Late Night's Richest: A Look at David Letterman's Philanthropy

David Letterman, who's 68, recently signed off from the Late Show. He's made big money in the nearly 35 years he's spent on television and has been considered the richest late-night host, with a peak salary of $40 million and recent earnings of $20 million annually, according to Yahoo. Letterman is still active in entertainment, with a production company that owns, among other properties, Everybody Loves Raymond. Last decade, TBS bought rerun rights for the show through 2016 for $650,000 an episode.

In other words, Letterman has quite a chunk of change to work with, and his net worth is estimated at $400 million by Some of this money has gone toward philanthropy, and his interestingly named Letterman Foundation for Courtesy and Grooming has been around since 1993. The foundation doesn't have much of a web presence, but according to 2013 tax returns, around $540,000 went out of the door. Unlike a lot of other donors we profile here in Glitzy Giving, a lot of Letterman's philanthropy doesn't involve the Eastern or Western Seaboards. Here are a few must-knows:

1. Letterman Supports Education

David Letterman was born in Indianapolis, studied radio and television at Ball State University, and later worked in Indiana radio. As such, a lot of the foundation's philanthropy focuses on his home state. Ball State University received a $25,000 grant in 2013, and a $3,000 grant in 2012. Support has also gone to Broad Ripple High School, where Letterman graduated, Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson United School Corporation in Indiana.

Outside of Indiana, recent money has gone to Columbia University, Case Western University and Cornell University. In K-12 education, support has gone to Alder Elementary School in Montana, and the Beaumont School in Ohio.

2. Letterman's Largest Sums of Late Have Gone Toward Global Efforts

Around $230,000 went to Habitat for Humanity International in 2013, around $200,000 went to the outfit in 2012, and more than $167,000 went there in 2011. Money has also gone to Friends of the World Food Program. The U.N. World Food Program describes itself as the "largest humanitarian agency fighting global hunger." Support has also gone to the Africa Foundation, which "works to empower rural communities living adjacent to conservation areas in Eastern and Southern Africa, including Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa and Tanzania."

3. Assorted Sums Have Supported Local Outfits in Indiana

Apart from what I've already mentioned, some other grantees in Indiana include Meals on Wheels of Northwest Indiana, Children's Museum of Indianapolis, Catholic Charities in Indianapolis, Indianapolis Art Center, Indiana Historical Society, and Riley's Children Foundation, the fundraising arm of Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.

4. Montana is Another Site of Philanthropy

Letterman bought a home in Montana and got married in the state, as well. Support has gone to local outfits such as the Alder Fire Department and Alder Elementary School in Alder, Montana, Choteau/Teton Public Library, an animal shelter called Bright Eyes Care and Rehab Center, Montana Wilderness Association, and more.

It's also worth noting that Letterman has made grants in health that have focused on cancer, giving recently to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and American Cancer Society. In 2011, he gave a $10,000 grant supporting cancer research work at Case Western University.

Keep in mind that this rundown of Letterman's giving only includes gifts that have gone through his foundation. Additional giving may well be flowing through more direct channels. 

Related: David Letterman Profile