Piper Charitable Trust COVID-19 Response Grants to Help 26 Performing Arts Organizations

Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust

Greasepaint youth actors perform via livestream in the radio play The Canterville Ghost; the play, based on a story by Oscar Wilde, was also directed by youth. (Photo: Business Wire)

Greasepaint youth actors perform via livestream in the radio play The Canterville Ghost; the play, based on a story by Oscar Wilde, was also directed by youth.

Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust awarded more than $2 million (June 2021) to 26 performing arts organizations. The grants will help strengthen performing arts organizations’ re-emergence following severe disruption caused by the pandemic and provide vitally important access.

Trust founder Virginia Galvin Piper believed arts and culture to be critically important for community health and vitality. As arts and culture organizations begin to reimagine their futures beyond COVID-19, the Trust felt compelled to award grants to performing arts organizations and intentionally awarded grants to some organizations that serve youth/underserved youth and/or have Black, Indigenous, or People of Color-centered missions to help strengthen access to performing arts and culturally specific art forms.

At Piper Trust’s recent Board meeting, Trustees reflected on the virtues of Virginia Galvin Piper. Trustee Laura Grafman shared that over the life of the Trust, Trustees have never lost sight of the promise to Virginia to be “careful, creative, and compassionate” stewards of the philanthropic funds that Mrs. Piper graciously designated for Maricopa County nonprofits.

“We are focused on frequent conversations with our nonprofit partners to hear how their organizations, staffs, and the clients they serve are doing as we move into more encouraging times,” said Mary Jane Rynd, president and CEO of Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust. “Our Trustees remain on the pulse of how the pandemic is specifically affecting the various sectors within the nonprofit community and what we all need to do as we rebuild and reestablish.”

Since spring 2020 when the pandemic began, the Trust has awarded $31,458,000 in COVID response/related grants alone. Piper Trust supported Maricopa County nonprofits with these unrestricted grants giving the organizations discretion and flexibility on the use of the funds.

For many arts and culture organizations, that meant finding new ways to contribute to community health.

“The pandemic has severely compromised the missions of arts organizations,” said Suzanne Wilson, president and CEO of The Phoenix Symphony. “There is a shared value when attending a live performance—art has the ability to heal and unify people,” Wilson said.

Despite the hardships and furloughs musicians have faced, the Symphony continued its tradition of performing in the community and meeting people where they are for an artistic experience. They set up at hospitals to play for healthcare workers during shift changes and at food banks while people access services.

Through the pandemic, Greasepaint Youtheatre creatively found ways to connect with youth actors who thrive on human contact.

“I was extremely worried about our theatre kids being stuck behind screens for everything,” said Maureen Dias-Watson, artistic director at Greasepaint Youtheatre. “We built an outdoor stage and produced 12 full-length plays with small casts and performed to audiences of 40 masked guests in socially-distanced seating. The productions were a life line—for our student actors, the professional technical artists we were able to pay, and for our community to come together and enjoy something beautiful, funny, or poignant during the midst of a horrible year. It felt like hope each time we put on a show.”

From December 2020 through June 2021, Piper Trust awarded $22,239,750 in grants.


Arts and Culture Organizations—Total: $2,066,250

Organizations listed below with youth/underserved youth, and/or Black, Indigenous, People of Color-centered missions received additional funds in their grant awards to support strengthening access to performing arts for youth and to culturally specific art forms.

Arizona Musicfest ($110,000)

Jazz in Arizona, Inc. ($45,000)

Arizona Opera ($130,000)

Mesa Arts Center Foundation ($45,000)

Arizona Theatre Company ($130,000)

Musical Theatre of Anthem ($37,500)

Ballet Arizona ($130,000)

Phoenix Boys Choir ($93,750)

Black Theatre Troupe, Inc. ($67,500)

Phoenix Chamber Music Society ($30,000)

Chandler Cultural Foundation ($90,000)

Phoenix Chorale ($30,000)

Childsplay, Inc. ($137,500)

Phoenix Girls Chorus, Inc. ($56,250)

Del E. Webb Center for the Performing Arts ($75,000)

Phoenix Theatre ($130,000)

East Valley Children’s Theatre ($37,500)

