Shelby M.C. and Gayle Davis

NET WORTH: Unknown

SOURCE OF WEALTH: Founder of Davis Advisors

FUNDING AREAS: Environment, International Education

OVERVIEW: Shelby M.C. Davis and his wife Gale conduct their philanthropy through the S&G Foundation, which by the end of 2014 held more than $1 billion in assets and gave away just under $26 million. Davis has been a major supporter of international education, cofounding the Davis United World College Scholars Program. The couple also supports the environment and certain regional outfits in places such as Wyoming, where the they live, and Florida, where Davis' parents lived. 

BACKGROUND: The son of legendary investor Shelby Cullom Davis and Kathryn Wasserman Davis, Shelby M.C. Davis was a history major at Princeton, graduating in 1958. Davis eventually became the Bank of New York’s youngest vice president since Alexander Hamilton. He founded Davis Advisors in 1969, a mutual fund management company that now has some $37 billion under management. The company is currently run by his son Christopher, while Davis and his wife Gale live in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. 


ENVIRONMENT: Davis and Gale, through their S&G Foundation, have recently supported outfits such as Friends of Acadia in Maine and Grand Teton National Park Foundation in Jackson, Wyoming, which received $65,000 in the past two tax years for which records are available. Other recent support has gone to Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, Jackson Hole Land Trust (which received $200,000 in 2014), Maine Coast Heritage Trust, Maine Farmland Trust, National Resources Council of Maine, and Nature Conservancy-Wyoming, among others.

INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION: Davis and Gale have been major supporters of international education and in 1998 gave a $45 million gift to United World College in New Mexico to fund scholarships. Moreover in 2000, Davis and veteran international educator Phil Geier cofounded the Davis United World College Scholars Program whose purpose is to "advance international understanding through education." Since its founding, the program has provided grants to selected American colleges and universities to support United World College graduates who matriculate at these schools. The first schools in the pilot group were Colby College, College of the Atlantic, Middlebury College, Princeton University, and Wellesley College. The program now has some 91 partner institutions, from Scripps College in suburban Los Angeles to Bates College in Maine, and the couple is contributing tens of millions annually to this cause. Davis also recently contributed $15 million to launch the Davis-UWC IMPACT program to ensure "UWC can continue to award places to students based on merit, irrespective of their background." The roots of this philanthropy are deep and Davis' late mother Kathryn created Davis Projects for Peace, which supports and encourages "today's motivated youth to create and test their own ideas for building peace."

OTHER: A component of the couple's philanthropy involves supporting local outfits in Maine, Wyoming (where the couple lives) and Florida (Davis' parents lived in Hobe Sound, Florida). Recent support in Florida has gone to 1000 Friends of Florida, "a statewide nonprofit organization founded in 1986 to help build better communities and save special places," Hobe Sound Nature Center, Jupiter Island Medical Clinic, and Hobe Sound Community Chest, a human services outfit. In Wyoming, recent support has included grants to National Museum of Wildlife Art and Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum. In Maine, a recent grant went to Bar Harbor Music Festival, among others. Support has also gone to U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association in Park City, Utah.

It's also worth noting that of late most of the S&G Foundation's money has streamed to a donor advised fund at Vanguard Charitable Trust. In the 2014 fiscal year, some $25 million out of approximately $25.8 million in grantmaking went to the Vanguard Charitable Trust. It is possible that these funds are related to the couple's work in international education, but could also involve other interests. In any case, this makes it tough to get a handle on the full scope of the couple's philanthropy.

LOOKING FORWARD: In his retirement, Davis has been a rather active philanthropist. The S&G Foundation held some $1 billion in assets as of the end of the 2014 fiscal year, so expect money to continue to stream towards the couple's established interest areas, especially their work in international education. Down the line, one should also keep an eye on the third generation of Davis philanthropy.


The S&G Foundation does not provide a clear avenue for grantseekers to get in touch with the couple but below is an address

S & G Foundation, Inc.

P.O. Box 860

Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

Telephone: (518) 886-4220