Emeril and Alden Lagasse

NET WORTH: $50 million, estimated

SOURCE OF WEALTH: Celebrity Chef 

FUNDING AREAS: Children & Youth (Health, Wellness, Arts) 

OVERVIEW: Founded in 2002 by Emeril Lagasse and his wife Alden, the Emeril Lagasse Foundation's mission is to create opportunities to inspire, mentor and enable youth to reach their full potential through culinary, nutrition and arts education. The foundation has given away more than $7 million since its creation. The Emeril Lagasse Foundation also has a strong web presence, and provides guidelines for grantseekers. 

BACKGROUND: Emeril Lagasse was born in 1959 in Massachusetts. After attending culinary school at Johnson and Wales University, Lagasse opened his first restaurant in New Orleans' Warehouse District in 1990. A few years later, Lagasse began appearing on the Food Network, eventually securing his own shows,Essence of Emeril and Emeril Live. In addition to television, Emeril has launched products and restaurants.

ISSUES:

EMERIL LAGASSE FOUNDATION:  In 2002, Lagasse established the Emeril Lagasse Foundation to support children’s educational programs that "inspire and mentor young people through the culinary arts, school food and nutrition and important life skills programs." To date, the foundation has given away some $7 million in grants to children’s charities in New Orleans, the Greater Gulf Coast, and around the country. Projects funded by the foundation include an outdoor classroom, gardens, fresh foods cafeteria and teaching kitchen at Edible Schoolyard New Orleans, an accessible learning kitchen for special needs students at St. Michael Special School. 

The foundation recently gave away more than $320,000 in grants to select nonprofits. Grantees include: 

  • Belle Chasse Academy, which serves approximately 1,500 military dependent students residing in the greater New Orleans area each year.
  • Common Threads, which partners with schools and youth-serving organizations to deliver culturally-relevant, hands-on healthy cooking and nutrition education to children, families and teachers in underserved areas.
  • Youth Empowerment Project (YEP)

LOOKING FORWARD: Lagasse is only in his 50s. For now, expect him to remain focused on supporting children in his select regions. It's worth noting that apart from his foundation, Lagasse may have more direct avenues of giving and some important gifts may be missing from this rundown. 

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