Ligia Cravo, Hearst Foundations

TITLE: Senior Program Officer, New York

FUNDING AREAS: Education, health, culture, social services

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PROFILE: Like most funders, the Hearst Foundations support only a fraction of the grant proposals received, with the majority going to previous grantees. However, this leaves the door open for new proposals, and Ligia Cravo, a senior program officer at Hearst, is always open to funding new organizations that offer cutting-edge programs and projects.

Just ask the heads of the Mobile Symphony Organization in Mobile, Alabama, or the Rotunda Gallery in Brooklyn, New York. Both organizations received Hearst Foundation support for their arts education programs. In a recent year, Hearst awarded more than $11 million in arts-related grants, with much of the funding going to nationally established organizations such as the Lincoln Center, the Monterey Jazz Festival, and the National Gallery of Art. The Mobile Symphony, however, received $40,000 to support and expand its music education outreach. According to Cravo, the fact that the foundation awarded to grant to the symphony as a new recipient during sluggish economic times speaks well of the quality of its programs.

As for the Rotunda Gallery, which received $50,000 from Hearst for its teacher training workshops and in-school “Mini-Museums,” which introduce Brooklyn school children to contemporary art, Cravo called the gallery an organization that makes art come alive for public school students and that works well with local artists.

Stories such as those of Rotunda Gallery and the Mobile Symphony suggest that Cravo is the kind of funder looking for ideas that will stand out among the crowd of programs and projects­—the kinds of ideas that make a program officer think, “Aha! This organization is on to something new and different.”

That those ideas should be sustainable beyond the grant period goes without saying. They should make also make a lasting impression on the intended audiences. Arts and education programs should, for example, make a lasting impression on young people, stimulating a deep interest in art and music or providing students with the skills needed for success in a global society.

A part of the grantmaking team at Hearst since 1996, Cravo helps make funding recommendations across the foundations’ four main funding areas, which in addition to arts and culture include education, health, and social services. The Hearst Foundations have assets of more than $750 million and are national, independent philanthropies that operate separately from the Hearst Corporation. The foundations have headquarters in New York City and an office in San Francisco.

Cravo serves on the Leadership Council of the New York Foundation for the Arts and is a member of the Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP) Aging Advisory Committee. She is a former Vice-Chair of HIP’s Board of Trustees and a former Chair of its National Funders’ Collaborative for Strong Latino Communities. She also has served on the Boards of the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Women & Philanthropy, and the Center for Economic and Social Rights. She is also a former member of Philanthropy New York’s (formerly the New York Regional Association of Grantmakers’) Committee to Increase and Diversify Philanthropy, and of the Membership Committee of the Neighborhood Funders Group.

Cravo received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Mills College in 1986 and a Master of Science in social work administration from Columbia in 1991. She is fluent in Portuguese and has a working knowledge of French and Spanish. Prior to joining the Hearst Foundations, she worked with several nonprofit and philanthropic institutions, including Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the American Express Foundation.