The Peyton Anderson Foundation of Macon is the result of one man’s determination to repay his community for the success he achieved during his lifetime. Peyton Anderson grew up in the newspaper business and was the owner and publisher of the Macon Telegraph and News from 1951 to 1969. When he died in 1988, the bulk of his fortune was left to form the Peyton Anderson Foundation.
Juanita Jordan was named the director of the foundation, and the original trustees were Ed Sell Jr., John Comer, Ed Sell III, and Evelyn Matthews Anderson. Anderson set up two requirements for the disbursement of the foundation’s funds: recipients must be 501(c)(3) organizations (that is, tax-exempt, charitable, nonpolitical organizations) and the money must be used for the benefit of Macon and middle Georgia. Because Anderson had always preferred to contribute seed money rather than funds for ongoing operational costs, the trustees tried to choose causes that would make a lasting difference.
The original endowment was approximately $35 million. Since the foundation has been in existence, it has given an estimated $40 million to local organizations. In 2004 the fund reportedly contained more than $75 million, a tribute to the careful investment and management exercised by the board of trustees.
The grants made by the Peyton Anderson Foundation have been diverse and have had a lasting impact on middle Georgia and the city of Macon. In such cases as NewTown Macon and the Peyton Anderson Community Services Building, the foundation was actually the driving force behind the projects. Among the most significant grants to date are $3 million to NewTown Macon for the renovation and revitalization of the downtown area, and $2.5 million to the Tubman African American Museum. Other substantial grants have been made to the United Way (for the Peyton Anderson Community Services Building); Mercer University (for the Convocation Center); the Medcen Foundation (for a health education center); the Museum of Arts and Sciences; Macon State College (for the endowment of two faculty chairs); and the Salvation Army (for the construction of several centers).
Throughout his life Anderson was quick to tell people,”You made your money in Macon; you should spend your money in Macon.” Through his foundation, Anderson’s money continues to be spent in Macon, thereby improving the lives of all the citizens of middle Georgia.