NET WORTH: Unknown
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Fairholme Funds
FUNDING AREAS: Education & Medicine, Arts & Music, Entrepreneurship & Mentorship, Miami community
OVERVIEW: Bruce Berkowitz, his wife Tracey, and family, move their philanthropy through the Fairholme Foundation, a charity which funds select projects in the areas of arts, sciences, medicine, entrepreneurship, and education. The family's giving strongly emphasizes Miami and a big winner has been University of Miami. Another interest is the arts. One of the couple's kids is an art historian and collector of contemporary art.
BACKGROUND: Bruce Berkowitz attended University of Massachusetts Amherst, the first in his family to attend college, graduating in 1980 with an economics degree. Berkowitz was a senior vice president and portfolio manager at Lehman Brothers, and also served as managing director and senior portfolio manager at Smith Barney. Berkowitz founded Fairholme Capital Management in 1997 and founded The Fairholme Fund in 1999.
EDUCATION & MEDICINE: The Fairholme Foundation aims to "inspire and empower humanity through funding select projects in the areas of arts, sciences, medicine, entrepreneurship, and education." In this grantmaking category, the foundation specifically focuses on helping "institutions circumvent longstanding roadblocks to educational success." Fairholme donated $20 million to finance the University of Miami's Student Activities Center, and also has made significant donations to the Miller School of Medicine, the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Nicklaus Children's Hospital.
Other grantees have included Gulliver Schools; St. Phillips Episcopal School; Breakthrough Miami, a "tuition-free academic enrichment program that provides motivated middle-school students from underserved communities"; and Teach for America.
ARTS & MUSIC: The Berkowitzes also help fund arts and music institutions and are "committed to bringing world-class artworks to South Florida." An important figure here is daughter Chloe Berkowitz, an art historian and collector of contemporary art. Chloe is also a trustee of Pérez Art Museum Miami, which the family has supported via their foundation. Other grantees have included Miami Art Museum, New World Symphony, National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, and National YoungArts Foundation.
Another important undertaking in this area is the recently-minted Fairholme Unlimited Foundation, whose mission is to "promote the advancement and appreciation of fine arts for the public benefit and to establish and maintain facilities for the exhibition of works of art." Chloe serves as president of this charity. In the coming years, James Turrell's Aten Reign conceptual light installation, and Richard Serra's Passage of Time, among other works, will be exhibited publicly in Fairholme's future Miami headquarters building.
ENTREPRENEURSHIP & MENTORSHIP: Fairholme Foundation sponsors The Secret Millionaires Club "Grow Your Own Business Challenge" in concert with Warren Buffett. The program and competition were created to encourage kids to be entrepreneurial and practice good financial habits. The Foundation has also supported The Women of Tomorrow Mentor & Scholarship Program and The Launch Pad at the University of Miami.
MIAMI COMMUNITY: Grantees have included United Way of Miami-Dade, Camillus House, The Friendship Circle Miami, Lotus House, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami.
OTHER: A component of this family's philanthropy also involves Jewish causes. The Berkowitzes, via Fairholme, have supported The Center for Jewish History, Temple Beth Am, and Chabad Center of Kendall.
LOOKING FORWARD: Expect this family's philanthropy to largely focus on South Florida for now, as Berkowitz is still very much engaged in business. Their work in the Miami arts space should be watched carefully.