Michael Milken

NET WORTH: $2.5 billion

SOURCE OF WEALTH: Drexel Burnham, bonds and securities

JEWISH FUNDING AREAS: Health & Human Services, Education & Youth, Cultural 

OVERVIEW: Michael Milken cofounded the Milken Family Foundation with his brother Lowell, who actually takes the lead in much of the family's philanthropy. The Milken brothers via their foundation support Jewish causes, though many grants are under $10,000 in this area. One big initiative is the Milken Archive of Jewish Music. Another is the Jewish Educator Awards. The foundation has a strong web presence but doesn't accept unsolicited proposals. 

BACKGROUND: Michael Milken grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles, did his undergrad at UC Berkeley, and earned an MBA from the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania. He started his career in finance as an intern at investment bank Drexel Harriman Ripley, which merged to form Drexel Burnham, at which time Milken was running a division focused on low-grade bonds. 


HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES: Michael Milken was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the 1990s, which provided the impetus for him to create the Prostate Cancer Foundation and has had other strong influences on his philanthropy. This influence may play a role Milken's support of health and human services outfits in the Jewish community. Grantees have included Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services; Bet Tzedek Legal Services; Hadassah, which "connects Jewish women and empowers them to effect change through advocacy, advancing health and well-being"; Sheba Medical Center; American Friends of Western Galilee Hospital; and Jewish Healing Center Los Angeles. 

EDUCATION & YOUTH: Lowell Milken cofounded the Jewish Educator Awards, to "support and spotlight K-12 teachers, administrators and other education professionals who are making outstanding contributions to the Jewish and secular education of students in BJE (Builders of Jewish Education)-affiliated day schools across Greater Los Angeles." Via the Milken Family Foundation, the Milkens have also supported outfits like Sinai Akiba Academy, Hebrew Union College, Hillel The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, Camp Ramah in California, American Friends of Tel Aviv University, Bar Ilan University of Israel, Bishop Amat High School, American Jewish University, and BJE. 

CULTURAL: In 1990, Lowell Milken founded the Milken Archive of Jewish Music, the "largest collection of American Jewish music ever assembled—more than 700 recorded works, including over 500 world premiere recordings." The archive has received tens of millions from the Milken Family Foundation. The Milkens have also funded outfits like Zimmer Jewish Discovery Children's Museum, American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, a community organization which has received especially strong support. 

LOOKING FORWARD: Expect Milken to continue to support the Jewish community, though he has other priority areas. For more about this funder, read our Wall Street Profile of Michael Milken


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