Jeff Greene and Mei Sze Chan

NET WORTH: $3.8 billion

SOURCE OF WEALTH: Real estate investments

FUNDING AREAS: Florida Community, Policy, Jewish Causes, Arts, TBD

OVERVIEW: Greene and his wife, Mei Sze Chan, are Giving Pledge signatories, meaning that the majority of their wealth will go to philanthropy. For now, Greene's philanthropy is somewhat hard to track, particularly because the foundation the couple set up doesn't appear to have yet kicked into gear.

BACKGROUND: Jeff Greene is the son of working-class parents from Massachusetts. Greene got into Johns Hopkins and worked his way through. He later traveled the country selling circus tickets to pay for Harvard Business School. He bought his first house as a grad student, renting out rooms. He had 18 properties when he graduated. Today the bulk of his fortune is in real estate.


FLORIDA COMMUNITY: Greene and Mei Sze founded the Greene School in Palm Beach, "dedicated to empowering high-performing students to be adaptive, confident and productive stewards of an evolving world." Around 80 students attend his pre-k to 8th grade school which opened in the fall of 2016. The couple both sit on the board of the school. 

Greene has also given modest sums to other cultural and civic institutions in South and Central Florida. He's given to the Everglades Foundation, and the Central Florida YMCA Foundation. Greene and Mei Szehave also hosted a reception of the Palm Beach Police Foundation's Policeman's Ball in their home. Greene sits on the board of the Palm Beach Police Foundation, whose mission includes providing scholarships and grants for police department family members.

POLICY: Greene established the Greene Institute a few years ago, which focuses on inequality, education and health. The Greene Institute’s Closing the Gap Conference, meanwhile, brings together high profile academics and political leaders to discuss the importance of maintaining a skilled middle class. As Green puts it, "Unless we take action, the combination of technological trends and our ongoing failure to keep pace with competing industrialized countries in education will only accelerate the systemic fractures in our economy. This will destroy the middle class."

JEWISH CAUSES: Grantees have included Jewish Federation of Palm Beach. Jewish causes are likely a priority of Greene's, not only because of his Hebrew school teacher mother, but because he himself was a Hebrew school teacher, one of the many jobs he took on while putting himself through school.

ARTS: Greene also appears to have some interest in art, having given steadily in recent years to the Perlman Music Program in New York. The outfit supports young talented string players. Greene and Mei Sze are also honorary chairs at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, though it's unclear if the couple have supported that outfit with money. 

LOOKING FORWARD: Though the couple's family foundation remains opaque, they have ramped up their profile in recent years with a school and the nonprofit Greene Institute. This suggests that education and policy (particularly income inequality) could remain high priorities as the couple's giving kicks into high gear. Another area worth keeping an eye on is health. Greene's father repeatedly fell on hard times and died of a heart attack at age 51. Another factor here is Greene's wife, Mei Sze, a Chinese woman who fled Malaysia to live in Australia. Perhaps some global development philanthropy will occur down the line as well.