OVERVIEW: The Saban Family Foundation focuses its grantmaking on health and social welfare causes in Los Angeles and Israel. Women's empowerment is also an interest. The foundation takes a pro-Jewish political stance in its philanthropy.
IP TAKE: If you're running a Jewish organization in Los Angeles, you'll likely have a friend in the Sabans. The Sabans have a fairly one-track mind when it comes to giving, so you'll need to narrow your program's focus down as well.
PROFILE: Los Angeles has no shortage of intriguing power couples, but few have the pointed philanthropic visions of Haim and Cheryl Saban. Sometimes referred to as a "celebrity foundation," the Saban Foundation was established in 1999 to support children's health research and social welfare in Los Angeles and Israel.
Haim Saban started his career in the entertainment business by playing bass for and managing a rock band called Lions of Judah in 1966. He worked as a music producer and launched a record company in the 1970s. Haim switched over to television in the 1980s and started Saban Entertainment, which became best known for Power Rangers, Masked Rider, VR Troopers, and Big Bad Beetleborgs, all of which were adaptations of Japanese shows. He switched gears again in the 1990s and focused his attention on politics, specifically as they related to Israel. Haim's wife, Cheryl, is an author and psychologist who advocates for women's empowerment and pediatric health care.
As a longtime supporter of Israeli issues, the Sabans' international focus is strictly on pro-Jewish causes. In 2007, the foundation made headlines with a $14 million grant to complete the children's hospital at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba. Domestically, the Sabans favor their home city of Los Angeles and the hospitals in it as well. Saban awards grants to organizations that have well-defined objectives and sound leadership within the health care and social welfare confines.
At the end of 2013, the foundation reported over $14 million in assets and more than $6 million in total giving.
Most Saban grants go toward building renovations, curriculum development, program development, research, scholarships, conferences, and seed money. So clearly, Saban is willing to fund things that other foundations in the city turn their noses up at. Some past grants in the Los Angeles area include at least $1 million annually in recent years to the Children’s Hospital of LA, $1.25 million to the Rape Foundation in Santa Monica, and around $83,000 to Cedar's Sinai Medical Center for researching female-pattern heart disease. Money has also gone to Los Angeles Team Mentoring, Los Encintos School, and the Jewish Community Foundation.
The only Saban grants that stray from Los Angeles and Israel usually go to Jewish national organizations headquartered in Washington, D.C., and yearly donations to former President Bill Clinton's foundation, which is based in Arkansas. Saban, by the way, has been a major supporter of the Democratic party, and has hosted politicians visiting Los Angeles.
It's worth noting that Cheryl Saban also runs the Cheryl Saban Self Worth Foundation for Women & Girls in Los Angeles, which focuses on women's empowerment. A component of the Saban Family Foundation also considers such issues.
The foundation is run by a very small staff, and Cheryl takes the reins for philanthropic dealings. Saban doesn't publicize its grantmaking strategy or provide grantseekers with any insights about how to apply for a grant. Your best bet for getting in touch with the foundation is to contact Cheryl Saban via Linked In or by calling 954-476-9273. Alex de Ocampo is the current managing director, overseeing the $200 million endowment.