Bernard and Lisa Selz

NET WORTH: Unknown


FUNDING AREAS: Higher Education, Arts & Historic Preservation, Policy, Human Services, Animals & Environment, K-12 Education, Health

OVERVIEW: Bernard Selz and his wife Lisa move their philanthropy through the Selz Foundation, which in a recent fiscal year held close to $173 million in assets and gave away around $12 million. The couple's philanthropy is extensive and varied, and the Selz Foundation made more than 120 grants in a recent year. Interests include higher education, the arts, historic preservation, and policy. The couple collects pieces from the Middle Ages and much of their higher education work has focused on supporting social sciences, including archeology. Selz's board memberships include the World Monuments Fund. The foundation only disperses grants to pre-selected organizations.

BACKGROUND: Bernard Selz graduated with a degree from Columbia University in 1960. He worked with companies like Lazard Frères and Furman Selz before establishing Selz Capital. Selz and Lisa are based in New York. 


HIGHER EDUCATION: Bernard and Lisa Selz have endowed professorships and lectures at several colleges and universities. Much of this work is centered around social sciences, namely archaeology. The couple endowed professorships at Columbia in medieval art, as well as pre-Columbian art and archaeology, and a lecture at the Pratt Institute, alma mater of the foundation's vice president, architect Arnold Syrop. Other philanthropy includes a conservation fellowship at NYU Institute of Fine Arts. These institutions have all recently seen support from the couple via their foundation. Columbia received a $765,000 grant recently.

The couple has also recently supported schools like College of the Redwoods in Eureka, California, where funds supported research on the Mayans; Bard Graduate Center; and Goucher College, Lisa's alma mater. There's a Goucher Prison Education Partnership, which the Selz Foundation supports; Hunter College; Institute for the Study of the Ancient World; adult education school Ackerman Institute for the Family; and Marymount Manhattan College. Another important grantee here is LaGuardia Community College, which received a $1 million grant from the Selz couple in 2014. Lisa Selz sits on the board of the community college and, somewhat uniquely among philanthropists, believes in the importance of these two-year institutions.

ARTS, CULTURE & HISTORIC PRESERVATION: Selz and Lisa are collectors of pieces from the Middle Ages and have a strong interest in the period, as well as in antiquity and Native American history. Museums and performing arts institutions also appear to be of interest, as well as film. Recent grantees reflect these various interests and include Brooklyn Museum, Dallas Museum, American Classical Orchestra, Jacob Burns Film Center, Livingston Center for Arts & Culture in Montana, National Museum of the American Indian, Penn Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology, The Frick Collection, Foundation for Anthropological Research, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, and Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, where Selz is a trustee.

Internationally, the couple supports Friends of the Musee Des Arts and Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archeology at Oxford University. Selz and Lisa were lead supporters of new galleries of Ancient Egypt and Nubia at Ashmolean Museum. In 2009, the Selzes gave a $1.21 million gift to the World Monuments Fund, where Selz sits on the board of trustees. The Selz Foundation steadily funds World Monuments Fund, and a lot of this work recently has to do with preservation and conservation work in Peru.

POLICY: The couple supports organizations like Cato Institute, the Manhattan Institute, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), Drug Policy Alliance, Empire Center for Public Policy, and Institute for Justice. Institute for Justice describes itself as the "nation's only libertarian, civil liberties, public interest law firm." 

HUMAN SERVICES: Recent grantees include Greater Life, which works with the underprivileged in Newark; Hartley House in Midtown Manhattan; and Livingston Food Pantry and Montana Food Bank in Montana. The Selz couple appear to have an interest in adoption and have recently supported Spence Chapin Adoption Agency, New Hope for Children, and Donaldson Adoption Institute.

ANIMALS & ENVIRONMENT: The couple has supported Nature Conservancy, Wildlife Conservation Society, World Wildlife Fund, North Shore Animal League, SPCA of Westchester, and Stafford Animal Shelter, among others.

K-12 EDUCATION: Lisa Selz sits on the board of Allen Stevenson School in Manhattan, which the couple supports. Other grantees have included Collegiate School, Covenant Christian Ministries Academy, De La Salle Institute, Harbor Science & Arts Charter School, Prep for Prep, and the Millbrook School.

HEALTH & SCIENCE:  The couple helps fund health outfits like Calvary Fund, which supports Calvary Hospital in the Bronx, the Cornell Center for Materials Research, and Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

LOOKING FORWARD: Expect this couple's robust philanthropy to continue in line with their established interest areas.


Selz Foundation, Inc.
1370 Ave. of the Americas, 24th Fl.
New York City, NY 10019
Telephone: (212) 554-5044
Contact: Bernard T. Selz, Pres.