The Atlantic Philanthropies
(AP) is a private foundation
A private foundation is a legal entity set up by an individual, a family or a group of individuals, for a purpose such as philanthropy. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest private foundation in the U.S. with over $38 billion in assets...
created in 1982 by US businessman Charles F. "Chuck" Feeney
Charles F. Feeney , is an Irish American businessman and philanthropist and founder of The Atlantic Philanthropies, one of the largest private foundations in the world. He made his fortune as a co-founder with Robert Warren Miller of the Duty Free Shoppers Group...
. The Atlantic Philanthropies grant-making supports health and social projects in Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...
Bermuda is a British overseas territory in the North Atlantic Ocean. Located off the east coast of the United States, its nearest landmass is Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, about to the west-northwest. It is about south of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and northeast of Miami, Florida...
, Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...
, Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...
, South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...
, the United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...
and Viet Nam. It is among the largest foreign charitable donors in each of the countries in which it operates, and is the single largest funder of ageing
Ageing or aging is the accumulation of changes in a person over time. Ageing in humans refers to a multidimensional process of physical, psychological, and social change. Some dimensions of ageing grow and expand over time, while others decline...
and of comprehensive immigration reform in the United States. Since 2007, Atlantic Philanthropies is focused increasingly on social justice
Social justice generally refers to the idea of creating a society or institution that is based on the principles of equality and solidarity, that understands and values human rights, and that recognizes the dignity of every human being. The term and modern concept of "social justice" was coined by...
AP has made grants totaling more than $5 billion since 1982 and plans to spend its remaining $4 billion endowment by 2017. The President and CEO of The Atlantic Philanthropies is Gara LaMarche
Gara LaMarche was the President and CEO of The Atlantic Philanthropies from April 2007 to June 2011. Prior to joining The Atlantic Philanthropies he served as Vice-President and Director of U.S. Programs for The Open Society Institute from 1996-2007...
, formerly of The Open Society Institute
The Open Society Institute , renamed in 2011 to Open Society Foundations, is a private operating and grantmaking foundation started by George Soros, aimed to shape public policy to promote democratic governance, human rights, and economic, legal, and social reform...
who is also a columnist for The Huffington Post
The Huffington Post is an American news website and content-aggregating blog founded by Arianna Huffington, Kenneth Lerer, and Jonah Peretti, featuring liberal minded columnists and various news sources. The site offers coverage of politics, theology, media, business, entertainment, living, style,...
and The Nation
The Nation is the oldest continuously published weekly magazine in the United States. The periodical, devoted to politics and culture, is self-described as "the flagship of the left." Founded on July 6, 1865, It is published by The Nation Company, L.P., at 33 Irving Place, New York City.The Nation...
, as well as a blogger in his own right.
In Fall, 2010 LaMarche laid out the short and long-term goals of Atlantic, including shifts in the organization's funding strategies, in a report titled "Challenge and Change: A Letter from the President
." It also includes financial information for the organization.
The American businessman Charles F. Feeney (also known as Chuck Feeney) established The Atlantic Philanthropies in Bermuda in 1982. Born in 1931 to an Irish-American family from New Jersey, following service with the USAF (1948–1952), Feeney went on to study hotel management at Cornell University
Cornell University is an Ivy League university located in Ithaca, New York, United States. It is a private land-grant university, receiving annual funding from the State of New York for certain educational missions...
in Ithaca, New York. (In later life, Feeney anonymously donated $600 million to his alma mater.)
Feeney made his fortune in the duty-free business, co-founding Duty Free Shoppers (DFS). Based at ports and airports, DFS rode the post-World War II boom in tourism to became the largest retailer of luxury goods in the world, selling cigarettes, alcohol, perfumes and other luxury items.Feeney himself is noted for his personal modesty and frugal lifestyle.
By the time Forbes magazine listed Feeney as the world's 23rd richest man in 1988, he had already managed to secretly donate his entire fortune. Incorporated in Bermuda, his Atlantic Philanthropies foundation had donated up to $4 billion to charitable causes and he was personally worth no more than $5 million at that time.
