As soon as Broadcom went public in 1998, Henry Samueli was rolling up $30 million and off-loading it to his alma mater, UCLA, to found the Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science. Shortly thereafter, he gave $20 million to UC Irvine to found an Engineering school there. And those first two gifts set a real precedent for the giving he’s undertaken since: He’s handed out over $285 million since 1999. And he’s signed the Giving Pledge in 2012.
Now, there are philanthropists, and there are philanthropists. Some talk the talk, and some walk the walk. Others are, as the popular saying goes, All hat and no cattle. Henry Samueli is serious. He not only clearly loves the feeling of sponsoring educational initiatives, he and his wife come from a Jewish community deeply committed to giving back. These two convenient traits, combined with wealth, have made Samueli and his wife two of the most generous tech philanthropists around. “Philanthropy has always been an important part of the Jewish culture in which we were raised and now raise our children,” says Samueli. “We firmly believe that as members of the community, we all have an opportunity and an obligation to give back in whatever way we can.”
The man has a definite sweet spot for education—especially innovation in education. Education is chief among the foundation’s grant programs, but even under the other three programs—Youth Services, Health, and Jewish Cultures and Values— a flair for education imbues everything the Foundation funds. “I owe my entire career to my education,” Samueli said. “Broadcom was founded based on the research I had done as a professor with my graduate students and all the knowledge I had gained.”
By far Samueli’s largest health-related gift was $5 million to help establish the Center for Integrative Medicine at UC Irvine—an initiative with a predictably strong teaching focus. He’s also given generously to the John Wayne Cancer Institute, and helped found the Samueli Institute for Information Biology. The man clearly favors funding initiatives that operate at the intersection of education and medicine, and he’s spiritually motivated with a heart of gold— so sound as altruistic as you can manage, appeal to his faith-based moorings, and teach, teach, teach.