NET WORTH: $1.4 billion
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Gotham Partners, Pershing Square Capital Management
FUNDING AREAS: Arts & Urban Development, Economic Opportunity & Development, Education, Health & Life Sciences, Social Justice
OVERVIEW: Bill Ackman has committed several hundred million dollars to charitable and social causes since he and his ex-wife Karen founded the Pershing Square Foundation in 2006. He has a broad range of philanthropic interests and supports organizations of all sizes.
BACKGROUND: Bill Ackman was raised Chappaqua, New York, the son of a chairman of a real estate financing firm. After attending Harvard College and Harvard Business School, he co-founded Gotham Capital Management, which grew to more than $500 million in assets over the next decade. Ackman started Pershing Square Capital Management in 2004.
ARTS & URBAN DEVELOPMENT: Ackman’s arts and urban development grantmaking prioritizes New York City and Jewish causes. Past grantees include New York City’s Center for Jewish History and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY & DEVELOPMENT: Ackman supports both U.S. and international organizations in this funding area. One U.S. grantee is the Center for Popular Democracy, which works toward building “the collective capacity to envision and win an innovative pro-worker, pro-immigrant, racial and economic justice agenda.” In Africa, Ackman has invested in myAgro, an aid organization that aims to “help small-scale farmers move out of poverty.”
EDUCATION: In New York, Ackman has invested in Practice Makes Perfect, which runs summer academic and mentoring programs for elementary and middle school students. He has also supported the global organization STIR Education, which aims to build a network of teachers who are dedicated to improving their practice. Other past grantees include Teach for America, Vassar College, and Year Up.
HEALTH: Ackman’s philanthropy in the area of health prioritizes cancer research and care and accessibility of basic healthcare needs for the poor. Since 2013, the Pershing Square Foundation has partnered with the Sohn Conference Foundation to fund up to six New York-bases scientists conducting innovative cancer research. Other past grantees in the area of health include the Broad Institute, Harvard Medical School, Planned Parenthood, and Sirum, an organization based in Africa that facilitates drug redistribution to areas of high need.
SOCIAL JUSTICE: Ackman invests broadly in social justice, supporting organizations in the U.S. and abroad. U.S. grantees include the Innocence Project, “a litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted individuals,” and Welcoming America, an organization that promotes inclusive and prosperous communities. In Europe, Ackman has supported Yahad in Unum, which aims to prevent future genocide through the understanding of history. Another grantee, Seeds of Peace, seeks to “inspire and cultivate new generations of global leaders.”
LOOKING FORWARD: Ackman’s philanthropy addresses a broad range of issues. He is known to support both established and small, grassroots organizations in the U.S. and abroad, and he is likely to continue in this vein. While his foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals, contact information is provided.