L. Lowry Mays is a cofounder of Clear Channel Communications (now known as iHeartCommunications). Radio division iHeartMedia has 245 million monthly listeners in the United States— the largest reach of any radio and television outlet in the country. The 80-year-old Mays has amassed quite a bit of wealth over the years, and while he's not currently on the Forbes billionaire list, he's been on there in the past.
Mays grew up Dallas and went to Texas A&M University. He started out working as a petroleum engineer but ended up serving in the Air Force. After a time in Asia, Lowry got his MBA from Harvard Business School and moved back to San Antonio where he worked at an investment banking company and later formed his own. In the early 1970s, Lowry and fellow Texan, Red McCombs, purchased their own radio station. The rest is broadcasting history.
Lowry has also been heavily involved in civic life, particularly in Texas, and in 2004 he and his wife Peggy provided the initial funds for the Mays Family Foundation, which has been laser-focused on the Lone Star State. The good news for grantseekers working in this region is that the foundation is accessible, with a website and staff that accepts applications. The Mays Family Foundation even provides a pdf document and an online tutorial to ease the application process.
What exactly have Lowry and Peggy been funding in Texas and beyond?
Well, education is one big winner and at least $20 million went to University of Texas-Austin last decade. Mays has given grants to the University of Texas-Houston and Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, Texas. Mays is heavily involved with his alma mater, Texas A&M, where the business school is named in his honor. Lately, he's given to outfits such as Alamo Community Colleges, Alamo Heights High School Foundation, dropout prevention organization Communities in Schools, and Eanes Education Foundation, which works within the Eanes Independent School District in Austin.
The Mays Family Foundation also makes quite a few health grants, and Mays has personal motivations. He suffered a stroke and Peggy had cancer. In 2015, the couple gave a $5 million gift to University of Texas Health Science Center’s Cancer Therapy and Research Center (CTRC). Peggy received treatment at this outfit some three decades ago. The foundation also recently gave $2.5 million to Children’s Hospital of San Antonio. Other recent grants have gone to Blood and Tissue Center Foundation, Bulverde-Spring Branch EMS, Cancer Center Council, Cancer Therapy and Research Center (which received more than $507,000 in the 2013 fiscal year), and MD Anderson Cancer Center. Some $950,000 has gone to Texas Biomedical Research Institute in the two most recent tax years available.
Arts and culture is also a focus area of the Mays Family Foundation. In 2014, it donated $1.25 million toward the ongoing construction of the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts in San Antonio. The Tobin Center received $500,000 in the 2013 fiscal year, as well. Other recent grantmaking has involved outfits such as Briscoe Western Art Museum, National Museum of Wildlife Art in Wyoming, San Antonio Museum of Art, San Antonio Zoo (which received $525,000 in the 2013 fiscal year), and the Witte Museum, which received more than $1 million in the 2013 fiscal year. It's worth mentioning that a component of the couple's philanthropy takes places in Wyoming, where they also have a residence.
Mays has funded select environmental and animal outfits, including Animal Defense League, Bat Conservation International, Brackenridge Park Conservancy, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, National Geographic Society and Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Support has gone to human services outfits such as United Way and churches such as St. Anthony De Padua Church, and Christ Episcopal Church.
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