Once upon a time, the orange-beaked puffin—native to the waters of the Northern United States—was on the verge of extinction. But after concerted efforts by a slew of determined people, the puffin population is again flourishing.
The founders of the Teaneck, New Jersey-based Puffin Foundation see the bird’s resurgence as a metaphor and they have made it their mission to support movements that might otherwise falter. As their website explains, the Foundation strives to “open doors of artistic expression by providing grants to artists and arts organizations that are often excluded from mainstream opportunities due to their race, gender or social philosophy.”
In practical terms, the 37-year-old philanthropy has supported a wide array of visual artists, writers, filmmakers, poets, musicians, journalists, and photographers. Among them are names that are likely familiar to Lilith readers, including Agnes Adler, Alice Matzkin, and Lilly Rivlin. Groups—and media—have also benefitted from the fund’s largesse: The Nation, In These Times, Jewish Currents, Mother Jones, Salon, and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice have received grants.
The Puffin Foundation’s Executive Director, Gladys Miller-Rosenstein, met with Lilith reporter Eleanor J. Bader in mid-May in the group’s spacious award-and-art-filled office.