NET WORTH: $850 million, estimated
SOURCE of WEALTH: A&M Records
FUNDING AREAS: Arts Education, Compassion & Well-Being
OVERVIEW: Herb Alpert and his wife Lani have been a major supporters of music education for the past two decades through the Herb Albert Foundation. The foundation has a strong web presence but grants are by invitation only.
BACKGROUND: Herb Alpert grew up in East Los Angeles in an Eastern European Jewish family, all of whom were talented musicians. After high school, he joined the army, and then returned home and attended USC. Along with business partner Jerry Moss, he later created A&M records, and produced many hit albums, including those for his own band, the Tijuana Brass. Eventually the pair sold the label to Polygram for a reported $500 million. As a recording artist, Alpert has had 5 albums reach number 1 on the Billboard chart, is the only artist to reach the top as both a singer and a vocalist, and has won nine Grammy Awards.
ARTS EDUCATION: Alpert is a huge supporter of music education at all levels. His biggest recipient has been UCLA, which has received tens of millions for the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, followed by more than $23 million for the music program at CalArts. Other higher education institutes have received support as well, including Thelonious Monk Institute for Jazz.
For K-12 music education, grantees have included Harlem School of the Arts, PS Arts, and California State Summer School for the Arts. The foundation also awards scholarships to high school students through the Herb Alpert Scholarships for Emerging Young Artists at the California State Summer School for the Arts, and recently established an endowment to provide free tuition and private lessons to music majors attending Los Angeles City College with a $10.1 million gift.
Alpert also supports a few organizations that deal with education more generally including New Visions Foundation; the Ojai Foundation, which runs a land sanctuary, professional development center for educators and councils in schools for students that teach authentic expression and empathic, non-judgmental listening and receptivity, and integrate it into school curricula; and Communities in Schools of California.
ARTS: Albert supports a number of jazz organizations and performance spaces, along with theaters and other arts groups, mostly in Greater Los Angeles and San Francisco, although some more nationally recognized organizations like the Smithsonian and the Jazz Foundation of America. Several community arts partnerships have received funding as well including community arts partnership at CalArts, and the Peddie School in New Jersey, and Tompkins County, New York. There is also the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, an annual unrestricted prize of $75,000 given to risk-taking mid-career artists working in the fields of dance, film/video, music, theatre and the visual arts. The prize is administered by the California Institute of the Arts.
LOOKING FORWARD: In his 80s, Alpert’s philanthropic legacy is largely solidified. It’s hard to say what sorts of resources he has left, but we wouldn't be surprised to see another influx of cash into his foundation soon, or larger gifts to endow the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music or the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts. The foundation once also focused on other causes such as health, medical research, and environmental issues.