NET WORTH: $45 Million, estimated
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Novelist
FUNDING AREAS: Literacy
OVERVIEW: David Baldacci does much of his grantmaking through Wish You Well Foundation, which he runs with his wife, Michelle. Wish You Well supports family and adult literacy across the country. The foundation has also partnered with Feeding America to launch Feeding Body & Mind, a program that addresses the links between literacy, poverty, and hunger.
BACKGROUND: David Baldacci was born in 1960 in Virginia. He attended Henrico High School in the Richmond area before earning his bachelor's degree from Virginia Commonwealth University and his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. He practiced law in Washington, D.C., and also wrote novels. In 1996, Baldacci published his first novel, Absolute Power, which was adapted into a major motion picture with Clint Eastwood directing and starring. Baldacci has published 30 novels, several of which have been adapted for film and television.
LITERACY: Established in 2002, Wish You Well Foundation's mission is to support family and adult literacy in the United States by "fostering and promoting the development and expansion of new and existing literacy and educational programs." Grantees include Literacy Volunteers of Chenango County and Literacy Volunteers of Greater Syracuse, both of which deal with adult literacy in Central New York State, as well as other Literacy Volunteer outfits in states such as Virginia, Florida, and New Jersey.
Other grantees include Baltimore Reads, Learn to Read of St. Lucie County in Florida, Twin Lakes Literacy Council, which offers free tutoring in reading, language and math in Arkansas, Virginia Literacy Foundation, and Catherine McAuley Center, "which provides one-on-one tutoring for adult learners and a transitional housing program for women." A component of the couple's philanthropy also involves support of libraries, such as their support of Fairfax County Public Library Foundation.
The foundation's grantmaking has also supported literacy in schools, supporting the Eagle Reading Program of Snow Creek Elementary School in Virginia, and Henrico Education Foundation, which, along with Greenwood Elementary School, "provides literacy materials for students from many cultures and languages, generating tolerance and understanding of various cultures and ethnic differences in the school and their community."
Wish You Well Foundation has also supported early childhood literacy, having supported nonprofits like the Karla Fund in Ann Arbor, which "distributes books and materials to parents of newborns at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to promote early childhood reading."
The foundation has also partnered with Feeding America to launch Feeding Body & Mind, a program that addresses the links between literacy, poverty, and hunger. Feeding Body & Mind collects new and used books and then distributes them through the Feeding America Food Banks. Over 1 million new and slightly used books have been collected and distributed through food banks to families in need.
OTHER: When Baldacci's sister was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Baldacci became involved with the National MS Society. Baldacci has taken part in Books for a Better Life Awards, which recognizes self-improvement authors whose messages inspire people to live their best lives.
LOOKING FORWARD: Baldacci is only in his 50s, so watch him for greater giving down the line. It is possible that apart from Wish You Well Foundation, some of the couple's philanthropy moves through other more direct channels.