How These Screen Legends Are Giving Away a Hollywood Fortune

Hollywood mega-stars Anne and Kirk Douglas have been married for more than 60 years, and in that time have each produced and starred in lengthy lists of blockbuster movies and TV shows. They weren't working at today's payscales, with which actors can amass huge historic fortunes, but they made plenty of money anyway. Drawing on that wealth, they launched the Kirk and Anne Douglas Foundation, which they run from their home in Beverly Hills with one simple, stated mission: “to help those who cannot otherwise help themselves.” If that sounds broad, it is. Children, the elderly, and other populations in between fall under their umbrella of giving. But it’s only so broad: The Douglases confine their giving to causes in the Los Angeles area and the neighboring Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

The Douglas Foundation’s grantmaking goes in two general directions. Youth-centered services are the first of these. The foundation says its primary focus is on “improving the education and health, fostering the well-being, and most importantly developing new opportunities for the children who hold our future in their hands.”    

Putting its money where its (virtual) mouth is, the foundation funded renovations of the Sinai Temple of Los Angeles’ pre-school and day care facility in 2013. Douglas also committed $3 million to buy a surgical robot for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. And it sponsors the repairs and rejuvenations of dozens of school playgrounds every year through its Recreation & Playground Awards program.

A second chunk of Douglas funding supports innovations in health care. It issued a big grant, for example, to the Heart Foundation, a group that both educates the public about heart-disease prevention and facilitates new research into therapies that could restore heart health. And it gave Santa Barbara Cotta Hospital’s Neuroscience Institute funding to develop new technologies for more safely treating strokes.

It’s also been a sponsor of the Motion Picture & Television Fund, a health care provider that offers hospital care and retirement facilities to Hollywood’s seniors. This one makes a lot of sense, considering that the Douglases are film stars themselves. They are basically looking after their own.

Douglas has additionally given grants to an Entertainment Industry Foundation program called the Women’s Cancer Research Fund. This program, which Anne Douglas personally founded, raises about $12 million a year to foster research and development of diagnoses, treatments, and prevention strategies for all types of women’s cancers.

There are a few more things that you should know about Douglas grants. First, you can only get one once. According to its website, this foundation does not give any grantee recurring, year-after-year support.

Also, not just anyone can apply for a grant. The website states that grantees either get an initial invitation from Douglas to apply, or they are referred by one of the organizations with which Douglas partners and then get an invitation to apply. Either way, the next step after receiving the invitation is to send Douglas a letter of inquiry. If Douglas likes the letter and wants to see more, it will let you know.

The website says nothing about applying to Douglas out of the blue, so we will have to assume that that is not an option. As such, networking is obviously the key to getting a grant from Douglas. But let’s be honest: Isn’t networking the key to getting just about anything done in Hollywood?