M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust

Acknowledging the Impact of COVID-19

The Murdock Trust Annual Report is designed to provide a snapshot of our work, twelve months at a time.  Like most foundations, it takes a bit of time after a year draws to a close to finalize and compile relevant data related to our grantmaking and investments. It has become tradition for us to release our Annual Report in the summer following the year it is meant to capture. 

There is much excitement and joy to share from our 2019 year, including inspiring stories from our grantees and major milestones for the Trust. However, as this report is compiled in spring of 2020, our region and world face an unprecedented challenge brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our 2020 Annual Report will include a detailed account of the Trust’s work in response to this crisis, but we did want to take a brief moment now to acknowledge the challenges our community is currently facing and share our gratitude for the myriad nonprofits who work tirelessly to serve the common good of our region. As we will see in this and future reports, it has been the thoughtful preparation and nimble reaction of these nonprofits that has helped individuals, families and communities across the Pacific Northwest face and navigate the heartbreaking impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To all who give their time, expertise, resources and hard work to serve the common good, we say, “Thank You.”

A Look
Back at
2019

292

Grants Awarded

$67m

Total Granted

$5.8m

to Arts & Culture

$10.2m

to Health

$33.9m

to Human Services

$7.3m

to Scientific Research

$9.7m

to Education

Our Grantees at Work

We are fortunate to partner with nonprofits all across the Pacific Northwest who are working toward the common good. Here are just a handful of our 2019 grantees and a snapshot of the incredible work they are doing in their communities.

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AK
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WA
MT
ID

Anchorage Community Land Trust

ACLT develops healthy and prosperous communities throughout Anchorage, and for the past 15 years, its sole focus has been to revitalize the Mountain View neighborhood, one of the most diverse communities in Anchorage, where 70 percent of residents are people of color and most are low-income earners. Its new Set Up Shop program develops and empowers neighborhood entrepreneurs in low-income areas, and a Trust grant helped hire a loan and technical assistance officer to support the program.

Northwest School for Hearing Impaired Children

Children who are deaf or heard of hearing face distinct barriers on the path to education, and the Northwest School is committed to serving these students and ensuring that deafness is not an obstacle to academic achievement. In addition to its school-age program, the Northwest School also provides early intervention for young children and an outreach program to improve curriculum and support for students in public schools. A Murdock Trust grant supported the addition of a coach in the early intervention program to meet the high demand for these services.

Big Sky Youth Empowerment

Vulnerable teenagers facing significant barriers to success come to Big Sky for a 12-week session that incorporates outdoor adventures with character education, social and life skills training and mentoring. About 130 youth are in the program, and many have experienced abuse or neglect, family trauma, substance abuse or have been in the foster care system. A Murdock grant supported the expansion of Big Sky’s building, which will allow it to serve more vulnerable youth.

Immigrant Refugee and Community Organization

Serving more than 31,000 people each year through 200 programs, IRCO works toward the integration of refugees and immigrants into an inclusive society. IRCO’s Africa House provides culturally and linguistically specific services to African refugee and immigrant families, including early learning, academic support, gang prevention, mentoring, family engagement, and leadership development. The Trust supported the renovation of a new facility to house this growing program.

Nez Perce Tribe

Located in Lapwai, the Nez Perce Tribe works to protect Nez Perce culture, provide services to the Nez Perce people and preserve and maintain their land and water rights. The Tribe lost millions of acres of land to the federal government in the 1800s and has been working to reclaim parcels of land. A Murdock grant supported the purchase of a conservation easement to permanently protect ten acres of land at the head of Wallowa Lake, representing an opportunity for the Tribe to reestablish its physical and cultural connections in that county.

Museum of Idaho

Visitors to the Museum learn about the cultural history of the Intermountain West through its exhibits, collections and educational opportunities. The Museum’s core exhibit is Way Out West, which teaches about the history of Idaho. A Murdock grant helped redesign this exhibit as the Museum’s centerpiece, featuring interactive exhibits with a strong focus on STEM and allowing Idaho’s history to unfold through ten gallery spaces.

Boise State University

A Murdock Trust Partners in Science grant to BSU supports habitat restoration at the Intermountain Bird Observatory, which is working to restore a patch of habitat along the Boise River. A high school science teacher will work alongside a research group of more than 20 BSU faculty and students to conduct an in-depth, pre- and post-restoration insect census to document the success of the rehabilitation.

Rising Stars Therapeutic Riding Center

Rising Stars offers hippotherapy and therapeutic riding to people with physical, intellectual and developmental disabilities. Therapeutic riding is proven to improve mobility and verbal skills, while hippotherapy utilizes a horse’s three-dimensional movements to provide physical, occupational and speech therapy. A Murdock Trust grant supported the construction of an indoor therapeutic riding arena with adjacent therapy rooms, which allows Rising Stars to offer therapeutic services year-round rather than on its current weather-dependent schedule.

Boise Philharmonic Association

Boise Phil, a 78-member professional orchestra, is the oldest performing arts organization in Idaho and performs for more than 50,000 people each year. The organization worked to develop a long-range strategic plan, and the addition of a director of advancement through a Murdock Trust grant will help it reach its goals.

Storyknife Writers Retreat

Storyknife supports women writers by providing residencies at its Alaska retreat campus. A writer’s residency offers uninterrupted time to work, which is especially valuable to women who are mothers or have other employment, as well as the chance to develop a supportive community of fellow women writers. A Trust grant supported the construction of new cabins and a community building at the retreat center.

Anchorage Museum Association

The Anchorage Museum is an important Alaska institution, offering 275,000 square feet of exhibitions, a science discovery center, a planetarium, an arctic studies center and more. Many of the objects in its collection are historic and ethnographic, as well as contemporary craft and art works, focused on Alaskan culture and history. When the Center for Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Social Justice needed a curator, the Trust provided a grant to fund this new position, which is key to opening the Museum’s substantial resources to all Alaskans and interested people around the world.

Southcentral Foundation

The largest Native regional health care corporation in Alaska, Southcentral provides a wide array of health and social services for the about 65,000 Alaska Native and American Indian people in its region. Services include primary, dental, complementary, emergency, immunization and specialty care, behavioral and addiction services and tribal social services. The Trust helped increase Southcentral’s capacity to bring excellent dental care to young patients by hiring an additional staff member for the Alaska Cleft Lip and Palate Clinic.

Rocky Mountain College

Two turtles, the spiny softshell and the snapping turtle, are both listed as a species of concern in Montana due to loss of habitat and changes in hydrology. Through the Murdock Trust Natural Sciences program, researchers at RMC are examining the turtles and their habitat to assess current and future threats to these fauna in the freshwater ecosystem and improve river management.

Montana Nonprofit Association

MNA partners with nonprofit organizations in Montana to provide leadership, offer resources and services and promote a sustainable and influential sector. More than 1,200 nonprofit staff and volunteers, including board members, benefit from MNA’s programs each year, such as leadership development, financial management, fund development and more. A Murdock grant supported the Expanding Nonprofit Leadership program and is MNA’s fifth grant from the Trust.

Camp Mak-A-Dream

More than 8,000 campers and their families stay at Camp Mak-A-Dream each year at one of 15 cancer-related retreats. Camp provides one staff for every three medically supported campers, allowing those with cancer to experience a welcome escape from their battle. A Trust grant supported the addition of two new caregiver retreats, one for relatives of cancer patients and one for healthcare providers, such as physicians and social workers. The retreats offer educational activities and the opportunity for respite and connection with others along the journey.

International Wildlife Film Festival

Filmmakers from around the world submit films to the Festival, which is the longest-running film festival in the world dedicated to showcasing ethical wildlife media. The Festival includes a weeklong collaboration between filmmakers and scientists to address pressing environmental and conservation issues through film. A new artistic director for the annual festival was hired with help from a Murdock Trust grant.

Candlelighters for Children with Cancer

A childhood cancer diagnosis is devastating to families, and it is especially difficult on families in rural and low-income communities, as well as those with language barriers or a lack of support in their community. CCC brings tangible, meaningful relief to families through support programs such as family camp and remembrance picnics, financial support to help relieve the burden of cancer treatment and in-hospital support. A Murdock grant funded the hire of CCC’s first development director to help expand its programming and serve more families.

George Fox University

Through Murdock’s Natural Sciences program, GFU researchers are projecting climate change impacts on western forests with an integrated research and undergraduate training program. Student researchers will study patterns of recruitment across tree species ranges, which have significant implications for the persistence of forests under climate change but whose mechanisms are poorly understood.

Sisters Folk Festival

In addition to its annual nationally recognized folk music festival, SFF partners with the Sisters School District in its art curriculum and puts on community events and programming throughout the year to teach and preserve Americana art. SFF calls the Center for Creativity and Community Music its home, and the Murdock Trust supported the renovation of this building, which houses other arts organizations and artists and eventually a large performance venue.

Friends of Zenger Farm

One of the few remaining working farms within Portland city limits, Zenger Farm is the largest educational farm in the Metro area and is located in the fastest growing, most ethnically diverse and highest poverty area in the county. Zenger Farm collaborates with nonprofits and schools to provide student field trips, food and cooking workshops and CSAs for low-income families. The Trust supported the Farm’s expansion of its afterschool education program, which brings students in once a week to learn about agriculture, gardening, cooking, nutrition and ecology.

Street Youth Ministries

SYM has provided homeless youth services in Seattle for more than 25 years, and its staff builds relationships with youth to support their journey off the streets and toward restoration. Through Murdock’s Vision and Call Internship Program, SYM invites two interns each year to join its work, which increases its capacity and allows its staff to serve more youth. Interns bring fresh perspective and new ideas to SYM’s work, bringing new depth to the organization and encouragement to staff.

Whitman College

The Trust’s grants for new science faculty supplement the start-up costs involved with establishing new faculty positions in the natural sciences at private educational institutions. Whitman College was able to hire a new professor in the Physics Department to add additional expertise to its team of four current physics faculty, and due to the grant support, the college had the freedom to search out the strongest candidate.

San Juan Community Theatre

The largest performing arts organization on San Juan Island, SJCT is a community theater that offers performances, camps, classes and events in two theaters and a studio space. San Juan Island is a popular vacation destination, doubling the small island community in the summer months, and the theater brings the arts to 11,000 patrons each year. A Murdock Trust grant added a development director to the SJCT team.

Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences

Founded in 2005 to address a significant shortage of health care professionals in the Pacific Northwest, the University offers an osteopathic medicine program and educational partnerships with schools of pharmacy, nursing, physical assistance and medical science. More than 600 students have graduated from PNUHS, 75 percent of which practice in the Northwest and nearly half of which serve in rural or medically underserved areas. The Trust funded the build-out of the University’s new facility, which will house offices, laboratories and instructional space.

The work of the Murdock Trust is primarily focused on the future. We seek to help build the capacity of individuals and nonprofits so that they can continue to serve the diverse needs of their community for years and generations to come. 

But, occasionally, we have an opportunity to reflect on the past. 2019 brought to life shining examples of both points in our timeline – the hard work of the past and the great promise of the future.

2019 marked a pair of significant milestones for the Trust. In the first half of our year, we crossed the mark of $1 billion in cumulative grants awarded since opening our doors in 1975. We were fortunate to have this opportunity to look back and reflect on the thousands of organizations we have had the opportunity to partner with and consider their immeasurable impact on individuals, families and communities across the Pacific Northwest.

In the second half of the year, the future once again loomed large on the horizon. We were fortunate to see our Trustees approve $66.3 million in grants to nonprofits throughout the year, the largest single-year of grantmaking by the Trust in our history. This record-breaking year holds great promise as the nonprofits we serve and support embark on ambitious new programs and projects to help serve the diverse needs of our region in innovative and sustainable ways.

This report includes a small handful of examples of the nonprofits and partner groups we are fortunate to collaborate with and support as they serve the common good of the Pacific Northwest. We remain grateful to these groups and the countless more who are helping ensure every individual, family and community has the opportunity to flourish and thrive.

Steven G.W. Moore
Executive Director

From the Executive Director

Changing Faces in 2019

Kimberly Thornbury
Kimberly Thornbury joined the Trust as our new senior program director for enrichment initiatives following an illustrious career in higher education.
Jeremy White
Jeremy White moved from his role in community building and engagement in Washington, DC, to join the Trust as a program director.
Francesca Cruz
Francesca Cruz stepped into the role of the Trust’s full-time receptionist and administrative assistant.
John Jokela
John Jokela began overseeing the Trust’s financial reporting and operations as our new senior accountant.
Amy Winegardner
Amy Winegardner joined the Trust as our first events and hospitality coordinator.
Sarah Ruckle
Sarah Ruckle joined the Trust as our two Oregon Fellows for the 2019-20 academic year.
Brett Martin
Brett Martin joined the Trust as our two Oregon Fellows for the 2019-20 academic year.
Jordan Skornik
Jordan Skornik began supporting Trust activities as our latest research fellow.
Terry Stokesbary
Terry Stokesbary completed more than 22 years of service to the Trust, retiring from his role as senior program director for enrichment initiatives.
Karen deRenne
Karen deRenne said farewell to the Trust after eight years serving as our senior accountant.

Enrichment

I’m young, scrappy and hungry
And I’m not throwing away my shot!

Hamilton The Musical

Once a year, Trust staff have the opportunity to travel to one of the communities we serve and meet with grantees in person. For our team, it is a valuable opportunity to see the impact of our investments over time, while also helping build relationships with the organizations we support and showing the work that remains to be done.

In 2019, our organization was fortunate to visit Washington D.C. to meet with some of the national groups we support in their work that focuses on the Pacific Northwest, as well as some of our local elected leaders. Throughout the run up to this trip and our days in our Nation’s Capital, we had the opportunity to reflect on the foundations of our government and our country. The leaders over generations, like Alexander Hamilton as detailed in the hit musical Hamilton, but also George Washington, Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King, Jr., and so many others, have rarely been born into the spotlight. In their time, they were born into circumstance to which many of us can relate, yet their desire to serve led them to greatness and helped them create immeasurable impact.

Throughout our Enrichment programs, we often have the opportunity to meet dozens of leaders who have the ability to deliver the type of generational change as we have seen from a Hamilton or an Anthony or even our own benefactor, Jack Murdock. Individuals who are helping nurture and grow a nonprofit that may help break the cycle of poverty for vulnerable families. Educators helping inspire the next generation of STEM researchers. We cannot even begin to guess about the limits of their potential.

Across the eight Murdock Trust enrichment programs, we urge our participants to not waste their shot at creating lasting, long-term change to help serve and support the common good.

Terry Stokesbary

Thank you, Terry

2019 marked a bittersweet moment for the entire Trust family. Following more than two decades of service to the Pacific Northwest, Terry Stokesbary stepped down from his role as Senior Program Director for Enrichment Initiatives. 

Few people better embody the spirit of Jack Murdock and the Mission of the Trust as Terry who met with thousands of organizations and supported tens-of-thousands of individuals through his work overseeing grant applications and Enrichment programming. His boundless energy, enthusiasm and passion for serving others brought an electricity to our offices that will be greatly missed.

Our undying thanks and gratitude go to Terry and his family for their commitment to serving the common good and the immeasurable positive impact they have had on communities across our region.

Thank you Terry!

“I have yet to meet a more supportive, encouraging person than Terry Stokesberry. When I became President at All God’s Children International, he was so intentional in his support and dedication to helping me succeed. Terry exudes positivity and love for all those around him and I am beyond grateful to call him a friend.”

– Hollen Frazier, All God’s Children

“Terry is the epitome of a true servant leader.  Terry’s vast knowledge about nonprofits, finances, business planning and his knack for choosing the right music video to illustrate his point made him a true legend in Idaho among our nonprofit friends.  Terry is one of the kindest, most caring people and an exceptional communicator.”

– Amy Little, Idaho Nonprofit Center

“As a life-long friend of Terry’s, it has been a privilege to observe his unwavering commitment to the Trust, its principles, and mission.  During his many years of service, Stokes was an exemplary servant-leader, while showing great vision, creativity, and determination; the results of which will continue to have far-reaching impact for years to come.”

– Brad Jackson, UW (retired)

“Terry has this unique combination of incredibly youthful energy and a significant life experience. His best days are still ahead of him and I am excited to see what it is he chooses to say ‘yes’ to.”

– John Priddy, Windrider

“Some of my favorite stories with Terry are real serious, one-on-one conversations where we are trying to think of the very best way to get at an issue. Almost always, Terry will have a face or a name in mind that helps frame that issue. All of us have very funny memories of Terry. He’s a very funny guy. But the reality is, what’s behind that humor is a deep desire to see life and to see life-giving things happening.”

– Steve Moore, Murdock Trust

2019 Milestones

$1 Billion Granted

The Spring 2019 Murdock Trust Grants Meeting will forever carry a special place in our history as Trustees approved our one billionth dollar granted since opening in 1975. Throughout the summer, we had the opportunity to connect with and celebrate the thousands of nonprofit partners whose work made this possible and allowed us to reflect on what the future and “the next billion” has in store.

