M. Night and Bhavna Shyamalan

NET WORTH: $50 Million, estimated

SOURCE OF WEALTH: Director, Writer, Producer

FUNDING AREAS: Education, Global Development

OVERVIEW: M. Night Shyamalan and his wife, Bhavna, move their philanthropy through the M. Night Shyamalan Foundation (MNSF), established in 2001. MNSF's domestic interests largely involve education in Philadelphia. Globally, meanwhile, MNSF's efforts focus on livelihood opportunities, education, food and water access, and agricultural projects in Africa, India, and Central America. The foundation has a website and a strong web presence overall, though it works with a select number of partners, providing multi-year support.

BACKGROUND: M. Night Shyamalan was born in India in 1970. His family moved to the United States when he was young, and he grew up in Philadelphia's suburbs. The son of physicians, Shyamalan developed an interest in film early on and attended NYU Tisch School of the Arts, graduating in 1993. The filmmaker has gone on to make films like Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs.


EDUCATION: The MNSF supports education on both a domestic and international level. On the domestic front, Shyamalan and Bhavna focus on education in Philadelphia. Shyamalan became passionate about this area after filming on location in the city and coming across, as he puts it, "prisons in the form of schools." Shyamalan wrote a book about his experiences called I Got Schooled. The foundation has worked with KIPP Charter Schools Philadelphia, Teach for America, Education Voters PA, and Springboard Collaborative.

The couple's foundation is also interested in education internationally. MNSF has partnered with organizations like Vivology, a social enterprise which connects donors with grassroots education projects and student scholarships around the world, Starfish One by One, which focuses on young women, and Tanzanian Children's Fund. 

GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT: Bhavna plays a strong role in the couple's philanthropy. Born in India and raised in Hong Kong, she went on to get a PhD in clinical psychology from Bryn Mawr. She workedcounseling young victims of sexual abuse and these days travels around the world to vet nonprofits. MNSF has several initiatives which attempt to address global issues: Food and Nutrition, Human Trafficking and Slavery, Livelihood and Job Skills, and Water. A sampling of partners includes Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya; Tanzanian Children's Fund; The Samburu Project, a nonprofit focused on drilling wells in Kenya; Nuevas Esperanzas, which works for the Nicaraguan poor; and Valentino Achak Deng Foundation, a nonprofit organization working to increase access to education in post-conflict South Sudan. It's worth noting that MNSF's Human Trafficking initiative states that it is looking for organizations with which to partner. So far, MNSF has initiated multi-year partnerships with outfits in countries like in India, Tanzania, Guatemala, South Sudan, Nicaragua, Kenya, and Ghana

LOOKING FORWARD: Shyamalan was in his thirties when he started MNSF and is now only in his 40s. In other words, this is likely only the beginning for a couple that already has shown plenty of engagement and passion. It's quite possible that more money streams to these causes down the line, and that the Shyamalans develop new interests.