Phillip and Susan Ragon Foundation: Boston Grants

OVERVIEW: The Phillip and Susan Ragon Foundation is the charitable outfit of tech billionaire Phillip Ragon and his wife Susan. Much of the couple's philanthropy takes place in the Boston area, where the Ragons live and work.

FUNDING AREAS: Health, Education, Religious Institutions, Boston Community

IP TAKE: A centerpiece of the couple's philanthropy is the Ragon Institute of Harvard, MIT, and Massachusetts General Hospital, which focuses on HIV research. The foundation has no website and does not accept unsolicited requests.

PROFILE: Phillip Terry Ragon is the son of a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot. He grew up in variety of states and spent his senior year at a high school in Bogota, Colombia. Ragon graduated from MIT in 1971, and is the founder, CEO, and sole owner of InterSystems, a health database management services company. His net worth has been around $1.81 billion. Ragon's wife, Susan, is Vice President of Finance, Administration and Recruitment at InterSystems.

Intersystems is headquartered in Cambridge and the Ragons live in the Boston area. In 2003, the couple founded the Phillip and Susan Ragon Foundation, which makes a lot of its grants in and around Boston. With some exception years, like 2013 when $6.7 million in grants was made, past grantmaking has generally totaled under $500,000 annually. Mind you, we're just talking about the foundation. The Ragons have been involved in charity in other ways as well.

The Phillip and Susan Ragon Foundation has supported a number of Boston-based churches and religious outfits. Recent money has gone to St. Peters Parish, St. Mary of the Sacred Heart Church, Cathedral of the Holy Cross, among several others. Many of these institutions have been funded on an annual basis, though grants for each rarely exceed $50,000 a year. 

Insights about Ragon's dedication to religious organizations may come from the couple's support of Instituto San Pablo Apostol, a religious school in Bogota which received nearly half a million in 2013 and more modest support in prior years. It's unclear if this is the school that Ragon himself attended, but it's clear that Ragon's experiences as a student in Colombia influenced him: "Why did I have so many privileges and they had none?" 

Ragon's experiences abroad aren't just limited to Colombia, either. He's said that a trip to South Africa allowed him to see the ravages of AIDS firsthand, and in 2009, Ragon and Susan established the Ragon Institute in partnership with Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard and his alma mater MIT, to pursue the development of an HIV vaccine. The couple has pledged $100 million over a ten-year period toward the project, which is focused on finding a vaccine for the disease, as well as other autoimmune diseases.

The couple's commitment to Massachussetts General Hospital (MGH) started even before the Ragon Institute. At least $2 million went to the hospital in 2007, and at least $4 million went to the hospital in 2008. Ragon is currently a trustee at MGH and also served as co-chair of the MGH campaign.

Other Boston health outfits that have seen support recently include the Joslin Diabetes Center and Boston Children’s Hospital Trust. The Boston location of Oxfam-America also recently saw support from the Ragons.

Unsurprisingly, Ragon has been involved with his alma mater, MIT. He's a member of the MIT Corporation, the governing body of MIT, and chairs the Visiting Committee that reviews the Physics Department. MIT received $6 million in a recent year.

The couple has also been a steady supporter of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and the Boys and Girls Club in Boston.

The Ragon Foundation doesn't have a website, and doesn't accept unsolicted requests.

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CONTACT:

Phillip and Susan Ragon Foundation
P.O. Box 380281
Cambridge, MA 02238
(617) 225-3001