What the Valley's big philanthropists are doing - East Valley Tribune: News

What the Valley's big philanthropists are doing

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Posted: Friday, June 30, 2006 6:11 am | Updated: 2:34 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The announcement this week of Warren Buffet’s contribution of about $1.5 billion a year to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is drawing a round of applause from some of the Valley’s biggest corporate donors. Here are some the largest donors, but they represent only a small portion of the individual donors and agencies involved in philanthropy in the Valley.

“Not only are the Valley’s philanthropists happy about Bill Gates and Warren Buffet getting together, but there is speculation that it will encourage other business people to get more directly involved with their employees and companies when it comes to giving,” said Madia Logan, director of communications for the Arizona Grant Makers Forum, 2201 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix.

Here are some the largest donors, but they represent only a small portion of the individual donors and agencies involved in philanthropy in the Valley.


W.P. Carey in 2002 gave $50 million to Arizona State University, thus creating the W.P. Carey School of Business. The New York City-based entrepreneur said he is interested in helping the Valley because his maternal grandfather, John Samuel Armstrong, was the legislative founder of ASU, then known as Tempe Normal School.

He started his foundation in 1980, benefitting mostly educational programs and universities. “He’s an admirer of Warren Buffet and Bill Gates,” said Juliana Harris, executive director of the W.P. Carey Foundation.


Jerry Bisgrove, chief executive officer of Stardust Real Estate headquartered in Scottsdale and founder of the Stardust Charitable Group, has contributed more than $70 million to agencies in Arizona since creating the trust fund in 1993. He is ranked among the largest private donors in the Valley, according to the Arizona Grant Makers Forum.

“The joining of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet is a phenomenal thing,” said Bisgrove. “They both understand the need for giving.”


The $600 million trust was created by Virginia G. Piper in 1995 and has since given an average $26 million in grants a year, nearly all in Maricopa County, including $15 million for the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center in Scottsdale. The philanthropist, originally from Chicago, married Paul Galvin, founder of Motorola, who died in 1959.

She directed Galvin’s foundation and, in 1969, married Ken Piper and moved to the Valley. Among other benefactors of the trust fund include a $500,000 grant to the Mesa Performing Arts Center and a $297,000 gift to Experience Core of Tempe, a program that provides experienced seniors to teach classes in elementary schools.


Last year, Fulton Homes, a company founded by Tempe native Ira Fulton, donated $100 million to Arizona State University, the largest donation in ASU’s history. The Fultons also gave $72 million to Brigham Young University. Business Week Magazine listed the couple among the 50 Most Generous Philanthropists along with Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. “I love my state and the state doesn’t have enough money to fund education,’’ Ira Fulton said.


The Herberger family through the years has contributed millions of dollars to Arizona State University, fine arts, including the new Phoenix Art Museum, Arizona Theatre Company, Herberger Theater, Scottsdale Center for the Arts and the Salvation Army and more than 30 parks in Phoenix.

Katherine started the Herbeger Foundation. The couple have died, but their children have made contributions to ASU through the Herberger Foundation, Herberger Enterprises and the Arizona Community Foundation.

“I feel good knowing that my gifts of time and money are making a difference in the community, and hopefully shaping spiritual and moral values,” the late Katherine Herberger once said.


Sam Garvin, chairman of the Continental Promotion Group, contributed $60 million to the Thunderbird, The Garvin School of International Management with campuses nationally and internationally, including Glendale.

“Sam and Rita Garvin know the value of service and leadership within their communities and have demonstrated their commitment to education through their philanthropy,’’ said Richard Tollefson, vice president for Institutional Advancement and Director of Development at Thunderbird.


Arizona’s contributions from public and private agencies from 1993 to 2002 increased by 96 percent, going from 436 to 855 in the number of public and private foundations, said Marissa Theisen, president of the Arizona Grant Makers Forum, an agency that coordinates philanthropic programs.

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