Seth Klarman Gives $5 Million to Spelman: Philanthropy Tracker

(Bloomberg) -- It’s unclear what recent tax changes will mean for U.S. donations, but in January, there was plenty of publicly noted giving.

Seth Klarman Gives $5 Million to Spelman: Philanthropy Tracker

Celebrities spurred donations to Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, to aid those who’ve experienced sexual harassment. Billionaires at Davos announced mega gifts for ocean conservation, agriculture development and health workers. Seth Klarman donated to a historically black women’s college. And how about football as a philanthropic engine? Colin Kaepernick’s #10for10 brought 10 days of donations to 10 different charities, while the countdown to the Super Bowl had fans opening up their wallets. It started with Buffalo Bills loyalists donating to Bengals’ charities. As for office pool winnings come Sunday, Super Bowl ads may offer some ideas. Matt Damon will tout for Stella Artois.

The Bloomberg News Philanthropy Tracker rounds up big, small and interesting gifts of the month. Email tips to

January Gifts

$306 million: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for agricultural development, including $164.5 million to Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa to improve soil health, $46.9 million to TechnoServe for coffee production in East Africa, $19.8 million to International Rice Research Institute to develop stress-tolerant rice, and $5.2 million to CARE for the dairy value chain in Bangladesh. "If we are serious about ending extreme hunger and poverty around the world, we must be serious about transforming agriculture for small farmers -- most of whom are women," Gates said in a statement.

$75 million: Bill Miller, founder and chairman of Miller Value Partners, to the Johns Hopkins University philosophy department.

$50 million: Evelyn and Ernest Rady, chairman of American Assets Trust, to Salvation Army to build transitional housing in San Diego. Two facilities will serve the city with the fourth highest homeless population in the U.S.

$50 million: Jeff Skoll, Richard Branson, Christopher Hohn and the ELMA Foundation have pledged this amount to Last Mile Health and Living Goods to train and deploy 50,000 community health workers to provide digitally enabled care to 34 million people.

$30 million: T. Denny Sanford to the Horatio Alger Association for scholarships at 12 universities, seven of which are in South Dakota, where Sanford founded First Premier Bank. Sanford also gave $30 million this month to the San Diego Zoo.

$33 million: Jeff Bezos to TheDream.US to fund college scholarships for dreamers, immigrants brought to the U.S. as children without documentation. Donald Graham solicited the gift for the organization he founded after selling the Washington Post to Bezos in 2013. Separately, Bezos gave $250,000 to the News Literacy Project to train youth in consuming and producing journalism.

$25 million: Janice and Ken Freeman, a KKR alum, to Bucknell University for a new college of management.

$10 million: Ophelia Lazaridis, wife of BlackBerry founder Mike Lazaridis, to the Stratford Festival in Ontario for building a new Tom Patterson theater. The gift matches that made by Bridgewater Associates’ Dan Bernstein, chairman of the festival.

$10 million: Len Blavatnik to Columbia University’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science to supports doctoral students and fund breakthrough ideas. Through the Blavatnik Family Foundation.

$7.2 million: Asana Inc. CEO Dustin Moskovitz and Cari Tuna’s Open Philanthropy Project to Helen Keller International for vitamin A supplementation to preschool children in sub-Saharan Africa.

$5.5 million: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Center for Data Science to create an AI-based tool to map scientific knowledge.

$4.5 million: CEO Marc Benioff and his wife, Lynne, through the Benioff Ocean Initiative to the World Economic Forum Friends of the Ocean Action, a three-year public-private effort to meet United Nations sustainable development goal No. 14.

$5 million: Beth and Seth Klarman, CEO of Baupost Group, to Spelman College to provide scholarships at the Atlanta-based school.

$2.5 million: Robert F. Smith, CEO of Vista Equity Partners, to Prostate Cancer Foundation for research on the disease in African Americans and care for U.S. military veterans.

$350,000: A mobile health van will fight the opioid epidemic for eight months in a pilot by the Kraft Center for Community Health at Massachusetts General Hospital. Support from GE Foundation, Partners HealthCare, Hearst Foundation, Ford Motor Co. and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

$200,000: Mark Heising, founder of Medley Partners, and Liz Simons, a former teacher, through the Heising-Simons Foundation, to award freelance journalists reporting on U.S. immigrants and other under-represented people.

$25,000: Paul G. Allen through Vulcan Productions, to create a fellowship for a documentary filmmaker to tell a story about environment or conservation in conjunction with the San Francisco International Film Festival.

$20,000: Kaepernick and Stephen Curry each pledged $10,000 to United Playaz in San Francisco, which works to keep youth out of the justice system.

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