NET WORTH: Unknown
SOURCE of WEALTH: Disney
FUNDING AREAS: Health, Education, Los Angeles Community
OVERVIEW: The Eisner Foundation, started by Michael Eisner and his wife Jane in 1996, has given out over $100 million in grants, and currently holds more than $133 million in assets. Focusing primarily on the underserved children and elderly of Los Angeles County, the foundation averages approximately $7 million in annual grantmaking.
BACKGROUND: Michael Eisner grew up in a Jewish family in New York, and attended Denison University before starting a career in the entertainment industry. He worked briefly at NBC and CBS before being hired as the assistant to the national programming director at ABC, where he eventually became a senior vice president in charge of programming and development. When his boss, Barry Diller, left to become chairman of Paramount Studios, he brought Eisner with him, making Eisner president and CEO. When Diller left Paramount in 1984, Eisner took a position as chairman and CEO of Disney.
LOS ANGELES COMMUNITY: The Eisner Foundation has been making the bulk of its grants to Los Angeles community organizations for some two decades. Organizations and programs that involve children’s health and education receive the majority of the funding, though health, housing, job training and other programs for low income adults and seniors are also supported. Typical grant amounts ranging from $1,000 to $150,000, and many involving multi-year commitments.
Grantees have included USC, Project GRAD Los Angeles, Inner-City Arts, Partners for Children South Los Angeles, and 826LA, which focuses on writing. Cultural organizations such as LACMA and Los Angeles Philharmonic regularly receive grants as well, as do other health clinics, schools, and organizations that focus on youth and community development.
HEALTH: Outside of the medical centers and free clinics in Los Angeles, the Eisners have supported places like Foundation for AIDS Research. Smaller amounts have gone to the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
EDUCATION: Outside of the many schools the Eisners support in and around Los Angeles, they've given to Eisner's alma mater, Denison, as well as to places like Teach for America, DonorsChoose.org, and the Posse Foundation.
LOOKING FORWARD: Eisner has one of the most robust foundations of any entertainment executive, and his giving pattern has remained largely consistent over the course of its existence. As Eisner has more time to focus on philanthropy, however, we wouldn't be surprised to see a greater expansion beyond the Los Angeles community. Health and education will likely continue to be the greatest focus, but Eisner clearly has wide interests.