Bruce Levenson: Investing in the Next Generation of Philanthropists

Introduction

Today, many people recognize Bruce Levenson’s name as the co-owner of the Atlanta Hawks and as someone who has contributed significantly to the business world as a co-founder of United Communications Group. His investments encompass far more than commercial concerns, however.

Together with Karen Levenson, he has made a commitment to change the world of philanthropy itself in a significant way, by placing a new focus on the manner in which the next generation of nonprofit leaders will conduct the activities of philanthropic organizations. This important shift in emphasis promises to continue impacting the world of charitable giving for many, many years. It represents a significant and important shift in thinking about the ways to enhance society, a process change. The story of how this far-sighted mindset came about will interest many people.

From One Donation, a Cascade of Contributions

Bruce Levenson did not begin his philanthropic activities operating on such a large scale. Instead, for many years both Bruce and Karen Levenson themselves contributed time and funds to improve a variety of causes. For example, Mr. Levenson donated money to build and operate the U. S. Holocaust Museum. His generosity towards that institution earned him the honor of being considered a founding donor. And both Bruce and Karen offered their own time and effort on behalf of numerous other worthy causes as well.

A few years ago, Bruce Levenson expanded the process of giving a step further by investing in the education of children. He established a private foundation (called the SEED Foundation) that furnishes money to offer excellent private boarding school educations to under-served children, youngsters who would otherwise never enjopy the opportunity to attend top ranked programs at a formative age. Many wealthy families send their offspring to these types of exclusive academic institutions. Mr. Levenson’s idea to send gifted but financially challenged children into these venues to some extent broadened the scope of his philanthropic work. His investment in the lives of young people will likely continue paying dividends throughout their future careers.

Then, recently, his philanthropic efforts expanded much further, evolving into a type of institutional transformation process. Bruce and Karen Levenson donated very generously to the University of Maryland Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership. They hope to impact all of the students at the University of Maryland through programs originating there. Philanthropy itself will benefit from these changes. Future philanthropists will emerge.