Notre Dame is a powerhouse of a sports school, so perhaps it's no surprise that 1969 alumnus John W. Jordan II has made sports a philanthropic priority. Jordan recently came onto our radar when the Giving Pledge announced its most recent signatories since May 2014. Ten new families appeared on the list, pledging to give away at least half of their wealth, and Jordan's name was one of them.
First a bit about Jordan. After graduating from Notre Dame and attending Columbia Business School, Jordan went on to co-found the Jordan Company in 1982, a private equity firm that specializes in buying and building companies, with offices in New York, Chicago, Stamford and Shanghai. Jordan has given some $150 million to Notre Dame over the years, making him the largest donor to the school as of his 2014 gift last May. Some of this money has been earmarked for sports. Jordan's philanthropy also involves the Jordan Family Sports Foundation, which serves minority children living below the poverty level. The foundation's grants target sports needs such as equipment and uniforms, as well as training for coaches.
Unfortunately, the foundation doesn't have much of a web presence or a clear way for grantseekers to get in touch. A recent 990 reveals that Jordan, along with two of his kids, John Jordan III and Jennifer Jordan, serve as directors. Additionally, there's an associate grants manager on staff. As for what's received money of late, Chicago area schools are a big winner, with schools such as St. Francis De Sales on Chicago's East Side and Holy Trinity Academy receiving support. Annual grantmaking out of the foundation is under a million recently, and individual grants tend to stay below $100,000 with a few exceptions. One of these exceptions is Good Sports, which provides athletic equipment to underprivileged youth.
Another outlier, in terms of both grant money and geographical location is Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn, New York. Poly Prep received more than $360,000 in 2013. The story here is that John Jordan III attended the school and played football. Poly Prep is also the site of the Jordan Scholarship Program, which helps promising young student-athletes go to Poly Prep and support the cost of their education.
Looking ahead, Jordan appears to be one of those guys who believes the 50 percent giving mark isn't nearly enough. As he puts it in his Giving Pledge letter: "... my philanthropic DNA was inherited from my mother who dedicated her life to the service of others... perhaps a 50% hurdle is too low." All this makes Jordan someone to keep an eye on. He's also active in Chicago civic life, and sits on boards such as the Art Institute of Chicago.
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