David Lynch

NET WORTH: $60 million

FUNDING AREAS: Transcendental Meditation

SOURCE of WEALTH: Director, Producer

OVERVIEW: Lynch's grantmaking prioritizes transcendental meditation, which he believes is a powerful tool that can transform education, make a positive impact on people's lives, and ultimately lead to world peace.

BACKGROUND: David Lynch was born in Missoula, Montana, and moved several times during his childhood, eventually landing in Alexandria, Virginia. Deciding to study painting in college, he briefly attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, but dropped out after a year, before eventually completing a degree at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. It was here that Lynch first developed an interest in film. After winning a prize for a short film he made for a senior project, he made several more short films, and then moved to Los Angeles to study at the AFI Conservatory. It was here that he produced Eraserhead, which gained a cult following and paved the way for his first mainstream success, The Elephant Man. He then went on to direct and produce other films such as Dune, Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive, as well as the television show Twin Peaks.


TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION: After practicing transcendental meditation for more than three decades, and seeing the positive impact it could have on at-risk youth, victims of violence, and those suffering from PTSD, Lynch founded the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace in 2005. The organization initially started by financing scholarships for students in middle and high schools interested in learning transcendental meditation and funding research on its effects on learning, and has gradually expanded to produce educational materials, and fund programs for students, veterans, women, the homeless, prisoners, those living with HIV/AIDS, victims of violence, American Indians, and Africans affected by war.  Outside supporters of the foundation include Ray Dalio, the hedge fund billionaire. 

LOOKING FORWARD: With such a grandiose plan for changing the world through transcendental meditation, its unlikely that we will see much in the way of more conventional philanthropy. On the other hand, given the many applications of transcendental meditation, there are clearly opportunities for conventional nonprofits here who'd like to experiment with this their institution.