NET WORTH: $230 million, estimated
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Singer, Actress, Comedienne
FUNDING AREAS: Environment & Civic Space, Arts & Culture, Health, Education, Human Services & Humanitarian
OVERVIEW: Bette Midler is the founder of New York Restoration Project, which plants trees, renovates gardens, and restores parks in all five New York City boroughs. Midler's environmental philanthropy has mainly involved the Big Apple, but she's funded outfits with a broader scope, too. Midler has also funded arts and culture outfits, and has an interest in arts education. Midler's family foundation flies well under the radar and has eased its givings of late. Another Midler vehicle, the Jecklyl Foundation, is much more accessible and transparent. One Jeckyl initiative restores auditoriums and stages in New York City public schools.
BACKGROUND: Born in 1945 in Honolulu, Hawaii, Bette Midler attended University of Hawaii, where she studied drama. In the 1960s, she joined the cast of Fiddler on the Roof. After creating a popular nightclub act, Midler earned an Oscar nomination for her performance in The Rose. Midler has also won Grammys and an Emmy. She's released several studio albums and starred in a number of film and stage productions including Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Beaches, and Hocus Pocus.
ENVIRONMENT & CIVIC SPACE: In 1995, Bette Midler created New York Restoration Project (NYRP), New York's "only citywide conservancy." NYRP has planted trees, renovated gardens, restored parks, and transformed open spaces throughout New York City’s five boroughs. One of NYRP's recent focuses is its MillionTreesNYC initiative, which has planted more than one million trees in the five boroughs. Another recent effort has been reviving a long neglected stretch of upper Manhattan waterfront. Midler through her family foundation has recently funded NYRP, as well as similar nonprofits such as Central Park Conservancy, City Parks Foundation, Friends of Hudson River Park, and Westchester Land Trust.
Midler's environmental philanthropy has also involved national and international outfits such as Rainforest Fund and National Audubon Society.
ARTS & CULTURE: Given Midler's long career in entertainment, it's no surprise that her philanthropy would involve arts. Through her family foundation, Midler has recently funded The Met, Met Opera, Museum of the City of New York, Municipal Art Society, and Carnegie Hall Society. She's also supported 52nd Street Project, which "matches inner city kids with professional theatre artists to create original theatre." Arts education is important to this funder, too.
EDUCATION: Apart from the Midler Family Foundation, Bette Midler also engages in philanthropy through the Jeckyl Foundation, which provides "resources and financial support to cultural, educational, health, and environmental organizations working to improve communities in need around the world." Jeckyl's education grantmaking has been laser-focused on New York City public schools. Recent grantees include McKinnney School of the Arts, Public High School 105, which both received funds for auditorium renovation. In fact, a significant undertaking of the Jeckyl Foundation is its Stages for Success Initiative, which revamps and modernizes public school auditoriums. Stages for Success is currently focused on a high school for the arts in the Bronx.
Midler's family foundation's grantmaking has supported education outfits such as Yale University Parent’s Fund, UCLA Development, Communities in the Schools, and Edible Schoolyard NYC.
HUMANITARIAN & HUMAN SERVICES: Midler has funded local New York City outfits like Coalition for the Homeless, and God's Love We Deliver. She's also funded more global organizations like Doctors Without Borders, Human Rights First, and the Mirembe Project, "founded in 1999 to advance human rights and social justice, especially in the Global South." Midler also has supported Lower Nine, which helps in post-Katrina recovery, and through her Jeckyl Foundation, has provided aid to health organizations working in Haiti.
HEALTH: Recent Midler Family Foundation grantees include Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, Mt. Sinai, MS Foundation for Women, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and the Michael J. Fox Foundation .
LOOKING FORWARD: Midler's philanthropy has centered on New York City. Expect this to continue. But apart from her family foundation and the Jeckyl Foundation, Midler may have other more direct avenues of giving and we may be missing some important gifts.
The Midler Family Foundation does not provide a clear avenue for getting in touch, but below is an address:
Midler Family Foundation
700 12th Avenue South, Ste. 201
Nashville, TN 37203