ShareThis Page
News

Scaife bestows 'game-changing' legacy of giving to region, nation

| Saturday, May 2, 2015, 9:00 p.m.
Michael Gleba (left), president of the Sarah Scaife Foundation, and Matthew Groll, chairman of the Allegheny Foundation, meet in the Scaife Foundations offices Downtown.
Stephanie Strasburg | Trib Total Media
Michael Gleba (left), president of the Sarah Scaife Foundation, and Matthew Groll, chairman of the Allegheny Foundation, meet in the Scaife Foundations offices Downtown.

Two Pittsburgh nonprofit foundations benefited substantially from the will of late Tribune-Review publisher Dick Scaife — one of them jumping to nearly six times its present wealth.

Sarah Scaife Foundation and Alle­gheny Foundation soon will receive $367.5 million each from Scaife, who died July 4. The cash infusions will double the former's assets and transform Allegheny Foundation from a $75 million entity into one worth nearly $443 million.

Public charities and organizations will ultimately benefit, too, as donations from both foundations markedly increase. Federal law requires foundations to donate at least 5 percent of their assets each year.

“This is quite a game-changer,” said Matthew Groll, who became Allegheny Foundation's chairman following Scaife's death. He previously was its executive director.

“For the last five years, we distributed an average of $3 million to $4 million a year, and approximately $100 million since Mr. Scaife established the foundation in 1953,” Groll said. “Those amounts will be eclipsed in short order, as our new distribution requirements increase to more than $20 million annually.”

Sarah Scaife Foundation, named for Scaife's mother, will rise from the region's 12th-largest foundation to its fourth, with $754 million in assets, according to federal tax filings.

“It means more of the same,” said Michael Gleba, who succeeded Scaife as the foundation's chairman and CEO last year after serving as its president. The charitable focus — economic and public policy groups, most with conservative or libertarian views, and foreign policy think tanks — won't change, he said.

“We're not going to grow our staff significantly,” he added. “... We want to control costs because it allows us to give away more money.”

The money comes from four family trusts that Scaife controlled and that were liquidated in preparation for distribution per his will. The most recent accounting puts the total value at $735 million. Scaife's executors notified the state Attorney General's Office of the transfer Feb. 12.

The four trusts are separate from one created for Scaife in 1935 by his mother and now the subject of a court battle pitting his daughter and son against the publisher's close associates, including Tribune-Review board Chairman H. Yale Gutnick.

Focus: International vs. local

Sarah Scaife Foundation's minimum annual giving will increase from about $19 million to nearly $38 million, according to Gleba. Its assets grew by about $40 million when it merged with Carthage Foundation, another Scaife-run entity, on Dec. 31.

The foundation gave $14.7 million in 2013, according to its annual report. The American Enterprise Institute, Center for Strategic and International Studies, and Heritage Foundation — all based in Washington — each received more than $500,000; the University of Kentucky's Albert B. Chandler Hospital Auditorium, Massachusetts-based Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis, and Stanford University's Hoover Institution of War, Revolution and Peace each received at least $500,000.

Other major recipients were Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Federalist Society for Law & Public Policy Studies, George Mason University, Intercollegiate Studies Institute, Media Research Center, Social Philosophy and Policy Foundation, and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

“We want to maintain that sort of focus,” Gleba said.

In contrast, Allegheny Foundation concentrates on regional giving. Its larger recipients have included the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, the Manchester Bidwell Corp. education and job training center in the North Side, the Castle Shannon-based Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese's Extra Mile Foundation — subsidizing operations and scholarships for disadvantaged students in the Hill District and Wilkinsburg — and the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Washington County.

“Dick Scaife represented a lot of different things to a lot of different people,” Groll said. “But I think there is little room to argue his commitment to the region … or his core principles,” which Groll said will guide future giving.

While Scaife funded many traditional charities, such as art museums and theater, “he was squarely in the ‘equal opportunity' camp, not the ‘equal outcome' camp,” Groll said. “So we try to identify and fund programs that encourage individual responsibility and self-reliance.”

Direction important

Gleba said Scaife “was very concerned about the direction (his) foundations would take after he was no longer around.” So, in 2008, both adopted bylaws that “clearly laid out ... principles for giving (and) the qualifications for evaluating” new trustees.

