NET WORTH: $40 million, estimated
SOURCE of WEALTH: Actor, Writer and Director
FUNDING AREAS: Women, Human Services, Youth, Education
OVERVIEW: Alan Alda and his wife Arlene founded the Jenjo Foundation in the early 1990s. The foundation has historically prioritized four issues: early childhood, youth development, violence prevention, and microenterprise organizations that serve the needs of women and families. Grants are now generally made to those working in health, education, the environment and other "critical areas which affect the quality of life for all people." Annual grant totals average under $100,000 of late.
BACKGROUND: Alan Alda was born in New York City, the son of actor Robert Alda. He began acting in the theater at the age of 16. During his junior year at Fordham University, he studied in Europe, where he performed on the stage in Rome and on television in Amsterdam with his father. After college, he acted at the Cleveland Playhouse on a Ford Foundation grant. On his return to New York, he performed on Broadway, off-Broadway and on television. Alda is best known for his long-term role as Hawkeye Pierce on the television show M*A*S*H, for which he won five Emmy Awards. He has appeared in many movies, including The Seduction of Joe Tynan, The Four Seasons, Crimes and Misdemeanors, and Everyone Says I Love You.
WOMEN & YOUTH: The Jenjo Foundation is named after Arlene's mother, Jenia, and Alda's mother Joan. In addition, the couple's daughters had recently given birth when the foundation was created, and Arlene is a children's book author. In other words, it is not a surprise that some of the couple's philanthropy has revolved around women, youth and the family. Grantees include Girls Write Now, a nonprofit serving at-risk girls from New York City public high schools; Sadie Nash Leadership Project; Family Services of Merrimack; and Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth (LIGALY). Last decade, Alda also narrated a one-hour TV special for St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
HUMAN SERVICES: Grantees include Retreat, a domestic violence agency, in East Hampton. Alda has also been involved with other organizations including Feeding America and Help USA.
EDUCATION: The couple has supported Economic Ventures, a New York City-based nonprofit that "encourages entrepreneurship through developing and delivering experiential education programs to innovators, visionaries, and early-stage entrepreneurs." The Aldas also have an interest in making science more accessible to the general public. Alda founded the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University, which develops "innovative programs that enable scientists to communicate more effectively with the public." He also originated the Flame Challenge, an international competition for scientists in which they compete to "explain complex scientific concepts so that 11-year-olds can understand them." The Aldas have also supported organizations like Masa, an educational organization in the Bronx.
OTHER: Some of the Jenjo Foundation's funds supported a donor-advised fund at TPI in Boston, with which they have been associated for years. An interesting document on TPI's website goes into the couple's earlier philanthropic vision.
LOOKING FORWARD: Unfortunately, the Jenjo Foundation does not have much of a web presence, or provide a clear way for grantseekers to get in touch. Of late, the foundation has been giving out under 7 grants per year.
Applications should be addressed to:
Alan or Arlene Alda
380 Lexington Avenue, 17th Floor
New York, NY 10168