Feeney was the biggest charitable donor in American history up to that point, all the while maintaining his anonymity.
Feeney is the subject of a 2007 biography, The Billionaire Who Wasn’t: How Chuck Feeney Secretly Made and Gave Away a Fortune
by Conor O'Clery
Conor O'Clery is an Irish journalist and writer. He was born in Belfast and educated at Queen's University Belfast. He worked for The Irish Times for over 30 years in various positions, including news editor and foreign correspondent based in London, Moscow, Washington, D.C., Beijing and New York...
, [published by PublicAffairs
PublicAffairs is an imprint of the Perseus Books Group, an American book publishing company located in New York City. From PublicAffairs' web site:...
]. Feeney is also the subject of an hour-long TV documentary on Irish television broadcast in May 2009 called Secret Billionaire: The Chuck Feeney Story.
(New Decade, 2009) in which he discusses his rise from modest beginnings to billionaire businessman and the strategy for giving his fortune away while still alive.
"Giving While Living"
Feeney started the Atlantic Philanthropies at age 53 because he believes in a "giving while living" philosophy, which is heavily influenced by Andrew Carnegie
Andrew Carnegie was a Scottish-American industrialist, businessman, and entrepreneur who led the enormous expansion of the American steel industry in the late 19th century...
’s essay, "Wealth"
"Wealth", more commonly known as "The Gospel of Wealth", "the Richest man in the World," is an essay written by Andrew Carnegie in 1889 that described the responsibility of philanthropy by the new upper class of self-made rich...
. In his essay, Carnegie expresses his belief that wealthy people should put their fortune to good use.
Where once donations were made in secret, AP has moved to a transparent communications model in the interests of influencing other wealthy individuals to use some of their enormous wealth to support philanthropy
Philanthropy etymologically means "the love of humanity"—love in the sense of caring for, nourishing, developing, or enhancing; humanity in the sense of "what it is to be human," or "human potential." In modern practical terms, it is "private initiatives for public good, focusing on quality of...
and worthwhile causes of their choosing during their lifetimes.
A complete database of AP's grants is available from its website.
explaining the foundation's "Giving While Living" approach to philanthropy was issued by the foundation in 2010. It profiles philanthropists who give in this manner and the impact of their grant-making.
The Atlantic Philanthropies actively seeks out suitable organizations to sponsor. Previously, the secrecy of the process prevented mass applications. Atlantic now accepts proposals by invitation. For the complete policy, see the organization's funding policy.
AP concentrates its donations in four strategic programme areas: Ageing
, Children & Youth Population Health
and Reconciliation & Human Rights
As of 2007, The Atlantic Philanthropies had distributed $2 billion to recipients in the US, over $1 billion to Ireland and more than $200 million each to Australia and Vietnam. Atlantic has completed a number of major capital projects worldwide
, largely medical and educational facilities.
In Australia, AP has invested up to $250m and is one of the key benefactors to Queensland University, funding a project to build the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN). AP also supported the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB), Queensland Brain Institute as well as the refurbished James and Mary Emelia Mayne Center housing the University of Queensland art collection.
In Northern Ireland, AP has supported the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission
The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission is a non-departmental public body funded through the Northern Ireland Office but operating independently of government as the national human rights institution for Northern Ireland...
in its work to develop and promote proposals for a Bill of Rights
A bill of rights is a list of the most important rights of the citizens of a country. The purpose of these bills is to protect those rights against infringement. The term "bill of rights" originates from England, where it referred to the Bill of Rights 1689. Bills of rights may be entrenched or...
for the region. It has also funded a coalition of civil society groups, the Bill of Rights Consortium. It funded Big Telly, the longest established professional theatre company in Northern Ireland, to produce a theatre program for seniors called "Spring Chickens." The initiative led to performances across Northern Ireland, and was scripted and produced by older people.
