Lowell Milken, Milken Family Foundation and Lowell Milken Family Foundation

TITLE: Chairman and Co-Founder, Milken Family Foundation; Founder, Lowell Milken Family Foundation

FUNDING AREAS: Education, medical research, Jewish music

CONTACT: lmilken@mff.org, (310) 570-4800

IP TAKE: Milken is a philanthropy entrepreneur who concentrates his funding mostly on initiatives he created to reward outstanding students and teachers, but he does support individual charter schools.

PROFILE: Lowell Milken’s approach to education philanthropy is a simple one: identify and honor excellent students and teachers, and provide opportunities to foster the best practices in classroom instruction. As chairman and co-founder of the Milken Family Foundation, and founder of the Lowell Milken Family Foundation, Milken has created awards programs for educators, scholarship programs, and program for teacher recruitment and advancement. For his work with the Milken Family Foundation (which he established with his famous/infamous brother, Michael), Milken also funds medical research and has created an extensive archive that documents Jewish music. 

Lowell Milken is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley’s School of Business Administration and received his law degree from the University of California at Los Angeles.

One of the largest initiatives funded by Lowell Milken is the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET). He founded NIET as an organization to support TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement, a program he developed to attract and retain outstanding teachers. NIET also collaborates with states, school districts, and individual campuses to craft teacher effectiveness policies.

Beyond these initiatives, Milken also has funded individual high schools, including a charter school. Lowell Milken High Teach Los Angeles is a charter high school that emphasizes technology education. In addition, Milken founded the Milken Community High School, a private high school that emphasizes science, technology, and Jewish values.

While Milken appears to fund mostly initiatives created by the foundation itself, charter school operators should note that Milken has championed individual charter schools, albeit at smaller funding amounts. Past recipients of Milken Foundation grants have included the Birmingham Community Charter High School in southern California, the D.C. Preparatory Academy in Washington, D.C., and the Oakland School for the Arts in Oakland, CA.

His philanthropy does not come without blowback. In 2011, when he donated $10 million to the UCLA School of Law, it re-igned memories of his brother Michael's fiscal malfeance. It's a complicated issue for those on the receiving end of his giving.