NET WORTH: $3.7 billion
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Director and Producer, cofounder of Dreamworks Studios
FUNDING AREAS: Health, Jewish Causes, Arts, Education & Youth, Environment & Animals
OVERVIEW: Steven Spielberg started his grantmaking early, but prefers to keep a low profile. He does his grantmaking the Righteous Persons Foundation, which prioritizes Jewish causes, as well as the Wunderkinder Foundation, which funds a range of causes often in Los Angeles and New York. Spielberg also makes grants anonymously.
BACKGROUND: After failing to get into USC film school, Steven Spielberg got his start as an unpaid intern in the editing department of Universal. The list of films Spielberg has directed and produced includes Jaws, E.T., Jurrassic Park, Indiana Jones, Schindler’s List, The Color Purple, and Saving Private Ryan. He founded Dreamworks Animation with Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen.
JEWISH CAUSES: After directing Schindler's List, Spielberg started several foundations to support the Jewish community and survivors of the Holocaust, saying he could not keep the profits from the movie “because it was blood money.” Instead, he used it to create the Righteous Persons Foundation, which donates money to Jewish organizations and historical projects that relate to the Holocaust, and the Shoah Foundation, which has collected over 50,000 testimonials of people who lived through the Holocaust or experienced it firsthand, including Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, and other minorities; it is now focused on its new mission of overcoming prejudice, intolerance, and bigotry, and continues to produce educational materials. Righteous Persons Foundation grantees have included JCC Manhattan; Auburn, which "brings together religious leaders of Jewish, Christian, Muslim and other faiths to advance their leadership skills, raise their visibility, and work across religious divides on the key social justice issues of our time"; and One Table, an "organization dedicated to spreading the practice of Shabbat."
HEALTH: In 1997, Spielberg made a grant to the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in West Hollywood for pediatric medicine in an amount that was significant enough to get the hospital to name a wing of the building after him. He is also the Chairman Emeritus for the STARBRIGHT Foundation, which is dedicated to the development of projects that empower seriously ill children to combat the medical and emotional challenges they face. Via the Wunderkinder Foundation, Spielberg has supported places like American Heart Association, Children's Diabetes Foundation, Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles, Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation, and the UCLA Foundation towards medical research.
ARTS & CULTURE: The Museum of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has received at least $10 million from Spielberg. He has also made donations to the Film Foundation. Past Wunderkinder Foundation grantees include The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles, Tribeca Film Institute, and Friends of the Brentwood Arts Center. In 2012, Spielberg pledged $30 million to the Motion Picture and Television Fund Foundation, where he serves on the board.
EDUCATION & YOUTH: Wunderkinder Foundation grantees include American Film Institute, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles, Campbell Hall, Children's Defense Fund, and the USC School of Cinematic Arts.
ENVIRONMENT & ANIMALS: Spielberg, via Wunderkinder, has supported places like Peconic Land Trust Incorporated, The Nature Conservancy, and Angel City Pit Bulls.
LOOKING FORWARD: Spielberg likely has a significant amount of grantmaking left to do. And he is not getting any younger, either, so expect his grantmaking to start picking up significantly before too long.
The Wunderkinder Foundation does not provide a clear avenue to get in touch with Spielberg but below is an address
The Wunderkinder Foundation
11400 W. Olympic Blvd, No 550
Los Angeles, CA 90064