Republic of Ireland
AP has invested over $1 billion in third-level education on the island of Ireland, funding research facilities at the University of Limerick
The University of Limerick is a university in Ireland near the city of Limerick on the island's west coast. It was established in 1972 as the National Institute for Higher Education, Limerick and became a university by statute in 1989 in accordance with the University of Limerick Act 1989...
and Dublin City University
Dublin City University is a university situated between Glasnevin, Santry, Ballymun and Whitehall on the Northside of Dublin in Ireland...
as well as a library and sports facility at Trinity College Dublin. AP's grants to Irish education are credited with helping initiate a boom in the Irish economy in the 1990s.
AP has indicated that it will grant €80 million in Ireland in 2009 to children, elderly and human rights projects. Atlantic recently awarded a €1.2 million grant to Barnados, one of Ireland's best-known children charities.
The goals of its Reconciliation & Human Rights Programme in the Republic of Ireland are to strengthen the central human rights infrastructure and to improve access to justice and services for immigrants, people with disabilities and the LGBTI community. One Atlantic grantee, GLEN (Gay and Lesbian Equality Network) recently led a campaign to win civil partnership for gays and lesbians in the Republic of Ireland.
For a comprehensive list of past grants by The Atlantic Philanthropies in Ireland see the Irish Times - list of AP grants (2002)
. More about Atlantic's current funding in the Republic of Ireland is detailed here
Atlantic has invested extensively in South Africa, largely in post-apartheid healing a reconciliation. They have a line of funding dedicated to gay rights in South Africa, which includes an lgbt film festival and a recent report, A Meeting of Queer Minds
Atlantic most recently provided a $17m grant, matched by the South Africa Department of Education, for construction of a Life Sciences facility at the University of the Western Cape. The facility houses a National Bioinformatics Institute, a Water Research Programme, South Africa’s only Male Fertility Research unit and several university departments.
In March 2009, AP pledged $125 million to the University of California, San Francisco
The University of California, San Francisco is one of the world's leading centers of health sciences research, patient care, and education. UCSF's medical, pharmacy, dentistry, nursing, and graduate schools are among the top health science professional schools in the world...
to fund a state-of-the-art medical center at the Mission Bay campus. The single largest grant The Atlantic Philanthropies has ever given, it brings the total amount of support to UCSF to $270 million. The project broke ground in October, 2010.
In 2008-10 AP pledged over $25 million to Health Care for America Now (HCAN)
Health Care for America Now is a progressive political coalition of more than 1,000 organizations that joined together in 2008 in a successful effort to promote legislation to overhaul the United States health care system and extend medical benefits to most of the population that is currently...
to support their efforts to pass the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is a United States federal statute signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. The law is the principal health care reform legislation of the 111th United States Congress...
Partnering with the East Meets West Foundation
East Meets West Foundation is the largest non-governmental organization acting in Vietnam, with additional programs in Southeast Asia, which describes itself as "the foundation for learning, healing and health." It was founded in 1988 by author and humanitarian Le Ly Hayslip, and is based in...
(EMW), The Atlantic Philanthropies is funding the Hue Ophthalmology and Training Center, a $4 million addition to Hue Central Hospital. Due for completion by the end of 2009, the project aims to significantly upgrade treatment of severe eye illnesses. Through another grant, Hue Central Hospital recently was home to the first ever heart transplant successfully completed by Vietnamese doctors.
This is just one of a number of health projects AP has funded in Vietnam. The Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has publicly thanked The Atlantic Philanthropies for helping to improve the country's health system.
- Atlantic Philanthropies
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, commonly referred to as "the ABC" , is Australia's national public broadcaster...
ABC Radio National is an Australia-wide non-commercial radio network run by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.Radio National broadcasts national programming in areas that include news and current affairs, the arts, social issues, science, drama and comedy...
Background Briefing - "Chuck Feeney: Giving While Living - Summer Series", January 4, 2003
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, commonly referred to as "the ABC" , is Australia's national public broadcaster...
News - "Reclusive philanthropist urges the rich to give", August 26, 2007
- Center for Effective Philanthropy "Giving While Living Requires Inspiration and Good Strategy'' - June, 2010