Three Things to Know About the Ragon Foundation

The Phillip and Susan Ragon Foundation is the charitable outfit of billionaire Phillip Ragon and his wife Susan. The Ragons both work at InterSystems, a health database management services company headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Ragon founded the company in 1978, and serves as CEO. Susan, meanwhile, is vice president of finance, administration and recruitment.

The couple lives and works in the Boston area, so it makes sense that much of their philanthropy takes place in this area as well. Unfortunately, the foundation doesn't accept unsolicited requests for funds, nor does it have a website. But here's a quick overview of this mainly local grantmaker:

1. The Ragon Institute is Central to the Couple's Philanthropy

In 2009, and on the heels of a trip to South Africa during which Ragon saw the effects of HIV/AIDS firsthand, the couple established the Ragon Institute in partnership with Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard and MIT to pursue the development of an HIV vaccine. Ragon attended MIT and has given to his alma mater in the past. The couple has pledged $100 million over a ten-year period toward the the Ragon Institute and they support the institute through the Phillip and Susan Ragon Institute Foundation.

2. Other Health Outfits Have Been Supported as Well

While the Ragon Institute highlights the couple's health philanthropy, it's not the only outfit in Boston which has received support. In fact, the couple's commitment to Massachussetts General Hospital (MGH) started even before the Ragon Institute. At least $2 million went to the hospital in 2007, and at least $4 million went to the hospital in 2008. Ragon is currently a trustee at MGH and also served as co-chair of the MGH campaign.

The couple has also supported Joslin Diabetes Center and Boston Children’s Hospital Trust. The Boston location of Oxfam-America also recently saw support from the Ragons.

3. The Couple Has Supported Quite a Number of Religious Institutions

The Ragon Foundation has also given funds to St. Peters Parish, St. Mary of the Sacred Heart Church, Dominican Sisters of the Presentation, and the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. Many of these institutions have been funded on an annual basis, though grants for each rarely exceed $50,000 a year.

In recent years, the couple's grantmaking has also included a religious school in Bogota called Instituto San Pablo Apostol which was named after Pope Paul VI in memory of his 1968 visit to the country. The outfit received nearly half a million in 2013. While it's unclear if this is the school Ragon actually attended, his attendance at a Catholic high school would explain a lot. 

The couple has been a steady supporter of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and the Boys and Girls Club in Boston.

For the most part, this foundation's grantmaking won't overwhelm you, but as far as Boston is concerned, they're into a couple of key areas, with the Ragon Institute headlining. What's more, unlike the foundation, the Ragon Institute has funding opportunities for eligible researchers.