NET WORTH: $2.2 billion
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Financial management, founder of Baron Capital
FUNDING AREAS: Education, Health, Arts & Culture, Jewish Community
OVERVIEW: Ron Baron’s philanthropy touches on many major issues, including health, education, and the arts, but he most consistently gives to Jewish organizations. His Baron Capital Foundation gives out somewhere in the range of $1-$1.5 million per year in a mix of small to medium sized grants to around 60 organizations. Apart from that, personal donations from Baron are hard to come by.
BACKGROUND: Ron Baron grew up in a Jewish family in Asbury Park, NJ, and attended Bucknell, and George Washington University Law School before landing a job in the U.S. Patent Office. In 1970, he made the move to Wall Street and worked at several brokerage firms as a securities analyst before founding his own firm in 1982. Today, Baron Capital Management's portfolio contains more than $25 billion in assets, affording Baron the ability to spend extravagantly on things such as high-profile corporate entertainment to lure new investors, or his East Hampton home, which he bought for $103 million in 2007--the most ever paid for a residential property at the time.
EDUCATION: While Baron's alma mater typically receives a grant of $5,000 per year, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania have received as much as $400,000 in one year. Duke University has also received six-figure grants, while other places like Columbia Business School, Emory Business School, and private schools like Horace Mann receive smaller gifts.
HEALTH: What appears to be Baron Capital's largest grant ever went to the Weill Cornell Medical School in 2010, but at $1 million, it is hardly a blip in terms of Baron's personal assets, much less that of his firm, or the school, which has gotten at least $400 million from the Wall St. tycoon it is named after, and regularly receives multi-million dollar donations. Apart from that, the Baron Capital Foundation has made nominal grants of $1,000 to places like the Lymphoma Research Foundation, the Genetic Disease Research Foundation, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and the Jupiter Medical Center, and occasionally makes a slightly larger donation, such as the $25,000 that went to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation in 2011, and the $100,000 that went to the University of Miami Brain Tumor Initiative in 2012.
JEWISH COMMUNITY: In 2010, the Foundation gave $100,000 to the Birthright Israel Foundation, an organization that sponsors 10-day trips to Israel for young people, $250,000 to American Friends of the Israel Museum, and $125,000 to the UJA, for which Baron’s wife, Judy has served on the Board of Directors. It seems that organizations that promote American Jewish identity and ties to Israel receive the largest or most consistent gifts, including the National Museum of American Jewish History, the American Jewish Committee, and the Jewish Center of the Hamptons. Some, like the American Friends of the Hebrew University, have received multiple gifts in a single year.
ARTS & CULTURE: The Baron Capital Foundation's largest single beneficiary is generally the Metropolitan Opera House, which tends to receive $450,000 annually, though there is some speculation that this gift is part of his payment for renting the Met for his annual Investor Conference, where he brings in big-name entertainers like Celine Dion and Billy Joel to perform for the heavyweight CEOs and potential investors in attendance. Other grants have included $50,000 to the Big Apple Circus, $5,000 to the Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation, $2,500 to the Lincoln Center Theater, and, of course, numerous donations to Jewish culture organizations and museums.
OTHER CAUSES: There do not seem to be any limitations on what the Baron Capital Foundation will support, and it has donated to multiple veterans’ charities, the Milken Institute, which does policy research, and at least one organization that promotes Italian heritage.
LOOKING FORWARD: Baron Capital Management has seen a surge in growth in recent years--$7 billion worth from 2013-2014 alone. While one may expect some lag before a comparative increase is seen in its giving, it is not unreasonable to expect the foundation's annual grantmaking to increase to $2 million or more in the not-too-distant future. And though there have not been any indications of this yet, with Baron in his 70s, he may be starting to think more about what he is going to do with all the wealth he has accumulated.
Ron Baron, Trustee, Baron Capital Foundation
767 5th Ave, 49th Floor, New York, NY 10153