NET WORTH: $120 Million, estimated
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Film and Television Producer, Screenwriter, Director.
FUNDING AREAS: Education and Youth, Arts, Health, Human Services, Equity and Policy, Global Development, Los Angeles Community.
OVERVIEW: J.J. Abrams and his wife Katie McGrath move their philanthropy through the Katie McGrath & JJ Abrams Family Foundation. The foundation did around $3 million in grantmaking in the most recent available tax year, with a long trail of grantees in areas such as education, policy, human services, the arts and more. The city of Los Angeles, where the couple lives, is a significant focus of their giving.
BACKGROUND: Born in New York City in 1966, Abrams developed an early interest in filmmaking. As an undergraduate at Sarah Lawrence College, he co-wrote the screenplay that would be developed into the 1990 John Belushi comedy, Taking Care of Business. Abrams has gone on to create a number of hit television series, including Felicity, Alias, Lost and Fringe. Abrams also recently directed Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens.
EDUCATION & YOUTH: Abrams and McGrath, through their family foundation, have supported a number education and youth outfits. In higher education, Abrams' alma mater Sarah Lawrence has been supported. The couple has also supported Loyola Law School in Los Angeles County, Harvey Mudd College in suburban Los Angeles, and Katie's alma mater, Simmons College in Boston. In K-12 education, grantees have included City Year Los Angeles, L.A.'s Promise, a nonprofit"working to improve schools & empower neighborhoods in some of the most disenfranchised communities in L.A.," Panorama City High School, The Archer School for Girls, Wildwood School, and Los Angeles Fund for Public Education.
The couple has also given grants to organizations that support youth and children outside school. The couple has been involved with Children's Defense Fund, where Katie sits on the board. Abrams and Katie have bankrolled CDF Freedom Schools, "child-centered summer enrichment programs that boost student capacity and motivation to read, and connect the needs of children and families to resources in their communities." Support has also gone to outfits such as Gabriella Foundation, whose mission is to "transform the lives of underserved youth in Los Angeles through high-quality dance instruction," and Diamond in the RAW, "devoted to empowering and transforming the lives of foster care and at-risk teen girls."
ARTS: Given Abrams' profession, it's no surprise that a component of the couple's philanthropy involves the arts. Grantees have included Writers Guild Foundation, Academy of Motion Pictures Foundation, the Paley Center for Media, Vineyard Playhouse Company, and Producers Guild of America, among others.
HEALTH: The couple doesn't seem to have singled out a particular health cause, with grantmaking going to a range of outfits, such as Project ALS, Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, Stand Up to Cancer, and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
HUMAN SERVICES: The couple also has an interest in human services. They've supported Community Coalition, which "works to help transform the social and economic conditions in South LA"; A Window Between Worlds, "a nonprofit organization dedicated to using art as a healing tool for survivors of domestic violence"; OPCC, a "Santa Monica based social services agency providing housing programs and supportive services"; and Homeboy Industries.
EQUITY & POLICY: Abrams and McGrath, through their foundation have supported places like ProPublica; Advancement Project, a "nonprofit organization that focuses on racial justice issues."; American Foundation for Equal Rights, "dedicated to achieving full marriage equality nationwide" ; California Calls, "a growing alliance of grassroots, community-based organizations"; Feminist Majority Foundation; Death Penalty Focus; and People for the American Way.
GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT: Recent grantees include the Mona Foundation, "an international nonprofit charity working to eradicate global poverty through education," the Unatti Foundation, which "raises funds for education, food and shelter for underprivileged and orphaned girls in Nepal," and Operation Smile.
LOS ANGELES COMMUNITY: The couple has supported outfits such as Greater Los Angeles Zoo Foundation, Los Angeles Police Foundation, Santa Monica PAL, and KPCC - Southern California Public Radio.
ENVIRONMENT: Grantees have included Environmental Media Association, "a nonprofit created to inspire and coordinate an entertainment industry response to the global environmental crisis," Heal the Bay, and Coastal Mountain Land Trust in Maine. Note that a component of the couple's philanthropy involves Maine, where McGrath is from.
LOOKING FORWARD: Abrams is already rather involved in his philanthropy, despite an active Hollywood career. The couple seems to prefer spreading their money to a number of different causes for now, but it's possible that certain interests, particularly education and policy, will emerge more prominently down the line. As well, the couple may have more direct avenues of giving and some gifts may be missing from this guide.
Katie McGrath & JJ Abrams Family Foundation
16000 Ventura Blvd., Ste. 900
Encino, CA 91436