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Conrad Prebys Foundation Announces Nearly $78 Million in Grants

KPBS to receive $8 million gift over five years

Conrad Prebys and Debbie Turner were honored as Visionaries in the KPBS Hall ...

Photo by Spark Photography

Above: Conrad Prebys and Debbie Turner were honored as Visionaries in the KPBS Hall of Fame for the support of MASTERPIECE. Mrs. Audrey S. Geisel was also honored as a Visionary for her longtime support of KPBS' outreach and literacy programs. The late Brad Warner, former program manager, was posthumously inducted with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

San Diego's largest charitable organization Tuesday announced nearly 121 grants totaling $78 million for nonprofit groups, schools and organizations, including a $15 million, five-year donation for the San Diego Symphony and its new "Shell" outdoor concert venue.

The second highest donation, $8 million over five years, was awarded to KPBS.

“KPBS is honored to receive a gift from The Conrad Prebys Foundation. Mr. Prebys was a dear friend of the station and of MASTERPIECE," said Nancy Worlie, the interim general manager at KPBS. "To receive this gift towards our new building, and have his legacy continue throughout our walls and history, is incredibly special to us.”

The Conrad Prebys Foundation's inaugural Grant Cycle Awards went to organizations that "have exhibited an extraordinary level of resilience, innovation and compassion during this very challenging time, and it is these organizations that will heal our community in the months and years to come," said Erin Decker, the foundation's director of grantmaking.

"During his philanthropic years, Conrad experienced so much joy through the act of giving to causes he was passionate about," said foundation board chair Tony Cortes, a longtime friend of the foundation's namesake. "The foundation hopes that these gifts — including the many matching opportunities being funded — will inspire others to feel that same 'jump-up-and-down' joy through giving."

Grants ranged from one-time gifts of $7,500 to the $15 million gift to the San Diego Symphony.

Other grants of $1 million or above include:

• $6.75 million over three years for Scripps Health to build the new hospital tower at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla;

• $6 million for San Diego State University for the college's performing arts second stage theater;

• $5 million over five years for the San Diego Zoo's Children's Zoo;

• $5 million over five years for a major capital project for Sharp Healthcare;

• $3 million over several years to the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute for development of a breakthrough therapy for medulloblastoma and other cancers;

• $2.1 million over three years to Scripps Research for leukemia research and another $1 million to study pathogens in an interconnected world;

• $1.7 million in two grants for Indiana University — Prebys' alma mater;

• $1 million over two years for the San Diego River Park Foundation for a river education center at Grant Park;

• $1 million over two years for Rady Children's Hospital to harness data for pediatric cardiac care; and

• $1 million for the Salk Institute to work with visual function.

Large grantees also include the Mingei International Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Liberty Station for a performing arts center, Boston-area public media station WGBH and Cal State San Marcos, which received $250,000 to build out its Innovation Hub launched last spring.

"We are filled with gratitude by the generosity of this gift from The Conrad Prebys Foundation, an organization that is changing the face of San Diego through its commitment to philanthropy," CSUSM President Ellen Neufeldt said. "Innovation is central to everything we do at CSUSM, and this grant will allow us to build on our efforts to help solve crucial problems for our region's future."

The CSUSM Innovation Hub is a 2,800-square-foot space within the Extended Learning building on campus. Designed to teach students how to be entrepreneurs, innovators and the next generation of leaders, the coronavirus pandemic forced its virtual launch last April.

The grant will be used to outfit the Hub with forward-thinking technology such as virtual reality equipment, 3D printers and scanners, 360-degree cameras and maker space tool kits.

The San Diego Opera received a $350,000 grant from the foundation, which will be the company's season sponsor for its 2021 spring and fall seasons.

"Conrad was a passionate supporter of the arts and a frequent San Diego Opera audience member," said David Bennett, the opera's general director. "His legacy lives on with this gift and we are pleased to name the Conrad Prebys Foundation our season sponsor. This gift enables us to safely share the transformative power of live music with the community he so generously supported and loved."

Prebys, a property developer and philanthropist, was worth an estimated $1 billion when he died in 2016. Prebys gave his all-time largest gift — $100 million — to the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute in June 2015. The institute was renamed the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute.

The foundation has already received letters of intent for its next grant cycle, which will be announced this summer.


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