NET WORTH: $1.61 billion
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Yucaipa Companies
FUNDING AREAS: International Relations, Worker's Rights, At-Risk Communities, Arts & Architecture, Education & Youth, Scientific Research
OVERVIEW: Ron Burkle founded the Ronald W. Burkle Foundation, to support "programs that strengthen international understanding, foster worker’s rights, empower underserved communities, nurture the arts and architecture, engage children in learning and advance scientific research." Burkle is co-chair of the Burkle Center for International Relations at UCLA.
BACKGROUND: The California-born son of a grocery store manager, Ronald W. Burkle founded investment firm Yucaipa Companies in 1986 and is widely recognized as one of the preeminent investors in the retail, manufacturing and distribution industries. The firm has completed mergers and acquisitions valued at more than $30 billion. Burkle is also co-owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins
FUNDING PROFILE: Ron Burkle established the Ronald W. Burkle Foundation in 1998 to "positively influence people around the world and their communities." More specifically, the foundation supports programs that "strengthen international understanding, foster worker’s rights, empower underserved communities, nurture the arts and architecture, engage children in learning and advance scientific research." The foundation accepts letters of inquiry on an ongoing basis by snail mail.
UCLA is home to the Burkle Center for International Relations and the Burkle Global Impact Initiative, a program designed to get more members of the entertainment industry to engage in global policy, humanitarian, and advocacy issues. Burkle is a cochairman of the center that bears his name. Burkle also serves on such boards as AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA).
A sampling of grantees includes American Cancer Society, Anti-Defamation League, The Carter Center, Claremont Graduate Schools, Harlem Children's Zone, LA Philharmonic, Robin Hood Foundation, Teach for America, and LAANE – Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy. In a recent year, Burkle's foundation gave away around $2.4 million across some sixty grantees.
The foundation's grantmaking has also supported places like Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, Keep Memory Alive, which helps those with brain disorders, Share Our Strength, which deals with childhood hunger, Walden Woods Project, an environmental and educational outfit, and USC Shoah Foundation, which has received at least $1 million from the Burkle family.
LOOKING FORWARD: Burkle is only in his 60s and still very much engaged in business. With enormous wealth to tap, Burkle is someone to watch for much greater giving in the coming years.