NET WORTH: NA
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Comcast
FUNDING AREAS: Arts & Culture, Philadelphia Community
OVERVIEW: Although the Ralph and Suzanne Roberts Foundation typically only distributed $1 million to $2 million in grants per year on average, the organization has supported dozens of arts and community organizations in the Philadelphia area, most notably theater groups.
BACKGROUND: Roberts grew up just outside New York City, and moved to Philadelphia before graduating high school. He attended the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, served in the Navy for four years, and then worked a series of jobs that eventually led him to purchase small television companies that serviced rural areas. In 1963, he and partners Daniel Aaron and Julian Brodsky bought a cable TV provider in Mississippi, which they eventually transformed into the Comcast Corporation. Roberts served as the CEO for 46 years, before handing the company over to his son Brian. Roberts passed away in 2015.
ARTS & CULTURE: Roberts served on the boards of the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Brandywine River Museum and Conservancy, and the Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition. The Brandywine Conservancy received more than $1 million over the years, and the orchestra has fared similarly. The couple supported dozens of community arts groups every year, mostly theater groups, with most of the grants ranging between $1,000 and $20,000, though they did make large enough contributions to the Philadelphia Theater Company to get its building named after Suzanne.
PHILADELPHIA COMMUNITY: In addition to the couple’s theater support, Roberts was on on the PENN Medicine Board of Trustees, and made pretty sizeable donations to the Philadelphia chapter of the United Way.
HEALTH: Suzanne gave a $2 million gift to Johns Hopkins to establish the Roberts Native American Dream Fund at the school’s Center for American Indian Health.
LOOKING FORWARD: Ralph Roberts passed away in June 2015. In 2016, Suzanne received a $490 million payout to settle an outstanding life insurance commitment. Expect Suzanne’s grantmaking to continue, especially her theater support through the Suzanne Roberts Cultural Development Fund.
Ralph and Suzanne Roberts Foundation
℅ Comcast Corp
1701 John F. Kennedy, 52nd Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19103