Sheldon Adelson

NET WORTH: $28 billion

SOURCE OF WEALTH: Chairman and CEO, Las Vegas Sands

JEWISH FUNDING AREAS: Holocaust and Anti-Semitism Awareness, Israel Advocacy and Defense, Israel Studies, Jewish and Zionist Identity & Education

OVERVIEW: Founded last decade by Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, the Adelson Family Foundation focuses its support primarily on programs that benefit the State of Israel and the Jewish people. The foundation gave away close to $100 million in a recent fiscal year. The foundation does not currently accept unsolicited proposals.

BACKGROUND: Born in 1933, Sheldon Adelson grew up sleeping on the floor of a Boston tenement house and bought his first newspaper corner with a small loan from his uncle when he was twelve. Adelson attended City College of New York but did not finish. In 1995, Adelson sold the Comdex tech conference for $862 million and then spent $1.5 billion building the Venetian hotel and casino in Las Vegas. In his 80s, the casino mogul still helms Las Vegas Sands.

FUNDING PROFILE: The Adelson Family Foundation is one of Adelson's philanthropic vehicles. Another is laser-focused on medical research. The Adelson Family Foundation is concerned with Jewish causes around the world. Adelson takes a decidedly pro-Israel stance, and this reflects in he and his wife Miriam's philanthropy. The Adelson Family Foundation supports charitable organizations located primarily in Israel and the United States. This includes funding of Israel Advocacy and Defense, Israel Studies, Holocaust and Anti-Semitism Awareness, among others. 

Birthright Israel is a major grantee. The couple via their foundation have given tens of millions to the organization. Another youth outfit that the Adelsons have funded is B'nai B'rith Youth Organization. The Adelsons also founded the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Educational Campus in Las Vegas, "the only school in Nevada built on the Jewish ethos of community, service, innovation and discourse." The school offers classes from classes from 18 months through 12th grade. Other education grantees include a mix of Israel and U.S. outfits, including American Friends of Ariel University, which supports Ariel University in Israel; Gateways Access to Jewish Education, which offers programs and services to children with special needs and educational challenges in Greater Boston's Jewish day schools; Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School in Palo Alto; Metrowest Jewish Day School; and Rashi School in the Boston Area.

A number of organizations that Adelson funds aim to shift policy and attitudes around Israel and the Jewish people. These include Christians United for Israel, "an American pro-Israel Christian organization that defines itself as "a national grassroots movement focused on the support of Israel;" Endowment for Middle East Truth, a "Washington, D.C. based think tank and policy center with an unabashedly pro-America and pro-Israel stance;" Friends of Israel Initiative; Middle East Media and Research Institute; This World The Jewish Values Network; and Rethink Israel Initiative, a media effort to bolster the perception of the State of Israel.

Adelson and Miriam have also given millions to SpaceIL, an Israeli nonprofit founded by three young engineers at the end of 2010, answering the Google Lunar XPRIZE challenge. They've also supported US Holocaust Museum and Friends of Israeli Defense Force, among others. 

LOOKING FORWARD: One of the richest individuals in the world, Adelson's support of Jewish causes around the world should be watched carefully. Expect him to stay focused on these causes in the coming years.


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