Billionaire Stephen Ross Is Putting $8M Toward Education in Palm Beach

The real estate mogul's previous philanthropic gifts have included major donations to the University of Michigan.

Man wearing glasses and blazer
Stephen Ross in Florida on September 19, 2021. Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Stephen Ross, billionaire founder of housing developer Related Companies, is donating $8 million to support educational initiatives in Palm Beach County, Florida.

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“Education is one of the most fundamental building blocks of all cities focused on inclusive economic growth,” said Ross in a statement. His donation celebrates the launch of Related Together, a new private grantmaking foundation from Related’s West Palm Beach-based subsidiary.

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The funds will be used to create the Stephen M. Ross Emerging Scholars Program at Palm Beach State College (PBSC), which will grant postsecondary scholarships to the college for future graduates of Palm Beach Lakes and Forest Hill High Schools. It will also fund college preparatory advisors in high schools, prepare students for STEM fields and create a paid peer mentorship program with PBSC students.

“The partnership with Related Together allows us to expand services into the community and removes the top barriers to a postsecondary education for students and families,” said Ava Parker, president of PBSC, in a statement. “Providing college readiness and STEM-focused resources boosts students’ skills and confidence and helps prepare them for in-demand careers right here in West Palm Beach and Palm Beach County.”

Related Together will fund programs beyond education. Its focus areas include housing, income and employment opportunities, healthcare access, arts and culture engagement and digital accessibility. With an overarching goal to reverse the cycle of poverty, the foundation will emphasize donations in the districts of Historic Northwest, Coleman Park and Pleasant City.

Stephen Ross’ philanthropic focus on education

Ross, who is also the owner of the Miami Dolphins NFL team, has an estimated net worth of $10.1 billion. He’s an established philanthropist and in 2013, became a signee of the Giving Pledge, having promised to donate half his fortune to charity.

“Although I have generally conducted my philanthropic efforts privately, I hope through publicly committing to the Giving Pledge that I will inspire others to commit to significant philanthropy the way my uncle inspired me,” said Ross in his pledge letter. His late uncle Max Fisher, a wealthy oilman and philanthropist, was a prominent benefactor of institutions like Ohio State University and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

Ross’ newest donation aligns with his focus on education—the billionaire is the largest single donor to the University of Michigan and has given more than $400 million to his alma mater. His contributions to the university have supported its Ross School of Business, scholarships, athletic facilities and construction of its Detroit Center for Innovation.

The billionaire’s philanthropic interests also extend to arts, healthcare, sustainability and racial equality. He’s a trustee of the Lincoln Center and New York Presbyterian Hospital and a board member of the Jackie Robinson Foundation, New York Stem Cell Foundation and World Resources Institute (WRI).

At the WRI, Ross has contributed a total of $100 million to its Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, a program focused on urban initiatives regarding sustainability and inclusivity. He has also given $30 million to the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality, a coalition working to combat racism in sports.

Billionaire Stephen Ross Is Putting $8M Toward Education in Palm Beach