A Children's Champion: How Harvey Najim Does His Philanthropy

The first in his family to go to college, Harvey E. Najim graduated from University of Wichita with a B.A. in mathematics in 1964. Najim spent more than a decade at IBM Corporation before founding Star Data Systems in 1980. In 1993, Najim renamed his company Sirius Computer Solutions, which has grown into one of the largest IT solutions integrators in the United States. Sirius is headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, and posted 2012 revenues of approximately $1.3 billion.

In 2006, Najim negotiated a big business deal that wound up making him a lot of money, money he reportedly didn't need. That's when Najim started thinking, "What did I want to have accomplished when I leave this world?’" The answer? Philanthropy, with an injection of $75 million to create the Najim Family Foundation. In the summer of 2010, Najim added another $7 million to the foundation in honor of his 70th birthday and another $2 million soon after. Najim has also pledged another $125 million to the foundation within three to five years. Since 2007, the Najim Family Foundation and Najim have given out approximately $65 million in grants and pledges to close to 200 different organizations.

Since its inception, the Najim Family Foundation has supported "various public charities in Greater San Antonio that advance children’s education, children’s medical treatment, medical research for illnesses and diseases affecting children, and other children’s charitable purposes." As Najim puts it, all children need is "someone to believe in 'em." Given Najim's own background as a first-generation college graduate who has gone enjoyed tremendous success, this focus makes sense. And the good news is that the Najim Family Foundation is accessible, with a helpful website and several staff. The foundation is also open to LOIs.

Recent money out of the foundation's "Medical Needs and Medical Research" grantmaking category has gone to outfits such as National Kidney Foundation, Epilepsy Foundation, Down Syndrome Association, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International, American Cancer Society, Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central and South Texas, and Transplants for Children. CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System received $3 million in 2013, and Santa Rosa Children's Hospital in San Antonio received $250,000 in the 2013 fiscal year.

The Najim Family Foundation has also supported children through two grantmaking categories: Child Abuse & Neglect and Improving the Lives of Children. Recent support includes Child Advocates San Antonio (CASA), Dallas Children's Advocacy Center, Family Violence Prevention Services, Presbyterian Children's Homes and Services, Boysville (a comprehensive, residential care facility in south Texas, providing support and a home for children,) and SAMMinistries, which tackles homelessness in San Antonio. In 2014, Najim chaired the annual United Way Campaign, helping the organization raise a record-breaking $55 million.

Najim also helped create the Harvey E. Najim Hope Center at the San Antonio Children's Shelter, described as "a specialized outpatient mental health clinic that provides accessible mental health services for children and families as a result of abuse, neglect, and/or abandonment." The Hope Center officially opened its doors in October of 2015.

Other funds have been earmarked for education outfits, with recent grantees including the University of Texas Foundation, Idea Public Schools (which received a $115,000 grant in the 2013 fiscal year), Junior Achievement of South Texas, various Texas chapters of the dropout prevention organization Communities in Schools, and KIPP Aspire Academy, which received $200,000 in the 2013 fiscal year.

The Najim Family Foundation also funds organizations that support children with developmental disabilities. Grantees include special education school The Arc of San Antonio, Any Baby Can Austin and Any Baby Can San Antonio, which offer "a wide variety of services to serve families of children with chronic illness or disability," Kinetic Kids, which provides therapy services to children with special needs, and Autism Community Network.

Those in the San Antonio area working within these areas of interest should keep Najim on their radar. Finally, it's worth mentioning that Najim's wife Nancy is the president and CEO of the San Antonio Humane Society, so perhaps some animal philanthropy is down the line, too.

Related: Harvey E. Najim

Related: Najim Family Foundation: Texas Grants