Celebrating 50 Years of the ARRL Foundation

[The FEMARA Scholarship is administered by the ARRL Foundation.]

ARRL Foundation 50th Anniversary logo09/22/2023 – Thursday, September 21, 2023, marked 50 years since the ARRL Foundation was formed. As a partner with ARRL, the ARRL Foundation stewards philanthropic support for amateur radio through scholarships, club grants, and other programs to ensure a strong and vibrant future for the avocation.

The total assets of the nonprofit entity measured nearly $8M at its most recent annual audit, but it grew from humble beginnings. In September 1973, several members of the ARRL Board of Directors worked to establish the charity. Larry Shima, W0PAN, was the Director of the ARRL Dakota Division at the time and did a lot of work to get the Foundation started. Shima is very pleased with the Foundation’s success, stating, “We started off with $1,000, and just look at it now!”

Shima says the original intent was to support future generations of radio amateurs. At the time, space and satellite communications were cutting-edge, and they were the focus of ARRL Foundation activities, though scholarships were also high on the list. “I was thrilled when I got the recent issue of QST that had the photos of the scholarship recipients in it. That is exactly what it was intended to do; we wanted to provide scholarships for young people,” he said.

Gifts from generous donors support The ARRL Foundation, but it also works to help other charitable groups extend their reach. In an address to donors delivered over the summer, ARRL Foundation President David Norris, K5UZ, highlighted a recent grant the Foundation received. “The recent support the Foundation has received from Amateur Radio Digital Communications, or ARDC, has been transformational. We have been able to dramatically increase the funding of scholarships through their generosity and are working through a program of club grants, where more than $500,000 was distributed to clubs looking to take on new projects or sustain their organizations – and to share their learning with others,” he told the crowd.

Shima was just 35 when the ARRL Foundation was formed. He is the only surviving founding member of the Foundation Board. Fifty years later, he believes that hams who have done well in life have an obligation to support amateur radio by giving generously to ARRL and the ARRL Foundation. Ongoing financial support enables ARRL to promote and protect amateur radio while our Foundation supports the future generations of hams.

That generous support will have a tangible reach. More than 100 scholarships, ranging from $500 to $25,000, will be awarded in 2024. Thank you to the many donors for making this work possible, and congratulations to the numerous scholarship recipients who have benefited from their generosity.

To learn more about the ARRL Foundation, please visit the Foundation website at http://www.arrl.org/the-arrl-foundation. To learn how to make amateur radio a part of your charitable giving, contact the ARRL Development Office at http://www.arrl.org/contact-us.