NET WORTH: $1.21 billion
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Steinhardt Partners L.P
JEWISH FUNDING AREAS: Israel, Jewish Youth & Community, Religious
OVERVIEW: Michael Steinhardt, his wife Judy, and family are active philanthropists. The Steinhardts move their philanthropy through several charitable vehicles, but a common thread is Jewish causes. Steinhardt is a cofounder of Birthright Israel and also established the Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life.
BACKGROUND: A native of Brooklyn, Michael Steinhardt graduated from Wharton in 1960. He began his career on Wall Street in research and analyst positions with Calvin Bullock and Loab Rhoades & Co. In 1967, Steinhardt, along with Howard Berkowitz and Jerrold Fine, formed hedge fund company Steinhardt, Fine, Berkowitz & Co. In 1979, Berkowitz and Fine left the partnership, which was then renamed as Steinhardt Partners.
STEINHARDT FOUNDATION FOR JEWISH LIFE: In 1995, Steinhardt closed his hedge fund to focus on supporting Jewish causes around the world. To that end, he founded the Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life (SFJL), whose aim is to foster the "emergence of a thriving, dynamic and creative Jewish community whose contributions to American culture are informed and inspired by distinctive Jewish values that are fully compatible with life in the open society." SFJL provides a comprehensive description of its vision, and includes this question: "At a time when American culture has been seeded so thoroughly with Jewish ideas, values and norms, why be Jewish at all? It is the job of the Jewish community to provide these reasons." The foundation has a strong web presence, though does not currently accept unsolicited proposals. The foundation has a list of primary areas of focus as well as a selected list of ongoing partnerships.
SFJL states that it typically "focuses on large-scale initiatives designed to revitalize the infrastructure of American Jewish life." SFJL's work includes support of Hebrew Language Charter Schools, The Areivim Hebrew at Camp Program and Jewish Early Childhood Education Initiative. The foundation has also supported Hillel, Steinhardt Hall, and the Jewish Renaissance Project, all at UPenn, Steinhardt's alma mater. Brandeis, meanwhile, is the site of the Steinhardt Social Research Institute, and NYU's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development works in Jewish education, too.
OTHER: Michael Steinhardt cofounded Taglit Birthright Israel with Charles Bronfman so that young Jews could visit their ancestral homeland. Since its inception in December 1999, Birthright Israel has sent over 500,000 Jewish young adults to Israel. The Steinhardts have given millions to Birthright over the years.
Steinhardt also supports the Jewish community via The Judy and Michael Steinhardt Foundation and the Steinhardt Family Foundation, two under-the-radar vehicles. The Judy and Michael Steinhardt Foundation's grantees have included congregations like B'nai Jeshurun, as well as places like the Israel Institute, the Jerusalem Foundation, The Jewish High School of Connecticut, and This World: The Jewish Values Network. The Steinhardt Family Foundation funds educational programs for children in Israel.
LOOKING FORWARD: In his 70s, Steinhardt is running a robust philanthropic operation. Expect plenty more money to stream to Jewish causes in coming years. For a complete overview of this funder, read our Wall Street Profile of
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The Judy and Michael Steinhardt Foundation and The Steinhardt Family Foundation do not provide clear avenues of contact but below are addresses:
The Judy and Michael Steinhardt Foundation
712 5th Ave., 34th Fl.
New York City, NY 10019
Steinhardt Family Foundation
650 Madison Ave., 17th Fl.
New York City, NY 10022