NET WORTH: $3.2 billion
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Guggenheim Partners
FUNDING AREAS: Education & Youth, Animal Welfare, Arts & Culture, Chicago Community
OVERVIEW: Mark Walter and his wife Kimbra move their philanthropy through the Walter Family Foundation, which gave away around $10.2 million in a recent year. The Chicago couple gives to social justice causes, helping low-income youth, but another major interest is animal welfare. The Walters also support the arts.
BACKGROUND: Mark Walter graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Creighton University and received a J.D. from Northwestern University. Walter is CEO of investment firm Guggenheim Partners. He helped found the firm in the late 1990s after he converted Liberty Hampshire into a family office. He’s been an owner of the L.A. Dodgers since 2012, when his investment group (which includes Magic Johnson) purchased the team for $2.2 billion.
EDUCATION & YOUTH: The Walters have supported Northwestern University for years and Walter’s first gift was $100 in 1986, as a newly graduated alum. In 2014, the Walters couple topped that by just a little with a $40 million gift to the school. Northwestern University School of Law is home to the Walter Family Foundation Scholarship Fund. Kimbra serves on the board of OneGoal, “a coalition of teachers, students, school leaders and education advocates working to close the college degree divide,” to which the couple has given millions. Other grantees include Metrosquash and the University of Chicago’s Urban Labs, which has “five labs working to address challenges across five key dimensions of urban life: crime, education, health, poverty, and energy and environment.” The Walters also support Get IN Chicago, which takes a “public health approach to youth violence reduction.” They have shown an interest in social justice issues for youth.
ANIMAL WELFARE: The Walters own a 17,000-acre animal refuge in Florida, preserves in Africa, and are backers of the Lincoln Park Zoo, where Kimbra is a trustee. They’ve given strong support to Chimp Haven, the National Chimpanzee Sanctuary, a “nonprofit facility in the U.S. providing a home for chimpanzees retired from laboratory research, formerly kept as pets, and used in entertainment.” The couple also backs Association of Zoos & Aquariums.
ARTS & CULTURE: Grantees have included the Goodman Theatre, where Kimbra is a vice chair and which received a seven-figure gift recently; Lyric Opera, Old Town School of Folk Music, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Congo Square Theatre Company; North Carolina Opera; and The Field Museum where Walter is on the board.
OTHER: Support goes to organizations that work in health, including GCE Foundation, whose mission is to “provide support and financial assistance to promising research and researchers who are working on type 2 diabetes,” and Elton John’s AIDS Foundation. Funds have gone to the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation, which is “dedicated to improving the health, education and quality of life for the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.” The Walters appear to have an interest in religious causes and religious education. Grantees include St. Teresa of Avila and Sacred Heart Major Seminary.
LOOKING FORWARD: The foundation appears to have a website under construction and will hopefully be more accessible in the near future.
The Walter Family Foundation does not provide a clear avenue of contact but below is an address:
Walter Family Foundation
227 West Monroe Street, 4800
Chicago, IL 60606