Blum's Giving: A Bay Area Financier Supports Policy And Global Outfits

Richard C. Blum, 80, serves as CEO of Blum Capital Partners, a private equity firm he co-founded in 1975 in San Francisco. Blum is also a co-founder of TPG Capital, another Bay Area-headquartered company. Blum sits on a number of boards, including the Wilderness Society and the American Himalayan Foundation (AHF), which he chairs. It's unclear how much Blum is worth, but sources have referred to him as a billionaire. What's more, his wife is U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, whose own net worth was estimated at $45.3 million, according to this source. Talk about a one-two punch.

This wealthy family moves their charitable contributions through the Blum Family Foundation, though Feinstein does not appear to be on the books, at least according to a recent tax return. In a recent year, the foundation gave away a little under $2 million. Apart from Blum, fellow Berkeley alum Erica Stone has long been associated with the foundation. She is president of AHF and is a trustee of UC Berkeley's Blum Center for Developing Economies, too.

Let's talk about the Blum Center. It was created last decade after Blum gave $15 million to UC Berkeley, his alma mater. The Center describes itself as an interdisciplinary hub for students, researchers, and scholars focusing on global poverty and inequality. In light of Feinstein's political career, it's unsurprising that the Blum family is interested in policy and global issues, and giving through the Blum Family Foundation reflects this.

Blum's family foundation supports outfits like the Panetta Institute for Public Policy, itself founded in the late 1990s by a government type: former CIA director and former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and his wife Sylvia. The outfit serves the entire California State University system plus several other schools. Other grantees include San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association; The Brookings Institution, where Blum is a trustee; Institute for Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley; and the National Democratic Institute.

As mentioned, Blum chairs the American Himalayan Foundation (AHF) which engages in humanitarian projects in Tibet and Nepal. Blum has steadily supported AHF. Another grantee in this giving area is the Carter Center, a nonprofit public policy center founded by Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter to fight disease, hunger, poverty, conflict and oppression around the world. Blum also supports the William J. Clinton Presidential Library.

Besides this interest area, Blum also supports education, human services and community development, as well as the arts. In the arts, many of the foundation's recent grantees are organizations concerned with social impact. For instance, he's supported Creative Visions Foundation, which "supports creative activists who use media for change," and the Daniel Pearl Foundation, which "promotes cross-cultural understanding through journalism and music." For a complete look at this funder, read our profile of Richard Blum linked below.

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