Comedian and longtime talk show host Jay Leno made a lot of money during his stint at the Tonight Show—amassing a net worth of $350 million, according to some estimates. In an era of super-sized compensation for entertainers, we're seeing more sizeable fortunes like this. And, not surprisingly, we're also seeing more philanthropy by mega-stars, both active and retired. Which is why Inside Philanthropy has a whole section devoted to these givers, as well as the producers and moguls who often have even bigger fortunes.
Leno moves his philanthropy through the JDM Foundation, founded in 1988. While the foundation doesn't have much of a web presence, or a clear avenue for grantseekers to get in touch, here are a few must-knows about Leno's philanthropy:
1. Leno Has Supported a Number of Colleges and Universities
Leno got his B.A. from Emerson College in Massachusetts before moving to Los Angeles. Interestingly enough, grantmaking through the JDM Foundation in this area hasn't really involved Emerson, at least of late, according to 990s. Instead, quite a handful of colleges and universities across the country have been modestly supported. Sometimes, there's a regional or personal interest. Middlesex Community College in Bedford, Massachusetts, for instance, received a $29,000 grant from the JDM Foundation in 2013. Leno's wife Mavis has delivered the commencement speech at the college and the Lenos have given at least $160,000 to some 100 female students for scholarships. Recent support has also gone to Boston University, McPherson College and Northeastern University, among others.
McPherson College in Kansas, in case you didn't know, is the only college that offers a B.A. in Restoration Technology and Leno has quite the penchant for cars, with 130 cars and 93 motorcycles in his airport hangar as of last year, according to the Los Angeles Times. The McPherson College Automotive Restoration Technology program has been supported by Leno for years.
2. The Lenos Have Also Supported Women's Rights
Leno's wife Mavis takes the lead in this area as a prominent feminist in California. Recent sums have gone to the Feminist Majority Foundation, where Mavis sits on the board and chairs the Feminist Majority’s Campaign for Afghan Women and Girls. Support has also recently gone to Equality Now, an "international human rights organization dedicated to action for the civil, political, economic and social rights of girls and women." It's also worth noting that recent higher education grants have gone to Mt. Holyoke College and Wellesley College, two of the original Seven Sister Schools.
3. Assorted Sums Have Gone Elsewhere
Protecting and supporting animals is another interest, and recent money has gone to Elayne Boosler's Tails of Joy in Los Angeles County, which gives "funds for the smallest, neediest rescue organizations all across the United States and beyond." Sums have also gone to the American Humane Society and Fix Nation, whose goal is to reduce the number of homeless cats. Assorted sums have gone to health outfits like St. Baldrick's Foundation.
Related: Jay Leno Profile