Ten More Families Commit Majority of Wealth to Philanthropy

Five years after launching, The Giving Pledge reaches 137 signatories

Jun 02, 2015, 09:00 ET from The Giving Pledge

SEATTLE, June 2, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Today the Giving Pledge announced the addition of ten new individuals and families to the pledge since May 2014, bringing the current total of signatories to 137. Launched in 2010 and now in its fifth year, the Giving Pledge is a multi-generational, global initiative created by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates that encourages billionaires to give the majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes.

The ten new signatories announced today are: Judy Faulkner, Harold Grinspoon and Diane Troderman, Gordon and Llura Gund, Elie and Susy Horn, John W. Jordan II "Jay", Brad and Kim Keywell, Ruth and Bill Scott, Hamdi Ulukaya, Sunny and Sherly Varkey, and Sir Ian Wood.

"When we started the Giving Pledge five years ago, we had no idea we'd get this many people to come together. It has really grown, first in the U.S. but more recently all over the world," said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "We hope to intensify philanthropy and encourage people to get started younger. It's exciting to see people becoming bolder and more thoughtful in their giving. This is about building on a wonderful tradition of philanthropy that will ultimately help the world become a much better place."

In the past five years, the Giving Pledge has shown strong momentum in encouraging billionaires to give away at least half of their fortunes to charitable causes. Initially launched with 40 families in the United States in 2010, the pledge has grown to include 137 pledgers from 14 countries. These newest signatories are devoted to such causes as helping refugees around the world, advancing medical research and curing disease, improving K-12 education, supporting children in underserved schools and neighborhoods, and promoting global development and economic opportunities in Africa.

Central to the Giving Pledge is the concept of learning from one another and outside experts about how to give most effectively in order to solve the world's most pressing challenges. Giving Pledge signatories convened this week at the group's Annual Gathering and continue to connect throughout the year at various learning sessions hosted by pledgers on a range of issues in which they work. Topics discussed at this year's Annual Gathering included leveraging philanthropy to drive women's opportunities in the economy, solving environmental issues, digital technology's ability to drive social change in emerging markets, and philanthropy's role in scientific and medical research.

About the Giving Pledge

The Giving Pledge is a global effort to help address society's most pressing problems by encouraging the wealthiest families to give the majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes.

The 137 pledgers range in age from 31 to 99. Globally, signatories represent 14 countries: Australia, Brazil, Germany, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Russia, South Africa, Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine, UAE, United Kingdom, and United States. In the United States, they are from 26 states and the District of Columbia, with the largest contingents from California and New York. Over the long-term, the Giving Pledge hopes to help shift the social norms of philanthropy toward giving more, giving sooner and giving smarter.

Pledge signatories come together throughout the year to discuss challenges, successes and failures, as well as how to be smarter about giving. The Giving Pledge does not involve direct appeals, pooling money, or requirements to support a particular cause or organization.

Although the Giving Pledge is specifically focused on billionaires, it is inspired by past and present efforts that encourage and recognize givers of all financial means and backgrounds. The inspiration is the example set by millions of people who give generously (and often at great personal sacrifice) to make the world a better place.

For the full list of pledgers and personal letters by many of these pledgers outlining their commitment to give, visit www.givingpledge.org.

Biographies of New Pledgers

Judy Faulkner
Judy Faulkner is CEO and founder of Epic. With a BS in Mathematics from Dickinson College, an MS and a Doctorate of Science (honorary) from the University of Wisconsin and a Doctorate of Science (honorary) from Mount Sinai, NY, she taught computer science for several years in the UW system and then worked as a healthcare software developer, creating one of the first databases organized around a patient record. In 1979 she founded Epic in the basement of an apartment house with $70,000 in start-up money and 1½ people. Without venture capital or going public, Epic has grown from its modest beginnings as a clinical database company to its current place as a leading provider of integrated healthcare software.

Excerpt from Giving Pledge letter:
"Many years ago I asked my young children what two things they needed from their parents. They said 'food and money'. I told them 'roots and wings'. My goal in pledging 99% of my wealth to philanthropy is to help others with roots - food, warmth, shelter, healthcare, education - so they too can have wings."

Harold Grinspoon and Diane Troderman
Harold Grinspoon is the founder and Chairman of the Board of a private multifamily investment and management company, which is one of the fifty largest apartment owners in the country. Inspired by his wife, Diane Troderman, Harold founded the Harold Grinspoon Foundation in 1991 to enhance Jewish life and engage Jews in the richness of their Jewish tradition. Harold led the foundation until June 2014 when his daughter -in-law, Winnie Sandler Grinspoon, was appointed President. Harold remains actively involved in the Foundation's work and in advancing its mission.

