NET WORTH: $1.04 billion
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Drexel Burnham, Knowledge Universe
FUNDING AREAS: Education, Jewish music, and medical research
OVERVIEW: While his older brother Michael is known more for funding prostate cancer research, Lowell Milken's primary interest has always been in education. The brothers support each other's philanthropic causes, but in most cases Lowell seems to be the one who takes the initiative. His philanthropy in education has been recognized by several organizations, and in 2000 he was named one of America's most generous philanthropists by Worth magazine.
BACKGROUND: The younger and less-famous brother of Michael Milken, the Cal Berkeley and UCLA Law graduate has had a lot of time to become involved in philanthropic cause since resigning from the securities firm he worked at with his brother. A lifelong advocate of quality education, Lowell went on to found Knowledge Universe, which has become the largest private provider of early childhood education. Although he and his brother founded the Milken Family Foundation in 1982, Lowell decided to found the Lowell Milken Family Foundation in 1986, separating his charitable work from that of his brother.
EDUCATION: In 1985, Lowell founded the Milken Educator Awards, and this initiative is now one of the largest and longest-running teacher awards programs in the country. The program has honored nearly 2,600 teachers and given out more than $64 million in prize money.
His second major program, the TAP System for Teacher and Student Advancement, was founded in 1999, and it has become so successful that he created the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET), moving the program operations from his private foundation to a public charity. The program's goal is to attract, develop, motivate, and retain highly effective teachers for America's schools. It develops and promotes tools and best practices, gives awards to schools, and works with more than 20,000 teachers across the country. From a monetary perspective, Lowell is responsible for the largest single donation ever to UCLA, at $10 million.
In addition to these two programs, Milken has founded a variety of other programs and institutes, many of which bear his name:
Lowell Milken Center — engages students in educational projects focused on researching unsung heroes, with a goal of fostering respect and understanding among people of all races, religions, and creeds. Since the center's founding in 2007, its programs have reached more than 1 million students in 8,371 schools in all 50 states, with growing global reach. In late 2014, Milken gave $1.5 million to construct a new building for the Lowell Milken Center.
Lowell Milken Institute for Business Law and Policy at UCLA School of Law — helped expand the business law curriculum, along with clinical experience and research opportunities, at his alma mater by providing faculty fellowships, student scholarships, and awards.
High Tech Los Angeles — a charter school made possible by a lead grant from the Lowell Milken Family Foundation.
Milken Scholars Program — provides high school students in New York and Los Angeles with college scholarships, counseling, volunteer opportunities, and preparation for graduate studies.
Mike's Math Club — provides a fun and educational math enrichment curriculum for inner-city elementary schools.
HEALTH: In support of his brother's Prostate Cancer Foundation, Lowell created the Lowell Milken Young Investigator Award for scientists for work in the field of prostate cancer.
ARTS AND CULTURE: A big proponent of preserving his heritage, Lowell founded the Milken Archive of American Jewish Music, which has received more than $20 million from the Milken Family Foundation.
LOOKING FORWARD: While Milken has always been and will likely continue to be strongly focused on education, it took 25 years from his first forays in philanthropy in 1982 until he made any major commitment to international education with the Lowell Milken Center. He recently has started giving support to charter schools as well, so look for Milken to show more support there and to replicate his successes in the United States to tackle education issues internationally.