NET WORTH: $560 million, estimated
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Best-selling author
FUNDING AREAS: Youth Literacy & Reading, Higher Education, Libraries & Bookstores
OVERVIEW: Novelist James B. Patterson's philanthropy unsurprisingly prioritizes youth reading and literacy. He believes that a child's reading success starts at home. He has given away thousands of books, supported and advocated for reading programs, supported libraries and independent bookstores, and funded scholarships.
BACKGROUND: Patterson was born in upstate New York and attended Manhattan College and Vanderbilt University, where he was a Ph.D. candidate in English. He went on to have a successful advertising career where he ran J. Walter Thompson’s North American branch before becoming a full-time writer in 1996. He sold his first novel, a civil-rights-era murder mystery, The Thomas Berryman Number, for $8,500 in 1976, and has since been an enormously prolific and successful writer. He's most well-known for his Alex Cross series. His books have sold more than 300 million copies. As a recent Vanity Fair article illustrates, Patterson is a one-man publishing machine, the "Henry Ford of Books," cranking out dozens of titles a year with the help of an army of co-writers.
YOUTH LITERACY & READING: Patterson is a strong supporter of youth literacy and reading. He funded a major ad campaign that reprinted an opinion piece from CNN.com about the importance of reading. He founded readkiddoread.com, which aims to provides parents with the tools they need to teach their kids the importance of reading. Patterson also recently launched a national campaign to promote reading. Also, Patterson started Middle School Book Bucks and College Book Bucks. The former gets kids to pledge to read at least four books and enters them to win a book shopping spree at bookstores. Patterson also helped set up after-school reading programs at four Palm Beach County middle schools where up to 1,000 books have been donated. Additionally, Patterson's website claims that he has donated a box of books to every school in the Palm Beach County, New York City, Savannah, and Los Angeles Unified School Districts, which totals over 400 schools. In 2019, Patterson partnered with Scholastic and made a $1.25 million pledge to K-12 classroom libraries, granting $250 to 4,000 teachers around the country for book purchases.
HIGHER EDUCATION: Patteron's higher education philanthropy also focuses on reading and literacy. Through the James Patterson Teacher Education Scholarships, undergraduate and graduate students that are studying education and are committed to teaching careers receive support. Recently involved schools include Appalachian State University, Towson University, and University of Washington. Each year, the Patterson Family Foundation awards scholarships to students at 22 different colleges and universities around the country.
LIBRARIES & BOOKSTORES: In 2014, Patterson gave $1 million to independent bookstores across the country. Patterson has also co-hosted a webcast with NBA all-star Dwyane Wade called ONE ON ONE, which is available free of charge to schools, libraries, and for home viewing. Patterson also made a pledge of $1.5 million at the Scholastic Reading Club where schools can get between $1,000 and $10,000 to help improve their library. Patterson gave an additional $250,000 to that effort.
LOOKING FORWARD: One thing is clear: Patterson has prioritized getting youth to read. Additionally, he has given over 200,000 books to soldiers at home and overseas. Great philanthropy in this area down the line seems pretty inevitable.
The Patterson Family Foundation does not provide a clear avenue to get in touch with Patterson but below is an address
Patterson Family Foundation
500 5th Ave., Ste. 2700
New York, NY 10110