How This Disney Power Couple Does Their Philanthropy

We've written before about former chairman and CEO of Disney, Michael Eisner, and his philanthropy. Eisner's giving is focused on Los Angeles, supporting health and education, among other areas. Eisner's Disney successor is longtime COO Robert Iger, who in 2005 was named CEO. In the decade since, he has presided over some of the biggest moves in the history of the storied studio, led by the acquisitions of Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Entertainment and Lucasfilm (which brought with it, of course, the Star Wars franchise.)

In 2014, Iger pulled in $46.5 million as Disney’s chief executive, and in 2015, he made $44.9 million, according to Fortune. It's unclear how much Iger is currently worth, but one estimate puts his net worth at $100 million.

Iger has a history of philanthropy, and he and his wife Willow Bay engage in charity through their Iger Bay Foundation, which appears to be newly minted, with only a handful of tax record years available. In a recent fiscal year, the foundation did $1.7 million in grantmaking. Like Eisner, many of Iger's grantees are also in the Los Angeles area.

Iger's wife Willow Bay is a veteran television journalist, digital news editor, and director of Annenberg School of Journalism at University of Southern California. While the school doesn't appear to have received funds from the couple through Iger Bay Foundation yet, this is one potential site of philanthropy. So far, education grantees include Campbell Hall in North Hollywood, Center for Early Education, a private primary school located in West Hollywood (which received $525,000 in the most recent fiscal year), City Year Los Angeles, Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, UCLA Foundation, Communities in the Schools of Los Angeles, and Loyola Law School. The couple has also funded Young Eisner Scholars, a nonprofit "that levels the educational playing field for promising children in our under-served communities." The outfit was founded by Michael Eisner's son, Eric. 

Iger and Bay also support youth. They've recently funded Exceptional Children's Foundation, whose mission is to "provide the highest quality services for children and adults who are challenged with developmental, learning and emotional disabilities," Girls Inc., Girls Leadership Institute, and Child Mind Institute, among others.

Not surprisingly, the couple also has an interest in the arts. Iger is on the board of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and Bay is a vice chair of the board of LACMA, which received a grant of over $433,000 recently. The foundation has also given to Target Margin Theater, Bronx Museum of Arts and the Academy Foundation.

The couple's health philanthropy has included steady support for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, an outfit Willow has been involved with since since the early 1990s. They've also bankrolled outfits such as Alzheimer's Association, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Women's Guild Cedars-Sinai and International Medical Corps.

Another area of interest for this funder is human services, with a focus on outfits that work on a community level in Los Angeles. Recent human services grantees include Homeboy Industries, "the largest and most successful gang rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world," Catholic Charities, and the Rape Foundation. They've also supported Community Partnerswhose vision is a "vibrant society in which individuals and institutions use knowledge, resources, and relationships to build equitable, democratic and thriving communities." Through Community Partners, the couple has recently supported Baby2Baby which, "provides low-income children ages 0-12 with diapers, clothing and all the basic necessities that every child deserves."

The Iger Bay Foundation has supported environmental outfits, too. So far, the couple's giving in this area has been modest, but expect more significant giving down the line. I should also note that this rundown is of grants made via the Iger Bay Foundation, and it's possible the couple have given through other avenues.

Related: Robert A. Iger

Related: Iger Bay Foundation: Los Angeles Grants