Excerpt from Giving Pledge letter:
"In the 21st century, I believe that for Judaism to continue to have an impact on families and society, Jewish living and learning must be actively cultivated. That is why I am committing nearly all of my assets to my Foundation to pursue this goal. The sense of mission and accomplishment that I get through my philanthropy energizes me every day. I am honored to join the Giving Pledge and encourage others to join as well."   

Gordon and Llura Gund
Gordon Gund is the Chairman and CEO of Gund Investment Corporation, a Princeton, NJ firm founded in 1968 that oversees a broad range of investment activities. 

He is a co-founder and Chairman of the Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB) of Columbia, MD. The Foundation, established in 1971, is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to finding the causes, treatments and/or cures for retinitis pigmentosa, age-related macular degeneration, and allied retinal degenerative diseases. The Foundation uses a venture capital approach as it drives entrepreneurial efforts to find treatments/cures for blindness.

Gordon is the Lead Director of the Kellogg Company and retired in 2013 as the Lead Director for Corning, Inc.

He was the principal owner of the NBA franchise Cleveland Cavaliers from 1983-2005 and served as the Chairman of the NBA Board of Governors from 1996-1999. He was an owner of three NHL teams including the San Jose Sharks from 1990-2002.

He was public sector member of the board of the U.S. Olympic Committee from 2000-2003 and served on its Governance and Ethics task force and Audit Committee.

Mr. Gund graduated from Harvard University in 1961. He is an avid sculptor, skier and fly fisherman.

Llura "Lulie" Gund is President of the New Jersey Chapter of the Foundation Fighting Blindness and a member of the national founding group. The NJ Chapter, the Foundation's first chapter, was established by her in Princeton, NJ in 1972. She also serves as a member of FFB's national Board of Trustees. Lulie retired in 2013 as Vice President of the Board of Trustees of the George Gund Foundation in Cleveland, OH, after 29 years on its Board. She has been a member of the Board of Trustees of the Nantucket Conservation Foundation, Nantucket, MA, since 1997.

Excerpt from Giving Pledge letter:
"Pre-clinical or translational work and clinical trials require far more financial support than laboratory science. That is why the Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB) has embarked on a major gifts campaign, Envision 20/20. To jumpstart Envision 20/20, Lulie and I have announced a challenge to match all major gifts to the Foundation made or pledged on a dollar-for-dollar basis. We want to ensure that these diseases are eradicated once and for all and the time for this is at hand. That is why we are pleased to join the Giving Pledge. We hope that anyone reading this will challenge us to match their gift to FFB thereby helping to ensure that we fulfill the Giving Pledge but, most of all, helping to ensure that FFB achieves its mission. When it does, it will be forever."

Elie and Susy Horn
Low-profile real estate builder Elie Horn founded Cyrela Brazil Realty in 1978 and built it into the largest publicly traded developer of high-end residential buildings in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. It operates in 17 states and 66 cities in Brazil. The company has existed for 50 years and has tens of thousands of clients.

A workaholic, Mr. Horn was born in Syria, arrived in Brazil when he was 11, and started working when he was 19. He reportedly still works 16 hours a day but respects Shabbat. Horn told the Brazilian press years ago that he planned to give away most of his fortune in his lifetime; he reportedly gives 60 percent of his earnings to charity. Since 2006, Horn has been on the list of Forbes billionaires.

Excerpt from Giving Pledge letter:
"As human beings, we will carry nothing with us to the other world – the only things we shall take are the good deeds that we accomplish in this world. We are in this world to be tested, and each one of us must grant the fruit of his abilities. I make my pledge with pleasure, and the good feeling that I tried my best to give meaning to my mission in this world (my late father gave 100% of what he had)."

John W. Jordan II "Jay"
Jay Jordan co-founded The Jordan Company in 1982. In 1986, he also cofounded JZ Capital Partners, Ltd., a public unit trust traded on the London Stock Exchange. In 1988, he founded Jordan Industries, Inc., a Midwest-based industrial conglomerate. In 1998, Mr. Jordan co-founded JZ International, a pan-European investment platform. Prior to founding The Jordan Company, he spent nine years with Carl Marks & Co., Inc., a middle-market merchant bank. Mr. Jordan is a Trustee of the University of Notre Dame and serves as Chairman of its Investment Committee.

He serves on several community and civic boards. His most important philanthropic focus however, is The Jordan Family Sports Foundation, which is headquartered in Chicago and serves minority children living below the poverty level.

