NET WORTH: $5.6 billion
SOURCE of WEALTH: National Amusements, CBS, Viacom
FUNDING AREAS: Health, Education, Global Development, Humanitarian Issues, Environment
OVERVIEW: Informed by personal battles with prostate cancer, and severe burns from a fire, much of Sumner Redstone’s giving has been directed toward health-related causes. He also has a particular interest in helping children, which can be seen in the organizations he chooses to fund, whether they are working on a local or a global level.
BACKGROUND: Sumner Redstone grew up in a Jewish family in Boston, where his father owned the Northeast Theater Corporation, which would eventually become National Amusements. Redstone attended Boston Latin, followed by Harvard. He served in the army during World War II as part of a unit that decoded Japanese messages, and then went to Georgetown Law, but transferred to Harvard to complete his law degree. After working in the U.S. Department of Justice for several years, he returned home to focus on the family business. In 1967, he took over as CEO, and built the company into a media empire by investing in companies such as Columbia Pictures, 20th Century Fox, and Paramount Pictures. In 1987, he staged a hostile takeover of Viacom, where he already owned significant interest. He then went on to purchase Paramount Communications, Blockbuster Entertainment, DreamWorks SKG (minus the DreamWorks animation studio), and CBS.
HEALTH: In 2007, Redstone announced a $70 million commitment to cancer research, split between FasterCures/The Center for Accelerating Medical Solutions, and the Cedars-Sinai Prostate Cancer Center, as well as a $35 million commitment to the Massachusetts General Hospital Burn Center. It was not the first gift to the Burn Center, either. In fact, he’s been making gifts to the hospital ever since being treated for severe burns there in 1979--gifts that were large enough that it’s been called the Sumner Redstone Burn Center since the early 1980s.
More recently, USC’s Keck School of Medicine has received $24 million for cancer research. The GW School of Public Health, meanwhile, is home to the Sumner M. Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness, which focuses on "evidence-based nutrition and physical activity strategies for the prevention and control of obesity."Redstone has also donated to Autism Speaks. Organizations such as the National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund, the Crohns and Colitis Foundation, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and AIDS Project Los Angeles have received smaller amounts.
GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT & HUMANITARIAN CAUSES: Redstone has contributed to the Global Poverty Project and the the Cambodian Children’s Fund for the creation and operation of the Sumner M. Redstone Child Rescue Center. He's also supported Children’s Rescue Association of North America, and Go Campaign, which helps orphans and needy children throughout the world.
EDUCATION: Redstone gave $18 million to the Boston University School of Law. Other grantees have included Literacy Inc., Manhattan College, and Kidnected World, which seeks to foster imagination, understanding, respect, and discovery in kids by creating tools and spaces where kids can connect and create projects for social good. Redstone has given $10 million to Harvard Law to create fellowships for students who work in public interest positions after graduating.
LOS ANGELES COMMUNITY: The Sumner Redstone Foundation has made smaller grants to everything from the SPCA to the Los Angeles Women’s Shakespeare Company, though the majority of these grants tend to go to organizations that focus on health, fitness, and education for kids. He’s also donated tens of millions to the Motion Picture and Television Fund Foundation.
ENVIRONMENT: Redstone, via his foundation, has been a strong supporter of Al Gore's Climate Reality Project. He's also supported Alliance for Climate Protection.
LOOKING FORWARD: Redstone’s daughter and heir apparent in business, Shari, is an active philanthropist, though most of his fortune will be transferred to non-revocable charitable trusts in the names of his grandchildren. The trusts are set up to ensure the family keeps controlling interest in their company, which may limit the amount of money that can be directed toward charitable causes. But if Redstone’s record is any indication, we should continue to see some significant giving as well. In fact, Redstone has been pushing a lot of money out the door in recent years.
Applications should be addressed to
Sumner M. Redstone
200 Elm Street Dedham MA 02026