NET WORTH: Unknown
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Goldman Sachs
FUNDING AREAS: Arts & Culture, Education, Health, New York City Community, Human Rights & Criminal Justice
OVERVIEW: Robert Menschel moves his philanthropy through the Robert and Joyce Menschel Family Foundation and the Vital Projects Fund. Menschel’s family foundation gives about $1 million annually to organizations in New York City. The Vital Projects Fund, which he runs with his wife, brother and sister-in-law, has a broader geographic focus and gave over $10 million in a recent year. Menschel’s philanthropic interests include arts and culture, education, health, the New York City community, and human rights and criminal justice.
BACKGROUND: Robert Menschel graduated from Syracuse University and attended NYU's Graduate School of Business. He became a specialist with the New York Stock Exchange in 1951 and joined Goldman, Sachs & Company in 1954. A year after joining the firm, Menschel founded the investment industry’s first and most successful institutional investment department. He became a partner with the firm in 1967. Menschel is the author Markets, Mobs & Mayhem: A Modern Look at the Madness or Crowds and a 2015 recipient of the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy.
ARTS & CULTURE: Menschel and his ex-wife Joyce have a strong interest in the arts, and particularly in photography. Joyce has served on the board of trustees at the Metropolitan Museum of Art since the 1990s, and the museum is the site of the Joyce F. Menschel Photography Library. The couple has also supported New York City’s Museum of Modern Art, where Robert Menschel once chaired the board of trustees and has given at least 130 works of art. Additional past grantees of the Robert and Joyce Menschel Family Foundation include Carnegie Hall, Bridgehampton Chamber Music, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the Apollo Theater, and the Signature Theatre. Past grantees of the Vital Projects Fund include the Philharmonic Symphony Society of New York, the Museum of Modern Art, and Light Work, a nonprofit photography organization.
EDUCATION: Menschel's education philanthropy has priortized Syracuse University and the greater New York City area. Syracuse, Menschel’s alma mater, is home to the Robert B. Menschel Media Center and the Robert B. Menschel Photography Gallery. Additional past recipients of higher education funding include Columbia University, Weill Cornell Medical College, and Hunter College. In K-12 education, Menschel’s foundations have supported Storefront Academy of Harlem, the Prep for Prep gifted education program and New Jersey Seeds, which aims to "ensure that students have the knowledge, skills, access and support to thrive at the nation’s finest schools and colleges."
HEALTH: Menschel is a trustee and executive committee member at New York Presbyterian Hospital. Through is family foundation, he has also supported the Lymphoma Foundation, the Lupus Foundation of America and the Marfan Foundation. The Vital Projects Fund has supported Montefiore Hospital and the Cleveland Clinic.
NYC COMMUNITY: Menschel’s family foundation has supported New York City organizations including the Friends of the High Line, the Brooklyn Historical Society, WNET public television, and the Central Park Conservancy.
HUMAN RIGHTS & CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Menschel has supported human rights and criminal justice organizations mainly through the Vital Projects Fund. One past grantee is New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, which “works to reform, revitalize—and when necessary, defend—our country’s systems of democracy and justice.” Additional past grantees include the American Civil Liberties Union, the Council on Foreign Relations, Doctors Without Borders, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Southern Center for Human Rights, and the Freedom of the Press Foundation.
LOOKING FORWARD: It is likely that Menschel will continue his support of arts and culture, with a specific focus on New York City. It is possible that his children, nieces and nephews will have more input, especially at the Vital Projects Fund, in the future.
The Robert and Joyce Menschel Family Foundation
77 Water St., 9th Fl.
New York, NY 10005
Vital Projects Fund, Inc.
375 Park Ave., Ste. 1602
New York, NY 10152