenses.