The St. Louis-based Danforth Foundation has announced that it will shift its grantmaking focus to plant and life sciences and will cut its staff of eight employees to just two. The layoffs are expected to be completed by June.
The remaining staff of two, which includes foundation president Bruce Anderson and office manager and board secretary Diane Moleski, will be responsible for administering $79 million in grants and projects committed to organizations through 2005. The $79 million is in addition to the $117 million that, earlier this month, the foundation announced it would devote to the region's plant and life sciences development. According to Anderson, who has been president of the foundation since 1990, no new grants will be made until 2005. After the $117 million is awarded, the foundation will have about $75 million in assets, compared with $355 million in assets at the end of 2001. "Going forward," said Anderson, "what's going to be required, obviously, is a much smaller staff."
This is the second time in six years that the foundation, which has seen its endowment decline by some $15 million over the past two years, has changed direction. In 1997, it shifted its grantmaking focus from support for national education reform to community revitalization efforts in St. Louis, and has since committed more than $300 million to regional activities.
The changes at the foundation are similar to those made by the Kansas City-based Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, which cut 46 employees, or 28 percent of its staff, through a voluntary buyout package late last year. According to Kauffman president and chief executive Carl Schramm, the downsizing is part of a plan to make the $1.5 billion foundation a leaner, more focused organization.