Wally and Barbara Weitz

NET WORTH: Unknown 

SOURCE OF WEALTH: Weitz Investments

FUNDING AREAS: Higher Education, Arts and Culture, Autism Research and Services, Capacity Building, Leadership Development

OVERVIEW: Wally Weitz, his wife Barbara, and family move their philanthropy through the Weitz Family Foundation, which has a strong web presence and accepts applications. The foundation's grantmaking focuses on Nebraska, where around a half of its annual giving goes to arts and cultural institutions in Omaha. Outside of Nebraska, the family are major funders of Carleton College in Minnesota. 

BACKGROUND: Wally Weitz was born in Pittsburgh to a social worker and a college professor. He grew up in New Orleans and attended Carleton College in 1970 with a degree in economics. He worked on Wall Street and then in 1983, he founded Weitz Investment Management in Omaha which now manages about $6 billion in assets through its family of mutual funds and separately managed accounts.


HIGHER EDUCATION: Wally and Barbara Weitz, as well as their three children, and their children's spouses are all graduates of Carleton College in Minnesota. In 2007, they helped set in motion the Weitz Center for Creativity with a $15 million gift, and recently gave $20 million towards a music performance commons addition to the center. The family also gave a $20 million gift towards scholarships. 

ARTS & CULTURE: Much of the family's philanthropy involves Nebraska, where the Weitz Family Foundation focuses on several key giving areas. Through its Living Well in Omaha priority area, the foundation supports arts and cultural institutions in Omaha, accounting for around half of the foundation's annual giving. They've been founding supporters of outfits like the Union for Contemporary Art, Omaha Girls Rock, and Great Plains Louder than a Bomb. The foundation says that it is particularly interested in funding "organizations and projects that reach a broad swath of our community" as well as those that "promote and facilitate conversations and greater understanding of others."

AUTISM RESEARCH & SERVICES: A new priority area of the foundation, the family has an interest in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) research, education and training for providers, as well as providing increased services for the growing population. 

CAPACITY BUILDING: The foundation is also interested in capacity building work which it sees as work that improves the effectiveness and faithfulness of the organization in achieving its mission. This includes capital gifts, such as the Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center.

LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT: The foundation is interested in "cultivating the development of and providing opportunity for leaders to connect, reflect and advance their causes."

LOOKING FORWARD: Expect Wally Weitz and family to remain laser-focused on Nebraska and Carleton College.