Mr. Jordan holds an A.B. degree in Business Administration from the University of Notre Dame and attended Columbia University's Graduate School of Business." 

Excerpt from Giving Pledge letter:
"My philanthropic DNA was inherited from my mother who dedicated her life to the service of others. While she did not have a lot of treasure, she contributed her time and worked tirelessly serving those in need. She also told me that in her view the true measure of financial philanthropy is not how much one gives but how much one has left after one gives. That sets the bar pretty high and would suggest that perhaps a 50% hurdle is too low."

Brad and Kim Keywell
Brad is a co-founder of several technology companies including Uptake Technologies, Groupon, Echo Global Logistics, Mediaocean, and Lightbank. He is also the founder of Chicago Ideas Week and the Future Founders program for inner-city entrepreneurship.  Kim is a former manager of a large tax-exempt bond fund, and now serves on several philanthropic boards, focused on education, child advocacy, and global affairs.  Brad and Kim are the co-directors of the Keywell Foundation.

Excerpt from Giving Pledge letter:
"In signing the Giving Pledge, we have found ourselves reflecting on how taking a public action like this speaks to our personal interpretation of the virtues that define a good life.  We believe that philanthropy is a good choice that is part of living a life that encompasses personal fulfillment and happiness.  Giving – be it our time or our money – makes us feel fulfilled." 

Ruth and Bill Scott
An Ashland, Nebraska native, Bill Scott joined Buffett Partnership in 1959 and Berkshire Hathaway in 1970, where he remained until he retired in the early 1990s. Ruth Scott also grew up in Ashland. She went on to be a school teacher and founded the Omaha Bridge Studio.

Hamdi Ulukaya
Hamdi Ulukaya founded Chobani in upstate New York in 2005 and launched Chobani Greek Yogurt in 2007. In just five years, Chobani became the No. 1–selling Greek Yogurt brand in the U.S. with more than a billion dollars in annual sales – making Chobani one of the fastest-growing companies in history. Led by his passion to democratize better food for more people, Hamdi's vision for Chobani has effectively transformed an entire food category.

Hamdi sits on the boards of the American Turkish Council, Turkish American Society, Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Pathfinder Village for down syndrome.  He is a Vice Chair of the Corporate Fund Board of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and a member of the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE). He was named the 2013 Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur Of The Year and also earned the Small Business Administration's Entrepreneurial Success Award. Hamdi is a passionate philanthropist and has pledged to give 10% of profits to charity.

Excerpt from Giving Pledge letter:
"Today, I dedicate my signing of the Giving Pledge to my mother and I am publicly committing the majority of my personal wealth—along with everything else I can do—to help refugees and help bring an end to this humanitarian crisis."  

Sunny and Sherly Varkey
Sunny Varkey is the founder of Gems Education, the world's leading K-12 education provider. From a single school in Dubai it now operates in 19 countries with 13,000 teaching professionals on staff. He passionately believes education is the most important issue in the world today. Mr Varkey is also the founder of the Varkey Foundation, dedicated to improving lives through education and particularly supporting the teaching profession. The Foundation trains teachers around the world and in 2014 he launched the Global Teacher Prize, a $1 million prize to celebrate the teaching profession. He is a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and serves as a commissioner on the Broadband Commission for Digital Development.

Excerpt from Giving Pledge letter:
"I am delighted to sign the Giving Pledge.  I was fortunate that I grew up in a family where charity was ingrained in us from a very early age. Even when my father earned a small amount, a large percentage was shared with the community we lived in, sometimes at the cost of our own comfort. To this day, our underlying philosophy remains that good giving 'pinches', meaning that the sacrifice you make has to be felt. Therein lies the appeal of the Giving Pledge to my family."

Sir Ian Wood
Born and educated in Aberdeen, Ian Wood graduated from Aberdeen University in 1964 with a First Class Honours Degree in Psychology. He now has six Honorary Degrees from various Scottish Universities. He built up John Wood Group in the North Sea oil industry and when he retired in October 2012 it employed 42,000 people in 50 countries worldwide with annual sales of US$7bn. He has had many awards for business achievements and services and also more recently for his philanthropic activities.  He is currently Chancellor of Robert Gordon University. He is Chairman of The Wood Foundation, a Scottish-based charity with a global outlook including significant activities in supporting smallholder farmers in the tea industries in Tanzania and Rwanda. He was awarded the CBE in the 1982 New Year's Honours List and a Knighthood in 1994.

Excerpt from Giving Pledge letter:
"My family and I have always shared the view that, in this global world, we have an underlying responsibility for each other, whether our neighbour at home or wider humanity across the globe."

 

SOURCE The Giving Pledge



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