Mason Granger, Hearst Foundations

TITLE: Director of Grants

FUNDING AREAS: Culture, education, health, and social service

CONTACT: mgranger@hearstfdn.org, 212-649-3750

IP TAKE: A former Louisiana broadcasting exec, Granger oversees all grants at the well-endowed Hearst Foundations, funding big projects by big organizations with big effects.

PROFILE: Before Mason Granger became a full-time Hearst philanthropist in 2008, he was a Louisiana Hearst TV news exec with a heart of gold. He'd spent decades in the news broadcasting business, and the Internet swirls with rumors from his broadcasting colleagues that he's a Really Nice Guy. (He always provided helpful feedback to young reporters! Even his rejection letters were friendly!) Granger's TV news abilities proved exceptional following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In addition to keeping New Orleans and surrounding areas abreast of Katrina-related developments, Granger and the regional Hearst TV team raised some $9 million toward reconstruction efforts.

On the Broadcasting & Cable site, Granger explains how he was able to use his broadcasting talents to serve his community during Hurricane Katrina, operating essentially at the intersection of public media and public service:

We won't forget the people in our audience on television and on the Web, around the country and the world, who told us their stories and sought information from us to find family members. They became our huge family, able to touch each other through our auspices.

Never have I felt that our industry was more vital, helpful, or responsive. These recollections are part of each day of my life. Katrina is a visitor who does not depart.

Granger is working for Hearst in New York now, but he still has charitable interests back home; he currently sits on the board of Cafe Reconcile, a hospitality and culinary career development program for young people in New Orleans. What also hasn't changed for Granger since his move to Hearst NYC: his characteristic ability to blend service to his community with a talent for marketing and communications. Granger has big visions, and he's good at making them happen.

At the Hearst Foundations, Granger has oversight over a massive portfolio. Hearst has about $825 million in assets and invests in projects in the diverse and far-ranging areas of culture, education, health, and social service. A semi-representative sampling of what Hearst has funded recently:

  • In culture, $200,000 to the San Francisco Ballet
  • In education, $300,000 to support drawing instruction at Yale's architectural school
  • In health, $200,000 to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, toward the creation of a research hospital
  • In social service, $50,000 to the Salvation Army in Jackson, Mississippi, to support after-school programs for underserved youth

Under Granger's direction, Hearst's funding goes to large organizations (no entity with an operating budget of less than $1 million need apply). Hearst explains that the projects it supports shoud have big impacts or, as its website states, should "primarily serve large demographic and/or geographic constituencies." There are more specific criteria for the various grant areas, and information on how to apply for funding within a particular program area is here.

Would-be Hearst grantees should note that it doesn't provide seed money to start-ups, does not support projects operating outside the United States, and does not give grants for public policy research.