The Other Perot Who Gives: An Overview of Sarah and Ross Perot Jr.'s Philanthropy

We're often excited by philanthropy that spans multiple generations. Whether it's Jim Simons and his son Nathaniel, Edward C. Johnson III and his daughter Abagail, or the $80 billion Mars clan, a full picture of philanthropy includes not just well-established patriarchs and matriarchs, but also sons and daughters.

Consider the case of Ross Perot Jr., the only son of businessman and politican Ross Perot. While Ross Perot Sr's foundation has been around since 1969,  the younger Perot also has a foundation, which has been giving steadily in higher education, the arts, and more for a while now.

Perot and his wife Sarah Fullinwider Perot, daughter of oil man Jerry Fullinwider, established the Sarah and Ross Perot Jr. Foundation in 2002, and since then, have focused their philanthropy on the Dallas area. Here area few facts about the foundation:

1. Grantmaking Often Follows Board Memberships or Personal Connections

St. Mark's School of Texas, Perot's alma mater and where he serves on the board of trustees, received around $3 million between in 2012 and 2013 alone. Then there's Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where Sarah serves on the board. Sarah got her undergraduate degree from the school; her father also attended SMU. In 2011, the couple established the Jerome M. Fullinwider Endowed Centennial Chair in Economic Freedom at Southern Methodist University, in Sarah's father's name. Around $1 million went to SMU in 2013 also. 

There are other connections too, such as the AT&T Performing Arts Center, which has received around $300,000 annually over the last few years. Sarah served as development chair at the arts center.

2. The Couple Is A Strong Funder of Arts and Culture

Speaking of Sarah, she often appears to take the lead in the couple's philanthropy and serves as the foundation's president. Sarah is also on the board of the the Dallas Symphony Association. In 2013, that outfit received $100,000 from the couple.

Likely the largest effort of the couple in this space was helping to establish the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, an amalgamation of several different museums. In 2008, a $50 million gift from Perot and his four sisters resulted in the outfit being renamed the Perot Museum, in honor of Ross Perot Sr. and his wife Margot.

3. This is Likely Just The Beginning

Perot is only in his 50s, and is worth nearly $2 billion, so there's still a lot more the foundation could do in the coming years. As well, the senior Perot is worth close to $4 billion and Sarah's father is the founder of an oil company. Around $4 million has been going out of the foundation of late and it appears to accept applications. A component of the couple's philanthropy also involves the environment—they've been supporters of the UT Austin Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, toward programming related to native plant conservation, among other things.