Many of the wealthiest people in the world have dedicated a portion of their fortunes to philanthropy and projects that give back to their communities. Throughout America’s industrial and business history, business leaders have worked to create opportunities to make the world a little better. Some prominent wealthy entrepreneurs have created philanthropic foundations to help support different aspects of life. Here are some of the top foundations in the United States that are helping people live better lives.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
The most famous charitable organization founded by a wealthy businessman is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. After earning billions from Microsoft, Bill Gates established this foundation in 2000 with his wife. The couple donates their own money to the foundation each year. To date, they have donated approximately $38 billion to their foundation. This organization provides financial support to a variety of issues facing developing countries, such as infectious disease control, reproductive health, basic nutrition, agricultural development, and financial management.
The Rockefeller Foundation
Oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller created his family foundation in 1913 in New York City. Rockefeller wanted his vast fortune to help the world become a better place. Since the foundation’s beginnings, it has supported many different projects in the United States and the developing world. The organization helped develop a successful vaccine for yellow fever, worked to eradicate hookworm disease in Mexico, rescued Jewish academics from Nazi Germany, and awarded thousands of fellowships to scholars from around the world.
In 1936, Henry and Edsel Ford started their own charitable organization, the Ford Foundation. In the early years, the foundation focused primarily on supporting local organizations, such as the Henry Ford Museum and the Henry Ford Hospital. Over time, it expanded to help with other projects outside of Michigan. The Ford Foundation helped fund the developments in in-vitro fertilization in the 1970s. It has also helped fund research into the AIDS epidemic.
United States Olympic Committee Technology and Innovation Fund
The USOC Technology and Innovation Fund was founded in 2017 by Mark Stevens and Geoff Yang for American Olympic athletes. This organization’s focus is on developing new technologies for Olympic hopefuls to help improve athletic performance. Technologies like data analysis, wearable devices, video capture, motion tracking, and predictive software are employed to help get athletes to the next level of performance. The fund has committed itself to support athletes for the 2020 Tokyo games, now postponed to 2021, and the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
Carnegie Corporation of New York
Andrew Carnegie, a wealthy business leader in the steel industry, started his charitable foundation in 1911, the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Since the early days of this foundation, its focus has been to support educational programs. It started by working to create more public libraries across the country. Today, it provides support to worldwide education initiatives and several big programs in New York City. Cultural institutions and museums in New York that serve students have benefitted from large grants from the foundation.
After the death of wealthy real estate and insurance business leader John D. MacArthur, his massive fortune was used to create a new charitable organization in 1978, the MacArthur Foundation. One of the biggest initiatives of the foundation is the MacArthur Fellows program. The program awards cash grants to scholars and other creative professionals working to make a difference in the world. Some notable recipients include author Octavia Butler, journalist David Foster Wallace, Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, The Wire creator David Simon, and children’s writer Karen Hesse.
Walton Family Foundation
Walmart founder Sam Walton established his family’s charitable organization, the Walton Family Foundation, in 1987. This organization focuses on two specific areas, education and the environment. Its main emphasis for education is building charter schools in low-income areas and supporting other educational programs in the public sector. Its environmental work helps support oceans, rivers, and other bodies of water to prevent pollution. Staff on the board have committed to working to end overfishing and restore wetlands near places like the Gulf of Mexico.
In Denver, Colorado, Bill Daniels created the Daniels Fund in 1996. After Daniels died in 2000, his wealth from the cable television industry was transferred to the foundation. A portion of the fund provides scholarships each year to graduating seniors with the Daniels Fund Scholarship Program. The scholarship provides a grant to cover the entire four-year college experience for strong candidates. Additionally, the fund gives donations to organizations in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and New Mexico to support education, seniors, addiction, people with disabilities, youth sports, early childhood education, and the homeless population.
Some of the country’s wealthiest people have become even more influential by creating these important charitable organizations. These organizations have benefitted humanity and worked to eliminate disease, poverty, and inequity around the world. More programs and individuals will be helped by these foundations.