NET WORTH: $10.2 billion
SOURCE OF WEALTH: DISH Network, EchoStar
FUNDING AREAS: Education & Youth, Health & Human Services, Global
OVERVIEW: Charles Ergen, his wife Cantey, and family conduct their philanthropy through the Telluray Foundation, which made around $1 million in grants in a recent year. Annual grantmaking has been considerably less in past years. Ergen supports his alma maters.
BACKGROUND: Born in Tennessee to a physicist father, Charles Ergen received a bachelor's degree from University of Tennessee Knoxville and an MBA from Wake Forest University in 1976. He considered becoming a professional poker and blackjack player. In 1980, he co-founded satellite broadcaster EchoStar Communications Corp., in Colorado, with his wife Cantey and friend James DeFranco. Ergen is also co-founder and chairman of satellite TV provider DISH Network.
EDUCATION & YOUTH: The Ergens recently gave a seven-figure grant to the University of Tennessee Foundation, via their charity. Other grantees include Wake Forest University, where Cantey is on the board; some of this grantmaking has been for field hockey at the school, where one of the couple's daughters played. They have also made grants to Young Life, whose mission is to "introduce adolescents to Jesus Christ and help them grow in their faith."
HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES: Cantey served as a member of the board of trustees of Children’s Hospital Colorado from 2001 to 2012 and is now an honorary lifetime member. The family supports the hospital. They have also supported Covenant House, Global Down Syndrome Foundation, National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
GLOBAL: The Ergens also support global organizations and Ergen is an avid mountain climber who has scaled Mount Everest. Grantees include Many Hats Institute (MHI), "a non profit dedicated to improving the conditions for children and youth worldwide."
LOOKING FORWARD: Expect the family to stick with their interests. Perhaps more money will move out the door in coming years. The couple's children—Chris, Courtney, and Kerry—may eventually take on a greater role in philanthropy.
The Telluray Foundation
Foundation Source, 501 Silverside Rd.
Wilmington, DE 19809