August 25th marks 40 years since the 1975 official release of Born to Run, "The Boss" Bruce Springsteen's breakthrough album that catapulted him to rock and roll royalty. Naturally, writers have been using the anniversary to reflect on the career of the New Jersey-born musician and the rich period his music represents.
But now's also a good moment to look at Springsteen the philanthropist.
Twelve years after Born to Run, in 1987, Springsteen established the Thrill Hill Foundation. While the outfit doesn't have much of a web presence or a clear way for grantseekers to get in touch, it has a couple of interests that are worth knowing about.
Springsteen was born into a working-class family, the son of a bus driver and a secretary. He's well known for his tough critique of how Washington and Wall Street have abandoned blue-collar America in recent decades. As he said recently:
I don’t think the American Dream was that everyone was going to make it or that everyone was going to make a billion dollars... but it was that everyone was going to have an opportunity and the chance to live a life with some decency and a chance for some self-respect.
It's no surprise, then, that a big focus of the Thrill Hill Foundation is on human services and antipoverty efforts, particularly in his native New Jersey, and also in Los Angeles. Helping those at the bottom, getting kicked around, has always been important to The Boss.
Recent support from Thrill Hill has gone to 1736 Family Crisis Center in Los Angeles, which responds to the "growing needs of victims of domestic violence, runaway and homeless youth, homeless families, unemployed adults and youth, and other low-income community members in need of assistance."
Other support has gone to Community Food Bank of New Jersey, Freehold Borough YMCA Community Center, New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans, Saturday Soup of Asbury Park, and Project Angel Food, which provides meals to those struggling with illness.
By the way, grants coming out of Thrill Hill Foundation rarely go above $20,000 and under $400,000 total has gone out of the foundation each year of late. Could a music legend whose net worth has been estimated at $300 million give more? Probably so, and we're betting he will down the line.
A component of Springsteen's philanthropy also involves supporting veterans. He has worked with Stand Up for Heroes and offered auction prizes that included a one-hour guitar lesson, a ride in his motorcycle sidecar, and food to be shared in Springsteen’s homes. A recent effort raised $600,000 total. Springsteen has also been a steady supporter of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
As well, assorted sums have also gone to a number of different local New Jersey causes and outfits including a local scholarship fund and a local habitat for humanity. Money has also gone to Women's Cancer Research Fund, and the Kristen Ann Carr Fund, a cancer-related charity whose namesake was the daughter of Springsteen's co-manager and Springsteen's biographer.
Finally, Springsteen has also moved funds through another charity simply called The Foundation, Inc., created in the 1980s, covers costs for local residents in his native Monmouth County, New Jersey to make fixes to their homes. The current status of the outfit, however, is unknown.
Related: Bruce Springsteen Profile