NET WORTH: Unknown
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Goldman Sachs
FUNDING AREAS: Prenatal and Early Childhood Development
OVERVIEW: Richard Atlas, his wife Lezlie and family move their philanthropy through the Atlas Family Foundation. The foundation primarily gives in Southern California, supporting early childhood education, parenting education, and early child development. The foundation has a strong web presence but tends to seek out its partner organizations.
BACKGROUND: Richard S. Atlas graduated from UCLA and Harvard Business School. He retired in 1994 as a general partner at Goldman Sachs. In 1996, he was selected as a founding member of the California Endowment, which works to improve the quality of and access to healthcare for underserved populations.
ATLAS FAMILY FOUNDATION: Richard Atlas and family set up their family foundation in the mid-1980s, around the time Atlas made partner at Goldman Sachs. Years later, when Atlas was helping to raise major gifts for his Harvard Business School reunion, the trajectory of his philanthropy charged. He spoke with his former HBS classmate Bob Haas, who funded community-based programs in San Francisco. As Atlas put it, "Just that brief conversation of about five minutes totally changed the direction of not only our giving, but my life." Atlas and family have been since focused on early childhood intervention programming in Los Angeles.
Lezlie Atlas plays a strong role in the family's giving. Armed with a degree from USC School of Education, Lezlie is a child development specialist. Atlas meanwhile, was a founding member of the California Endowment, which works to improve the quality of and access to healthcare for underserved populations.
The Atlas Family Foundation invests in "human capital supporting community-based programs that place individuals on a trajectory to good health and success by serving the needs of young children and their families in Southern California." The foundation supports direct services, intervention and education programs for children prenatal to three and their families, and public policy/advocacy that create systemic change improving their lives. Organizations seeking funding from the Atlases must first be invited to submit an LOI.
The foundation makes about sixteen grants a year, with grants averaging around $50,000. Grantees include CASA Los Angeles to support its Early Childhood Initiative, Center for the Partially Sighted's Pediatric Low Vision program, Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child, and Mar Vista Family Center's Baby and Me program.
LOOKING FORWARD: Expect the Atlas family's steady work in the early child development space to continue.