Scottsdale Arts ($137,500)

Fountain Hills Theatre, Inc. ($45,000)

Southwest Shakespeare Company ($45,000)

Greasepaint Youtheatre ($37,500)

The Phoenix Symphony ($137,500)

Herberger Theater Center ($90,000)

Theater Works ($75,000)

iTheatre Collaborative ($30,000)

Valley Youth Theatre ($93,750)

Children/Older Adults/Education/Healthcare and Medical Research/Religious—Total: $5,083,000

Organizations listed below received grants based on their roles ensuring access to basic needs during the pandemic; organizations with an * received early release and/or repurposed ATLAS funds.

About Care, Inc. ($25,000)

Maggie’s Place ($143,000)*

Area Agency on Aging, Region One, Inc. ($50,000)

Mercy Housing Southwest ($50,000)

Association for Supportive Child Care ($556,000)*

Neighbors Who Care, Inc. ($75,000)*

Aster Aging, Inc. ($40,000)

Northwest Valley Connect ($25,000)

AZCEND ($50,000)

NourishPHX ($355,000)*

Beatitudes Campus ($50,000)

One Arizona ($100,000)

Benevilla ($50,000)

one n ten ($73,000)*

Chicanos Por La Causa ($50,000)

Open Hearts ($330,000)*

Chicanos Por La Causa/Keogh Health Connection ($63,000)*

Tanner Community Development Corporation ($30,000)

Duet Partners in Health & Aging ($40,000)

Technical Assistance Partnership of Arizona ($75,000)

Foundation for Senior Living ($50,000)

Tempe Community Action Agency, Inc. ($50,000)

Gabriel’s Angels ($52,000)*

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix ($2,500,000)

Junior Achievement of Arizona, Inc. ($201,000)*


Prior to the need for COVID-related support, Piper Trust had responsive and Trust-initiated grantmaking underway. The following organizations received grants for non-COVID related work.

Responsive Grantmaking: grants that support nonprofit programs, capital campaigns, or capital projects that fit Trust core funding areas.

  • Adelante Healthcare: $650,000 grant to support renovation of a relocated West Phoenix clinic.
  • Center for the Future of Arizona: $100,000 grant supporting analysis and communications for The Gallup Arizona Project.
  • Arizona Autism United: $265,000 grant to expand access to services and coordinated care for children.
  • Valley of the Sun YMCA: $600,000 grant to improve the infrastructure and special population access to Camp Sky-Y.

Trust-Initiated Grantmaking: grants that are unique, often long-term investments, and designed for broad impact. Some of the awarded grants listed below are for Piper Trust capacity-building grants related to the Trust’s AGILE programs or the Good Governance Fund.

  • Creighton University: $10 million grant to establish an endowed chair position and a fellowship in health disparities at the Virginia G. Piper Medical Clinic at Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
  • HonorHealth Foundation: $3 million grant to support multidisciplinary care clinics at the Neuroscience Institute.
  • Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, Inc.: $120,000 grant to support Maricopa County nonprofits’ participation in the Listen4Good cohort.
  • SMU Data Arts: $108,000 grant to support Cultural Data Profile arts and culture data tools and related trainings in Maricopa County.

AGILE grantees are: Arizona State University Arts Museum ($7,500); Ballet Arizona ($10,000); and, Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation ($10,000).

Good Governance Fund grantees, each receiving grants of $15,000, are: Arizona Opera, AZCEND, Family Promise-Greater Phoenix, Friendly House, Inc., Herberger Theater Center, ICAN, New Pathways for Youth, and Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center.

Immediate Community-Need Grantmaking: Trust-initiated grants that respond to a time-sensitive challenge.

Due to extreme heat and its implications on health, the following organizations were awarded $25,000 each to support emergency heat relief efforts: Arizona Faith Network, Human Services Campus, Inc., Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and The Salvation Army.

Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust supports organizations that enrich health, well-being, and opportunity for the people of Maricopa County, Arizona. Since it began awarding grants in 2000, Piper Trust has invested more than $517 million in local nonprofits and programs. Piper Trust grantmaking areas are healthcare and medical research, children, older adults, arts and culture, education, and religious organizations.

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