In Philanthropy: Michael Bloomberg’s $44M Donation and More

David LaCross, Mackenzie Scott and Kent Kresa are some of the other philanthropists making major donations.

From a historical donation to the University of Virginia’s business school to the significant expansion of a space and science museum in California, these are notable recent developments in the world of philanthropy.

Michael Bloomberg makes a major gift to Israel’s medical emergency services

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Michael Bloomberg at the 2023 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 6. PA Images via Getty Images

Earlier this month, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged to match contributions to Magen David Adom, the national emergency, disaster, ambulance and blood service of Israel. Now, he will funnel nearly $44 million to the nonprofit, making its total gift of $88 million the largest in its history.

Bloomberg, who has an estimated net worth of $96.3 billion, cited the recent conflict between Israel and Palestine as an incentive for his giving. “America has always been a friend to Israel and I am encouraged that so many of us are stepping up to help our ally during these challenging times,” he said in a statement to The New York Times. The organization’s gift will fund ambulances, medical equipment, ballistic vests and helmets.

A supporter of the organization since the 1990s, Bloomberg in 2011 funded a new flagship service station in Jerusalem, complete with a blood center, for Magen David Adom. This isn’t the first time the billionaire has offered to match funding—in 2017, he pledged to double donations to his nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety, which advocates for gun control.

Much of the philanthropist’s funding is conducted through his foundation Bloomberg Philanthropies, which focuses on areas like public policy, education and the arts. Some of its recent initiatives have included the $50 million launch of an idea-sharing network for global cities and a $500 million donation toward a project aiming to shut down all U.S. coal plants.

David and Kathleen LaCross continue to support the University of Virginia

Woman in pink cardigan and man in suit pose in front of brick building
Kathleen and David LaCross have long been supporters of the school. Courtesy University of Virginia

A staggering donation from David LaCross, the founder of financial tech-based company Risk Management Technologies, and his wife Kathleen will support artificial intelligence (A.I.) research at the University of Virginia’s (UVA) Darden School of Business. The $50 million gift brings the couple’s total giving to Darden to $100 million—the most significant in the school’s history and among the top ten donations given to any business school.

Their newest gift will support the expansion of pre-existing A.I. initiatives to involve both the Darden’s Institute for Business in Society and its Olsson Center for Applied Ethics. “Students need to be exposed to A.I. in meaningful ways, and there is no business school better positioned to teach managers how to work with A.I. in ethical and responsible ways than Darden,” said David, who earned an MBA from Darden in 1978, in a statement. The funds will additionally support the construction of new residential housing at the school.

The recent financial contribution from the couple builds on a $44 million donation they made in 2022, which totaled $50 million with additional funding from the school and went toward the establishment of Darden’s A.I. Initiative, residential housing, botanical gardens and the endowment of the dean’s chair. The LaCross family previously funded a professorship at the school in 2020.

A Chicago-based nonprofit receives unrestricted funds from MacKenzie Scott

MacKenzie Scott poses on red carpet in red dress.
MacKenzie Scott has been on a donation spree. Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott is on a roll. The billionaire has given away more than $100 million in 2023 thus far, and it doesn’t seem like she’ll slow down anytime soon. Her latest gift is directed toward Skills for Chicagoland’s Future, a nonprofit addressing economic mobility by helping the unemployed find work.

Scott’s $5 million donation will allow the organization to invest in programs like technology solutions to bring in more talent and a partnership referral system, according to Skills, which operates several locations across Chicago and has employer partnerships with 130 local businesses. “A gift of this magnitude will have a massive impact on the people we serve from communities that continue to face persistently high unemployment and systemic barriers as a result of historic disinvestments and redlining,” said Skills CEO Bridget Altenburg in a statement.

As is typical, Scott’s gift is unrestricted, meaning the philanthropist has no say in how the funds will be used. This is the case for most donations granted through her foundation Yield Giving, which has granted more than $14 billion in the past three years. Scott, who has an estimated net worth of $35.5 billion and was formerly married to Amazon (AMZN)’s Jeff Bezos, has since 2019 pledged to give the majority of her fortune to charity. Her charitable contributions have largely focused on sectors like global health, affordable housing and childhood education.

Kent Kresa gives the California Science Center a boost

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Kent Kresa (president) and daughter Kiren Kresa-Reahl, MD, at the site of the Kent Kresa Space Gallery in the future Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center. Courtesy the California Science Center

A California museum and educational center is receiving a major gift from Kent Kresa, a former aerospace executive. A $25 million donation from Kresa and the Kresa Family Foundation will support expansion plans at the California Science Center.

Kresa previously served as CEO of aerospace and defense company Northrop Grumman and in 2009 was chosen by the Obama administration to serve as chairman of General Motors through the company’s bankruptcy. Now, with his latest gift, Kresa will also see a gallery at the California Science Center named after him. It will be part of the upcoming Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center project, the center’s 200,000-square-foot expansion that will include three galleries showcasing immersive exhibits regarding both aircraft and spacecraft. A campaign for the expansion has raised $350 million out of its $400 million goal so far.

In addition to Kresa’s monetary gift, Northrop Grumman is donating solid rocket motors from the Space Shuttle Endeavour to be displayed in the new galleries. “Not only will the Kent Kresa Space Gallery be a place to learn about the science involved in these great advancements, it will encourage the young people who visit to dream about future possibilities,” said Kresa in a statement. “My gift to the California Science Center is an investment in our youth, to inspire them to be part of scientific pursuits and fuel tomorrow’s discoveries.”

In Philanthropy: Michael Bloomberg’s $44M Donation and More