NET WORTH: $200 million, estimated
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Actor
FUNDING AREAS: Early Childhood Education, Arts, Mississippi Community
OVERVIEW: Morgan Freeman does his grantmaking through the Tallahatchie River Foundation, which supports Tallahatchie County and the state of Mississippi. The foundation prioritizes improving the quality of early childhood centers and ensuring that youth thrive by third grade. The foundation has a website, but it is minimal. The foundation is open to contact.
BACKGROUND: Morgan Freeman was born in 1937 in Memphis, Tennessee, and was raised in Chicago and Mississippi. Freeman was interested in acting as a youth, but also wanted to be a fighter pilot. After high school in 1955, Freeman joined the U.S. Air Force. In 1959, Freeman left the Air Force and moved out west with Hollywood ambitions. In 1971, Freeman started appearing regularly on The Electric Company. Freeman has starred in such films as Shawshank Redemption, Se7en, and Driving Miss Daisy. Freeman won an Oscar for his role in Million Dollar Baby.
EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION: Morgan Freeman supports Mississippi in his philanthropy. The Tallahatchie River Foundation seeks to help such counties support their children. The foundation launched Tallahatchie Early Learning Alliance (TELA), which supports "community efforts to provide holistic assistance to young children in the county — training for excellent early childhood educators, resources to local schools and childcare providers, and support for new parents." The foundation is steered in part by Freeman's daughter, Morgana, who insists that kids must "thrive by third [grade]."
ARTS & CULTURE: Prior to Tallahatchie, the foundation was called the Rock River Foundation, through which Freeman also supported arts organizations like Mississippi Museum of Art and Charleston Arts and Revitalization Effort (CARE), created to foster "the economic development of Charleston, Mississippi through the arts while maintaining the heritage and valuable history of the community."
Freeman has a particular interest in blues music and co-owns a blues club in Clarksdale, Mississippi. He has supported places like Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival, and Yocona International Folk Festival.
OTHER: Freeman is a founder of PLAN!T NOW, "an organization focused on natural disaster preparedness." Freeman has also supported organizations including Artists for a New South Africa, Stand Up to Cancer and the Campaign for Female Education.
LOOKING FORWARD: Freeman is in his late 70s, and his philanthropy will likely remain largely regional. Also, keep in mind that Freeman may have other more direct ways of giving, and we may be missing some important grants.
The Tallahatchie River Foundation accepts applications at this address
Stuart J. Hammer
230 West 41st St., 1500
New York, NY 10036