Even so, Gleba said, “maintaining donor intent, especially over the long term, is a challenge” for all foundations.

Some larger family entities, such as Pew Charitable Trusts and Ford Foundation, changed their focus or philosophy as time passed and the personal ties between directors and the late founders faded, he said. Pew Trusts once backed conservative policy groups, for example, but is now a public policy nonprofit.

Gleba said he and Groll are responsible for “ensuring that Dick Scaife's intent is followed. And having worked with him for more than 15 years, I believe we are well-positioned to do so.”

Sarah Scaife Foundation's other eight trustees also have personal or professional connections to Scaife. Almost all of them — former Reagan administration staffers Ken Cribb and Roger Robinson, editor and publisher Roger Kimball, Carnegie Mellon University economist Allan Meltzer, former Heritage Foundation President Edwin J. Feulner, Allegheny County GOP Chairman Jim Roddey, Republican National Committeewoman Christine Toretti, and Jim Walton, Scaife's cousin and close friend — are involved in conservative causes.

The same close connections exist with Allegheny Foundation's trustees: Joanne Beyer, president of Scaife's foundations from the early 1980s until 2002; businesswoman and community volunteer Jane Roesch; Jim Rohr, retired chairman and CEO of PNC Financial Services Group; Doris O'Donnell, a former reporter for The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer and Scaife's first newspaper, the Tribune-Review; and George Weymouth, chairman of the Brandywine Conservancy and Museum of Art in Chadds Ford, Delaware County.

Different paths

Both Gleba, 45, and Groll, 48, began working for Scaife in 1999. But their paths to the foundations' offices high in One Oxford Centre began half a world apart.

Gleba was born to a middle-class family in Forest Hills. The youngest of five children, he began reading the conservative National Review magazine at age 11, along with other newspapers and magazines his parents bought.

He graduated from Carnegie Mellon University — he won a National Merit Scholarship there named for Scaife's uncle, R.K. Mellon — and Duquesne University's School of Law and Donahue Graduate School of Business. He spent most of his life in and around the city, starting his legal career with Pittsburgh-based Kirkpatrick & Lockhart.

An exception was a six-month stint for the Philadelphia-based law firm Morgan Lewis in Indonesia; the assignment was cut short by 1998 riots that deposed President Suharto. Returning home, he began talking with Gutnick, Scaife's longtime lawyer and friend, about leaving his legal practice, which led to his hiring at the foundation.

That job offered a perfect niche for Gleba, who was interested in policy and politics but never wanted the public life of a politician. Scaife's foundations avoided high-profile grants, and Scaife never wanted to have a school or building named for him.

Groll, the son of a U.S. Foreign Service officer, was born in Hong Kong and moved around every three years or so, living in Thailand, Taiwan and France as a child.

He majored in political science and cultural anthropology at the University of New Mexico, then found work with a government security contractor — he declines to say which — in Washington.

Groll's first job with Scaife was in a personal security role. But when Joanne Beyer retired as Allegheny Foundation's president in 2002, Scaife asked Groll to take over.

“We had spent enough time together that he had me figured out,” Groll said.

The offer to run the then-$30 million foundation came without fanfare. As Groll recalls it, Scaife simply said: “What would you think of this?”

Although Groll has lived here longer than anywhere else, he admits that the long histories of the region's families can make a nonnative feel like a newcomer: “I think I'm still transitioning. You're always learning something new.”

Both men expressed discomfort with publicity during interviews. But the sudden increase in the two foundations' wealth likely will make it difficult for them to maintain low profiles, said Peggy Morrison Outon, executive director of the Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management at Robert Morris University.

“It's a big responsibility to have that kind of opportunity,” Outon said. “They are going to have more ‘friends' than anybody ever thought possible.”

However, Outon said, she does not expect the foundations' operating styles to change, even as their grants get larger and more numerous.

“Allegheny and Scaife have been low-profile and fairly quiet, so they probably won't hold a town hall to say, ‘Here's what we've decided.' ”

Groll and Gleba say they have discussed the coming change with some of their bigger beneficiaries — something that evolving foundations often do, Outon said. Both men refrained from definitive statements on what their foundations' gift-giving will look like once they get the money.

Each gave the same answer when asked if they plan to increase the volume or size of grants: “Yes.”

Mike Wereschagin is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7900 or mwereschagin@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me