David Letterman

NET WORTH: $425 Million, estimated

SOURCE OF WEALTH: Talk Show Host, Comedian

FUNDING AREAS: Education, Global Development & Humanitarian Efforts, Indiana Community, Montana Community

OVERVIEW: David Letterman moves his philanthropy through the Letterman Foundation for Courtesy and Grooming. The foundation has several different interests, and focuses on Indiana, Montana, New York, and the greater Northeast. Grants have also supported national organizations and those working abroad.

BACKGROUND: David Letterman was born in 1947 in Indianapolis, Indiana. He studied radio and television at Ball State University, graduating in 1969. After college, he worked in Indianapolis as a radio talk-show host, the host of a children's program, a news anchor, and as a television weatherman. In 1975, Letterman moved to Los Angeles and wrote material for popular sitcoms, including Good Times. His big break came when he began appearing on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. He was eventually offered his own late-night show. When NBC gave Carson's spot to Jay Leno, Letterman moved to CBS to host Late Show. Letterman retired from the show in 2015. He currently hosts My Next Guest Needs No Introduction on Netflix.


EDUCATION: The Letterman Foundation for Courtesy and Grooming's grantmaking has supported Letterman's alma mater, Ball State University. Letterman also recently announced that he would be donating memorabilia from his career in television, including props and sets from his time hosting career. This collection will become part of "The David Letterman Experience" to be housed in the David Letterman Communication and Media Building, which made its debut in 2007. Other grantees include Columbia University, Case Western University, Cornell University and Rutgers University. He has also supported Broad Ripple High School, where he graduated, Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson United School Corporation in Indiana.

GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT & HUMANITARIAN EFFORTS: Letterman's largest grants have been made in this area of late. He has supported Habitat for Humanity International and Friends of the World Food Program. The U.N. World Food Program describes itself as the largest humanitarian agency fighting global hunger. 

INDIANA COMMUNITY: Letterman was born and raised in Indiana and has given a steady stream of money back to the state. Past grantees include Meals on Wheels of Northwest Indiana, Children's Museum of Indianapolis, Catholic Charities in Indianapolis, Indianapolis Art Center, Indiana Historical Society, Riley's Children Foundation, the fundraising arm of Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, among others. He also supports Child Advocates in Indianapolis, which "engages community volunteers and staff to protect children who are victims of child abuse."

MONTANA COMMUNITY: A steady stream of money has also flowed to various organizations in Montana. The connection here is that Letterman bought a home in the state and got married there as well. Grantees include Alder Fire Department and Alder Elementary School in Alder, Montana.

LOOKING FORWARD: Keep in mind that this rundown of Letterman's grantmaking only includes grants that have gone through his foundation. Additional grantmaking may well be flowing through more direct channels.  It is worth noting that Letterman has also supported Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, American Cancer Society, and cancer research work at Case Western University, perhaps suggesting a particular interest in cancer.


The Letterman Foundation for Courtesy and Grooming does not provide a clear avenue for grantseekers to get in touch, but below is an address

The Letterman Foundation for Courtesy and Grooming
P.O. Box 1510
New York, NY 10150