NET WORTH: $1.55 billion
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Baupost Group
FUNDING AREAS: Health, Education, Jewish Causes, Arts & Culture, Boston Community
OVERVIEW: Seth and Beth Klarman established the Klarman Family Foundation in 1991. Based in Boston, Massachusetts, the organization aims to “make measurable progress in improving the lives of others.” The Klarmans’ areas of giving include health, education, Jewish causes, arts and culture and the greater Boston area.
BACKGROUND: Seth Klarman grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. He graduated from Cornell University and worked at a mutual fund before attending Harvard Business School. In 1982, he cofounded the Baupost Group, a hedge fund that currently manages about $30 billion in capital.
HEALTH: The Klarmans’ philanthropy in the area of health supports “research to advance the understanding of the biological basis of health and illness.” Through the foundation, the couple has given more than $32 million to the Broad Institute’s Klarman Cell Observatory, which aims to “map the cellular components of human cells and to define the cellular circuits in which they function.” An area of specific interest is research on eating disorders; the foundation supports individual researchers at top U.S. universities through its Anorexia Nervosa Genetics Initiative. In the Boston area, the Klarmans have funded the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, the Boston Children’s Hospital, and the Boston Medical Center, among others.
EDUCATION: The Klarmans’ education funding has prioritized the Boston area, arts education and programs for underserved students. Boston-area grantees include Boston University, Brookline Public Schools, the Perkins School for the Blind and Boston After School & Beyond. The Klarmans have also supported several music and arts education programs, including the Conservatory Lab Charter School, the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Arts Academy and the Boston Children’s Chorus. Grantees working with underserved children and youth include the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston, Outward Bound and the Camp Harbor View Foundation, which “helps kids to envision new pathways to success by providing life-shaping experiences at a critical time in their lives.” Another major recipient is Seth Klarman’s alma mater Cornell, where the couple bankrolled the Klarman Humanities Building.
BOSTON COMMUNITY: Through their foundation, the Klarmans have supported many Boston organizations, prioritizing programs that help low-income communities and arts and cultural organizations. Past grantees include Boston’s Healthcare for the Homeless Program, the Family Service Association of Greater Boston, the Brookline Community Mental Health Center, Adolescent Consultation Services, Food Project and Rosie’s Place, a sanctuary for poor and homeless women. The Klarmans have also supported the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, which aims to develop community leadership, and Strategic Grant Partners, a pro bono consulting firm for Boston area non-profits.
ARTS & CULTURE: The Klarmans have supported arts and culture in Boston and across the state of Massachusetts. To this end, the foundation has partnered with the Barr Foundation to form the Barr-Klarman Massachusetts Art Initiative, which will donate $25 million over 6 years to 29 arts and culture organizations in the state. One recipient, is the Fitchburg Art Museum, which offers historical, contemporary and local art programs and exhibitions as a means of fostering creativity and community building. Through their own foundation, the Klarmans have also supported the Boston Public Library, the Boston Ballet, the Boston Landmarks Orchestra, the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, the Community Music Center of Boston, and the Emerald Necklace Conservancy.
JEWISH CAUSES: The Klarmans have supported Jewish organizations in the U.S. and Israel. In the U.S. the couple has given more than $8 million each to the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston and Facing History and Ourselves. In Israel, the Klarmans have funded conservative organizations, including some that support the continued expansion of Israeli settlements in Palestine. Past grantees in this area include the Israel Project, the David Project. The couple has also supported the the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a pro-Israel think tank that has studied Muslim terrorism in the Middle East.
LOOKING FORWARD: While the Klarmans are likely to continue their support for a broad variety of Boston-based organizations, it is possible that their specific interests in health, education and Jewish causes will shift over time. While the foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals, it occasionally posts RFPs or open application notices for its current areas of focus.