How This Texas Billionaire Media Mogul Does His Philanthropy

Billionaire Billy Joe "Red" McCombs is the founder of the Red McCombs Automotive Group, and co-founder of radio giant Clear Channel Communications (now iHeartCommunications). I've written about the other Clear Channel founder, L. Lowry Mays, before. Like Mays, the 88-year-old McCombs' philanthropy is focused on Texas. Unlike Mays, though, the McCombs Foundation flies well under the radar, with no website or clear way to get in touch. The McCombs Foundation has been around since the early 1980s and through the vehicle the couple are strong supporters of the Lone Star State.

One key interest is education. Recent grantees include San Antonio Can Academies, Junior Achievement of South Texas, Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas, Trinity University in San Antonio, Saint Mary's Hall, Southwestern University (which received a $250,000 grant in 2013), Baylor University, USC Annenberg School, Baylor University, East Central School Foundation, Duke University, University of the Incarnate Word, and Colorado College. Millions have also streamed to University of Texas-Austin. UT Austin is the site of McCombs School of Business, which was created with a $50 million gift. McCombs also supports the University of Texas-Houston.

Another interest is health, with a big winner being the MD Anderson Cancer Center. A $30 million gift in 2005 created the Red and Charline McCombs Institute for the Early Detection and Treatment of Cancer at MD Anderson. In 2012, the McCombs contributed another $2.25 million. They've also given to the Texas Biomedical Research Institute, The Blood & Tissue Center Foundation, and the Texas Neurofibromatosis Foundation.

The couple also supports arts and culture. A $300,000 grant went to Bexar County Performing Arts Center Foundation in 2013. Other recent grantees include San Antonio Museum of Art, Witte Museum, Riverwalk Jazz, and Texas Transportation Museum. The foundation also supports the George W. Bush Foundation and the Briscoe Western Art Museum, each of which received grants of $250,000 in 2013.

McComb supports human services outfits such as YMCA of Greater San Antonio, San Antonio Food Bank, and Haven for Hope, a nonprofit that provides services for the homeless. The couple has also funded several Texas churches, including Alamo Heights United Methodist Church and the First Baptist Church of San Antonio. Sums have gone to the Texas Historical Foundation, Texas Economic Development Corporation, and Texas Public Policy Foundation. McCombs has owned several professional sports teams over the years, and recent grantees in that arena include Texas Sports Hall of Fame and San Antonio Sports Foundation.

Finally, I should close by mentioning that foundation President Marsha McCombs Shields is thought to be heir apparent to the family business, so grantseekers should follow her developing philanthropic interests as well. 

Related: Billy Joe "Red" McCombs

Related: McCombs Foundation: Texas Grants