NET WORTH: $5.2 billion
SOURCE: Director, Writer, Producer, Founder of Lucasfilms and Industrial Light & Magic.
FUNDING AREAS: Education, Arts & Culture
OVERVIEW: For many years, George Lucas has supported education. In recent years, Lucas has also focused his attentions on bringing the Los Angeles-based Lucas Museum of Narrative Art to life through $1 billion spent on construction and endowments. Importantly, he signed the Giving Pledge with his wife, Mellody Hobson., The couple conducts philanthropy through its George Lucas Family Foundation (which held more than $1 billion in assets in a recent years) and the George Lucas Educational Foundation.
BACKGROUND: Born in Modesto, California, George Lucas was interested in film from an early age. He graduated from the USC Film School, and later co-founded the production company, American Zoetrope, with Francis Ford Coppola. He also established his own company, Lucasfilm, and went on to write, produce and direct American Graffiti, and, of course, Star Wars. In addition, Lucas established the effects company Industrial Light & Magic, and produced the Indiana Jones franchise among many other films.
EDUCATION: In 1991, Lucas founded the George Lucas Educational Foundation to focus on “transforming K-12 education so that all students can acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to thrive in their studies, careers, and adult lives,” according to the foundation’s website, Edutopia. The website provides resources to implement six “transformational strategies:” comprehensive assessment, integrated studies, project-based learning, social and emotional learning, teacher development and technology integration. In 2013, Lucas Education Research began operating as a division of the George Lucas Educational Foundation. This program “focuses on the design and evaluation of innovative practices in K–12 schools, including many of the core strategies described by [its] sister division Edutopia.org.” Education grants range from a few thousand to half a million or more, but only support a few select organizations per year, and tend to involve multi-year proposals. Past grantees include Michigan State University, Stanford University, University of Colorado, University of Washington, and the USC Film School, which was named after Lucas, the other after his ex-wife, Marcia Lou Griffin.
ARTS & CULTURE: While George and Mellody Lucas prioritizes preserving his artifacts, they have also conducted funding for arts and culture beyond Lucas’s collection of illustrations, pop art, props and movie memorabilia is worth an estimated $1 billion. He has willed his collection to be housed at the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, which will be located near USC, in Exposition Park. Lucas will reportedly be donate $300 million for the museum’s construction and another $400 million to endow it once it opens. Other past arts and culture grantees include the new Smithsonian African American Museum, as well as the Norman Rockwell Museum.
OTHER: The George Lucas Family Foundation made more than $64 million in disbursements in 2015 alone to more than 200 organizations, including those that support childhood development and mentorship, medical research and outreach, gun control, cultural diversity awareness, faith-based resource centers, refugee aid, inner-city youth support, environmental and wildlife initiatives, various museums, public media and others. The couple seems to focus their giving in Chicago, New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
LOOKING FORWARD: When Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney for just over $4 billion in 2012, his spokesperson said he planned to put the majority of the proceeds toward philanthropic endeavors. Since then, Lucas has focused on creating his museum, where he is poised to spend at least $1 billion. Now that the museum plans are all but finalized, we can expect him to circle back to education and other initiatives in order to make good on the couple’s Giving Pledge.
George Lucas Family Foundation
P.O. Box 2009
San Rafael, CA 94912
George Lucas Educational Foundation
P.O. Box 3494
San Rafael, CA 94912