If you follow celebrity news, you may be familiar with Eric Trump from his recent marriage to Lara Yunaska, an associate producer for the CBS television news show Inside Edition. “The bride wore a strapless, ruffled Vera Wang gown as she her groom exchanged vows at the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea,” according to People—the same place that Dad and Melaina Trump were wed in 2005.
But celebrity weddings aside, Eric Trump is the founder of the Eric Trump Foundation, a foundation that has donated over $28 million to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in California. Not to mention that he’s Donald’s heir, but that’s an obvious one.
St. Jude is an interesting place, and you can see what would capture a donor's attention, even one who lived across the country. The hospital says about itself:
Discoveries made here have completely changed how the world treats children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases. With research and patient care under one roof, St. Jude is where some of today's most gifted researchers are able to do science more quickly.
While Donald Trump is not well known for his philanthropy, Eric is tackling the business of giving head-on at a pretty early age, something we're seeing more of these days, both with heirs like Eric Trump and a host of young entrepreneurs.
Trump was born in New York City and attended Trinity School. He joined the Trump Organization in 2006, right after graduating from Georgetown with a degree in finance and management.
So other than St. Jude, what is Eric Trump interested in funding through his foundation? Well, a look at the foundation's 990 for 2013 reveals modest gifts going out to a number of organizations. Operation Smile got $10,000. The Staten Island Zoological Society got the same amount, as did the Tikva Children's Home. The George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts, which advocates for the arts in the development of youth, got $25,000.
But none of that should obscure the fact that St. Jude is the main focus of Eric Trump's charitable work. In fact, Trump, also known as the executive vice president of development and acquisitions at the Trump Organization, established his foundation in 2006 (at the age of 22!) specifically to raise money for St. Jude.
“Through direct personal involvement and financial assistance, we strive to advance the medical and emotional needs of terminally ill children and demand that our monetary donations are transformed into real results at St. Jude,” reads a foundation statement.
Just recently, in 2015, the Eric Trump Foundation Surgical and ICU Center, a $20 million state-of-the-art medical center was opened at St. Jude. This center expands current surgery space by over 50 percent and implements new technology, like micro-cameras and observation classrooms connected to surgical suites.
In a recent star-studded spectacle, the seventh annual Eric Trump Foundation Golf Invitational held at the Trump National Golf Club in Briarcliff Manor in New York, Eric’s foundation raised $1.5 million for St. Jude. Golf is a big part of Eric’s philanthropy, and each year, the foundation hosts several golf tournaments to benefit St. Jude at Trump Golf Clubs in Los Angeles, New York, Washington, D.C., and Miami.
So for now at least, Eric Trump doesn’t seem interested in broadening his philanthropic endeavors or considering any other grantees besides St. Jude’s. But he’s young, and things could certainly change as his foundation grows and evolves over the years. There are certainly lots of other hospitals and nonprofits assisting children with life-threatening diseases that would love to get in touch with the young Trump as well, in New York and around the world. However, St. Jude is unique in that it’s the only pediatric cancer research center where families never pay for treatment not covered by insurance.
Like most Trump endeavors, Eric’s foundation is not a one-man show. There are actually 23 members on his executive committee. Eric has appointed each one of these members and requires each of them to raise a mandatory minimum of $10,000 per year for St. Jude’s.
It's worth noting Eric is also on the board of the Donald Trump Foundation. And what's that foundation up to? In 2013, Donald Trump gave away nearly a million dollars through the foundation to a wide variety of charitable organizations, with less of a New York focus than you might expect.
But with a $4 billion Trump fortune waiting in the wings, we're betting that some serious Trump family philanthropy lies ahead. We'd also bet that Eric will have a growing hand in where the money goes.
To keep up with what Eric is doing with his giving, you can follow the foundation's Facebook page and LinkedIn page. You can also reach out to Lynne Patton, the foundation coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org with general questions.