Billionaire John Tu is one half of the cofounding duo beind Kingston Technology, a leading computer memory products manufacturer in Fountain Valley, California. Tu and his wife Mary live in the Los Angeles area, and do much of their giving through the John and Mary Tu Foundation. That giving has been increasing. Here's what we know about Tu Los Angeles philanthropy:
1. The Tus Have Been Huge Supporters of Freedom Writers
Does the title Freedom Writers ring a bell? If so, you're probably thinking of the 2007 movie starring Hilary Swank. Tu has been the primary benefactor of the inner-city education program Freedom Writers and the Freedom Writers Foundation from its inception in Long Beach, California in 1997. The overall mission of Freedom Writers is to improve the academic outlook for students in underserved communities by creating challenging curricula. The foundation also awards scholarships to first-generation high school graduates. On at least one occassion, Tu has donated computers to a Freedom Writers class.
2. The Couple's Education Philanthropy Appears to Be Expanding
While the Tus' relationship with Freedom Writers spans more than a decade, their money has also found its way to other Los Angeles education outfits, particularly of late. The Palos Verdes Peninsula Education Foundation, which supports the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District, received $25,000 in 2011 and $50,000 in 2013. The Tus live in Palos Verdes and perhaps one or more of their children attend a school in the area.
In higher education, $500,000 also recently went to Chapman University, and the UC Irvine Foundation received more than $400,000 in 2011. Tu is also famous for having donated $1.2 million to the University of California, Irvine, so that every incoming medical school student would receive an iPad. Yes, tech philanthropists often engage in tech philanthropy.
The so-called iMedEd Initiative at UC Irvine was first launched in 2010 and is supported by the John and Mary Tu Scholarship Fund.
3. Arts is Also an Interest of the Couple
Tu himself is an avid drummer in a band and his company Kingston is named after his favorite band in the 1960s. Nearly $370,000 went to Pacific Symphony in 2012. Los Angeles Ballet, Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, and South Coast Reperatory in Costa Mesa have also been recently supported.
The John and Mary Tu Foundation recently made around $2.2 million in grants, according to the latest tax information we have. This is notable because just a few years back, negligible sums were coming out of the outfit. It's unclear if an upward trend is taking place, but if so, Los Angeles is likely a top priority for the couple. Tu is worth $5 billion and is in his 70s, so we're betting that bigger giving lies ahead.