Lowell Milken

NET WORTH: $1.04 billion

SOURCE OF WEALTH: Drexel Burnham Lambert, Knowledge Universe

FUNDING AREAS: Education, Arts & Culture, Health

OVERVIEW: Lowell Milken founded the Lowell Milken Family Foundation in 1987. The organization “creates and supports initiatives that cultivate human capital.” While education is the main focus of the Milken’s philanthropic work, he also supports arts and culture and medical research. In 2000, Milken was named one of America's most generous philanthropists by Worth magazine.

BACKGROUND: The younger brother of the the bond trader Michael Milken, Lowell Milken is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and earned a J.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles. He worked for many years with his brother at Drexel Burnham Lambert, resigning in 1989, when his brother was indicted in a high-profile securities fraud case. Although he was also named in the indictment, charges were eventually dropped against Lowell. In 1996, he co-founded Knowledge Universe, an education company that is one of the largest private providers of early childhood education in the U.S.


EDUCATION: Much of Milken’s education philanthropy is run through signature programs organized by his foundation. One such program, the Milken Educator Awards, is one of longest-running teacher awards programs in the country and has awarded over $64 million in prize money. Another foundation program, the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, utilizes expert teachers to train teachers and other school personnel in best practices that have significantly improved student outcomes at participating districts across the country. A newer program, the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes, “works with K-12 students and educators to discover and share the stories of ordinary people who have had a profound and positive impact on the course of history.” In addition to these signature programs, Milken has funded the High Tech Los Angeles Charter School and the Lowell Milken Institute for Business and Law Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles.

ARTS & CULTURE: Milken has a strong interest in the preservation of Jewish music is the founder of the Milken Archive of Jewish Music, a collection of 600 recorded works and a virtual museum. In honor of his late wife Leah Hoffmitz Milken, who was a professor at ArtCenter College of Design, Milken has funded the Hoffmitz Milken Center for Typography, which “aims to set the global standard in the field of visual communication and […] to advance the art of typography.”

HEALTH: In support of his brother's Prostate Cancer Foundation, Lowell created the Lowell Milken Young Investigator Award for scientists for work in the field of prostate cancer.

LOOKING FORWARD: Milken is likely to remain deeply involved in education through his foundation. It is possible that he will increase his funding of charter schools and other education organizations in California in the coming years.


Lowell Milken Family Foundation

National Institute for Excellence in Teaching

Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes



The Lowell Milken Family Foundation

1250 4th St., Suite 520

Santa Monica, CA 90401