Sanford and Joan Weill

NET WORTH: $1 billion

SOURCE OF WEALTH: Securities Brokerage, Insurance, Consumer Finance, mergers and acquisitions at American Express, Citigroup, and others

FUNDING AREAS: Education, Health, Music

OVERVIEW: Sandy Weill and his wife Joan have maintained a relatively singular focus and traditional approach to philanthropy. The vast bulk of more than $1 billion in giving has gone to support educational causes. The couple is also a major supporter of some of the world's best hospitals and a longtime champion of classical music.

BACKGROUND: Sandy Weill graduated from Cornell and has worked on Wall Street for more than 50 years and played a major role in many large banking institutions. He has served as president of American Express and was responsible for creating Travelers Group through a series of acquisitions, eventually merging Travelers with Citicorp to create Citigroup.


EDUCATION: In 1980, Weill worked with the New York City Board of Education to create the Academy of Finance, which trains high school students for careers in financial services. The program was so successful that he eventually went on to found the National Academy Foundation (NAF), which serves tens of thousands of students at career-themed academies throughout the country.

Weill has given more than $400 million to endow Cornell's medical school and its Institute for Cell and Molecular Biology and helped to raise hundreds of millions from other donors as well.  Through Cornell, he also helped develop the first American medical school overseas, partnering with the Qatar Foundation for Education. The couple has also made major contributions to the University of Michigan School of Public Policy, Paul Smith's College, and Sonoma State University, among others. The couple also made a $185 million commitment to the University of California-San Francisco to establish the new Weill Institute for Neurosciences. However, a pledge of $20 million to Paul Smith's College was pulled after the school refused to change its name to the Joan Weill-Paul Smith's College. 

HEALTH: Weill supports cutting-edge research and practice through contributions to many of the world's top hospitals and medical colleges. In addition to the Weill Cornell Medical Center, named in his honor, and the partnership that created the first American Medical College overseas, Weill has made substantial contributions to New York Presbyterian Hospital, the Hospital for Special Surgery, the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, and the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, Israel. 

MUSIC: Weill is a longtime music lover and supporter of classical music in particular.  Joan, meanwhile, was the long-time chair of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and co-chair of the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall. In 1986, The couple made a major contribution to Carnegie Hall that resulted in one of its three performance halls being named after him and Joan. Weill has served as chairman of Carnegie Hall's board of trustees and is currently a president. The couple also has made major donations to capital campaigns for a recital hall at Sonoma State, and are involved with the Lang Lang International Music Foundation.

LOOKING FORWARD: The couple's philanthropy has been rather consistent over Weill’s long career, so his areas of interest and giving patterns are not very likely to change. It is possible that they could be persuaded to wade into the education reform debate or support more innovative education programs at lower levels, particularly when it comes to magnet-type schools. The family's contributions thus far, however, have been primarily directed toward higher education. Similarly, in health, the couple's donations will likely continue to go to hospitals and medical schools for capital and building campaigns.