Record Year of Giving

In our 2017 Annual Report, Trust Staff had the opportunity to reflect on a significant milestone as we celebrated our single largest year of grantmaking to date. Just two years later, and we are grateful to say that this record has already fallen. Thanks to the outstanding work of nonprofits across the Pacific Northwest, the Trust was able to award a new record in giving, approving more than $66 million in capacity building grants.

New Look

In an effort to continue refining our approach to grantmaking and improve the experience for our applicants, the Trust embarked on a careful process to update our website. Our goal was to streamline our online presence to make it easier for organizations to find helpful resources as well as more easily share stories of the amazing work of our grantees. Supported by our outstanding partner, Serenity Studios, the new look of the Murdock Trust debuted just before the year came to a close.

From the Chief Investment Officer

2019 by all accounts was a successful year amidst continued transition and preparations for what we had anticipated as a coming recession. Like 2018, the Trust’s portfolio experienced positive performance due to several factors. First, amidst a challenging political and capital market environment, growth was attributed to capital markets hitting on all cylinders despite an increasing awareness of potential economic pain to come. Both credit and equity asset class strategies provided rare positive return performances simultaneously, seemingly as a response to the meltdown in the fourth quarter of 2018. Second, the Trust’s portfolio also owed its positive performance to the long-term perspective undertaken with alternative investments. Alongside the equity and credit asset classes, our alternative strategies turned in rewarding performances despite the decision to invest in them occurring long before the beginning of the year. Deploying capital in alternatives takes a considerable amount of time and effort before any expected potential realization. Last year’s realizations were a function (and a result) of some of those historical decisions.

We also owe credit to our investment managers. We take solace in our trusted relationship with these partners, and through the years, we have benefitted from their discipline to stick to their strategies, be highly selective in their selections, and be patient with respect to protecting our assets over the long term. We have not only been able to grow our assets (secondary objective) and grantmaking capacity, but also preserve the real value of our original assets (our primary objective). We are grateful for each of our investment managers and their positive and significant impact on our grantee partners.

Amidst a healthy 2019, we began the process of assessing what the Trust’s portfolio would look like if it went through a market decline. Fourth quarter of 2018 was, in our a view, a warning shot across the bow to prepare for the coming blizzard (to take a term from one of our grantee partners) and how to sustain through the potential ice age that subsequently comes with it. While our portfolio is geared with a long-term horizon and a belief that we are built to withstand the cycles of the financial markets, we still examined areas where we were exposed, opportunities for further risk mitigation, and opportunities for growth. We are excited to pivot the portfolio toward a more defensive posture. 

As a result, our decisions made in conjunction with our Trustees continue to reinforce the Trust’s portfolio construction and provide affirmation for the portfolio’s ability to weather turbulent periods. 

Elmer Huh
Chief Investment Officer

Total Assets, Grants Approved, & Grants Paid

Hover over the graph for more information.

Risk Allocation

The Murdock Trust divides all potential investments into either low, medium or high “risk buckets” and considers all types of investment products — without preconceived ideas or built-in biases — for all three categories. Our investment objectives follow directly from this “three-bucket” allocation strategy. For more information on this strategy, click here

Target Allocation

Actual Allocation

Risk Bucket 1

low Risk

Investments
  • Cash & Alternative Cash
  • Fixed Income Relative Value
  • Long U.S. Treasuries

Risk Bucket 2

medium Risk

Investments
  • Public Equity
  • Private Debt & Mezzanine
  • Real Estate & Infrastructure

Risk Bucket 3

high Risk

Investments
  • Private Equity
  • Distressed Debt
  • Venture Capital

Meet Jack Murdock

Our benefactor, Melvin J. “Jack” Murdock, was an avid learner, innovator and entrepreneur with business interests throughout the Pacific Northwest. At a young age, he established his own business selling and servicing radios and electrical appliances, and there he began working with Howard Vollum, with whom he developed the oscilloscope and co-founded Tektronix, including operating a Piper Aircraft distributorship for the Pacific Northwest, based in Vancouver, Washington.

He also established his own foundation, the Millicent Foundation (named for his mother), which was his personal vehicle of giving in the region. His practice of philanthropy lives on today in the form of the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, established from his estate in 1975, and we’re proud to carry on the spirit of Jack’s life well-lived through the work of the Trust that bears his name.

To learn more about Jack, click here ›

Our Mission

To serve individuals, families and communities across the Pacific Northwest by providing grants and enrichment programs to organizations that strengthen the region’s educational, social, spiritual and cultural base in creative and sustainable ways.

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