NET WORTH: Unknown
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Argent Ventures
JEWISH FUNDING AREAS: Youth, Education, Religious
OVERVIEW: Andrew Penson and his wife Shannon move their philanthropy through the AGT Penson Foundation Trust. The couple via their foundation focus almost exclusively on Jewish organizations, giving to mixture of relgious, educational, and community organizations. The couple keeps a low profile and their foundation does not appear to accept unsolicited proposals.
BACKGROUND: A native New Yorker, Andrew Penson earned a B.A. from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and a J.D. from New York Law School. He practiced law at Jones Day and later led the real estate investment division of Amroc Investments. Penson founded Argent Ventures, whose acquisitions include Grand Central Terminal in New York and the Capital Records Building in Hollywood, California.
FUNDING PROFILE: Andrew Penson is an Orthodox Jew who, according to one source, pledged to give to charity more than 50% of his profit from the sale of Grand Central's air rights. Of his commitment to the Jewish community, Penson has said that charity is "mandated in our religion." Penson and his wife Shannon's philanthropy via their AGT Penson Foundation Trust focuses almost exclusively on Jewish causes. The foundation makes dozens of grants annually, amounting to a few million in grantmaking annually. Many grants are under $20,000.
One area of support is Jewish religious institutions. The Pensons via their foundation have helped fund outfits like Mount Kisco Hebrew Congregation, Congregation Binai Torah, Congregation Tiferes Tzvi, Congregation Yeshiva Yad Moishe, Congregation Ohav Sholom and American Friends of Yaddir Torah .
The family also supports a number of Jewish educational institutions, mainly of the day school variety. Grantees have included Beth Jacob Parochial School, Yashiva Bais Binyomin, Yeshiva Moreshes Yehoshua High School, Manhattan Day School, Dallas Torah Institute, and Menachem Education Foundation, whose goal is to facilitate "elevated learning opportunities in the Jewish world."
The Pensons also give to Jewish youth organizations like Heritage Retreats, which allows "Jewish university students and young professionals from diverse backgrounds to come together;" Ohr Somayach International, which "gives Diaspora youth coming to Israel in search of their roots a chance to experience Jewish learning in their own language;" Holy Woman Foundation, a food and enrichment program for needy Jewish girls, aged 6-14, from dysfunctional families in Jerusalem; and Manhattan Jewish Experience, a young professionals program.
LOOKING FORWARD: Penson certainly appears committed this cause, and he's still very much engaged in business, too. Expect plenty more money to move out of this foundation in coming years.
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AGT Penson Foundation Trust does not provide a clear avenue of contact but below is an address:
AGT Penson Foundation Trust
551 5th Ave., 34th Fl.
New York City, NY 10176