NET WORTH: Unknown
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Goldman Sachs, Senior Director
FUNDING AREAS: Arts & Culture, Health, Education, NYC Community, Human Rights & Criminal Justice
OVERVIEW: Robert Menschel moves his philanthropy through several outfits. The Robert and Joyce Menschel Family Foundation gives around a million annually, mainly in New York City, with interests in arts and culture, health, education, and more. Menschel and Joyce have a particular interest in photography. Significant philanthropy also moves through Vital Projects Fund, Inc., an outfit that involves Menschel and Joyce. Menschel's brother and sister-in-law are on the board as well. Vital Projects Fund held some $315 million assets in 2014, and gave away nearly $13 million. It tends to work in areas similar to the ones that the Menschel's family foundation does, though it has a particular interest in human rights and criminal justice reform. It also operates on a far more national level.
BACKGROUND: Robert Menschel received a B.S. 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 department. He became a partner with the firm in 1967. Currently, Menschel is a Senior Director with the Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
ARTS & CULTURE: Menschel and his ex-wife Joyce have a strong interest in the arts, particularly photography. Joyce has served on the board of trustees at the Met since the 1990s and the museum is the site of the Joyce F. Menschel Photography Library. Sums have also gone to MoMA, where Menschel used to chair the board of trustees and has given at least 130 works of art. Other outfits receiving recent money through the Menchel's family foundation include Carnegie Hall, Bridgehampton Chamber Music, Whitney Museum of Art, Film Society of Lincoln Center, Apollo Theater, and Signature Theater. Vital Projects Fund, meanwhile, recently gave to Philharmonic Symphony Society of New York, Modern Museum of Art, and Light Work, a nonprofit photography organization.
EDUCATION: Menschel's alma mater, Syracuse University, has been a significant site of philanthropy. The University is home to the Robert B. Menschel Media Center and the Robert B. Menschel Photography Gallery. Sums through the Menschel's family foundation have recently gone to Columbia University, Weill Cornell Medical College, and Hunter College Foundation. In K-12 education, Vital Projects has supported Storefront Academy Harlem, and the couple's family foundation has recently supported Prep for Prep and NJ 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: The Menschel Family Foundation has modestly supported outfits such as the Lymphoma Foundation, SLE Lupus Foundation, National Marfan Foundation, and New York Presbyterian Fund. Menschel is a trustee and member of the executive committee of New York Presbyterian Hospital. Vital Projects has recently supported a similar list of grantees, though Montefiore Hospital, and Cleveland Clinic, among others, have also been supported.
NYC COMMUNITY: Recent sums out of the Menschel's family foundation have gone to Friends of the High Line, Brooklyn Historical Society, WNET, and Central Park Conservancy. It's worth noting that Vital Projects also works in this area, but seems to have a particular interest in environmental conservation and historic preservation.
HUMAN RIGHTS & CRIMINAL JUSTICE: This particular grantmaking involves the Vital Projects Fund. Recent money has gone to ACLU Foundation and local chapters in Colorado, Delaware, and Montana. Support has also gone to Brennan Center for Justice, a public policy and law institute at NYU that "focuses on the fundamental issues of democracy and justice." Recent money has gone as well to Council on Foreign Relations, Doctors Without Borders, Southern Poverty Law Center, Southern Center for Human Rights, and Freedom of the Press Foundation, among others.
LOOKING FORWARD: It's worth noting that apart from the Menschel's family foundation and Vital Projects Fund, Menschel's brother Richard also operates several philanthropic vehicles. The Menschel family is running quite the philanthropic operation, and much of this is taking place under the radar, in part because none of these outfits even has a website where grantseekers, or anyone else, can get in touch. Down the line, we also need to keep in mind the family's children.
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