GCI's chief operating officer could have chosen any of hundreds of deserving American colleges in places where the company does business, including Kentucky's Berea College, which educates poor kids from coal mining communities in Appalachia.
In the end, however, Martore once more told the Gannett Foundation to give $15,000 to Wellesley College, the bluestocking school near Boston where she got her bachelor's degree in history and political science in 1973, newly released public documents show.
Meanwhile, the foundation gave a combined total of only $39,000 in college scholarships to children of GCI's 35,000 employees during the year. These are the Madelyn P. Jennings Scholarships, which provide one-time stipends of $3,000.
The documents show Martore and 16 other current and former Gannett Management Committee members earmarked $255,000 in foundation money for their favored charities in 2009. The giving came under a benefit for only those executives, one allowing them to steer up to $15,000 each to virtually any non-profit in any U.S. community. Through its more restrictive Community Grant Program, the foundation also supports non-profit activities, but only in places where GCI does business.
A list of all gifts
The grants are different from the better-known GannettMatch program, where the foundation matches dollar-for-dollar employee donations of $50 to a maximum $10,000 per year to non-profits. Under the executive grant-making program, the executives are not required to give any money of their own. The foundation's assets comprise investments derived from the occasional sale of Gannett newspapers.
Overall, the foundation spent $4.1 million on grants and scholarships in 2009. That was off sharply from $12.1 million in 2008. However, the $255,000 in executives' grants fell just 15%, from $300,000 in 2008.
Martore's $15,000 for Wellesley brings to
Promoted to chief operating officer in February, Martore has led a multi-year cost-cutting campaign that this year included hundreds of layoffs, plus unpaid furloughs for thousands of other workers. In 2009, in her role as chief financial officer, she got paid $4 million, including a $950,000 cash bonus.
The foundation spending emerged in its 2009 IRS tax report; it was completed just three weeks ago. I obtained a copy from the foundation yesterday, after requesting one under federal open records law.
Who's in charge?
[Updated at 5:42 p.m. ET: The foundation is legally separate from GCI, but it's controlled by company executives. Dubow is its chairman and president. Martore is a vice president. With General Counsel Todd Mayman, they comprise the three-member board of directors. The foundation's executive director is GCI's top publicist, Robin Pence. I believe the foundation has a one-person staff.]
Earlier: As layoffs near, charity that doesn't begin at home
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