Sillerman Family Makes $10 Million Gift to Heller to Begin New Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy

November 16, 2007

In hopes of empowering a growing generation of philanthropists to become social entrepreneurs, Robert F.X. ’69 and Laura Sillerman’s Tomorrow Foundation has made a $10 million gift to the Heller School at Brandeis University to establish the Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy.

The Sillerman Center will serve as a powerful resource to strengthen social justice philanthropy with assistance to philanthropists and family foundations as that sector grapples with questions about making significant impacts.

The Sillerman Center will provide research-supported advice on effective grant-making strategies, develop best practices, and help successful ventures reach scale. In addition, the center will host roundtables with leading members of the donor community, offer executive education opportunities, and support students who wish to focus their research and policy studies on challenges in the philanthropic sector.

“We thank the Sillermans for their generous gift to establish the Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy at Brandeis,” said Brandeis President Jehuda Reinharz, PhD ’72. “It is appropriate that this center, which seeks to help philanthropies extend their reach to impact the greatest number of people, is based at Brandeis. Since its founding, Brandeis has been committed to social justice.”

The gift is the largest Brandeis has ever received from an alumnus and one of the biggest in school history. Robert Sillerman, the chairman and chief executive officer of CKX Inc., graduated from Brandeis in 1969. Robert and his wife, Laura, established the Tomorrow Foundation in 1999.

“I was immensely fortunate to be a child of the 1960s at Brandeis, where I formed a strong sense of social consciousness,” Robert Sillerman said. “Laura and I hope that this gift inspires others from our generation to make similar donations. Our generation has the responsibility to follow through on the ideals we voiced in our youth, and to attempt to change the world in ways we could only imagine in the 1960s. It is our time now to give generously and decisively.”

The Sillerman Center will be directed by Heller School Professor Andrew Hahn, PhD ’78, who works closely with foundations and donors to maximize the value and effectiveness of their philanthropic investments.

“An analyst famously said that most philanthropy is built on little more than ‘intuition, trust, and a great river of money,’ ” Hahn said. “At the Sillerman Center, our goal is to harness the power of that ‘river’ to help family foundations improve the lives of the most vulnerable members of our society.”

“In an era of declining government support for initiatives that benefit the disadvantaged, the Sillerman Center will promote an understanding of the importance of philanthropy and define new mechanisms for achieving lasting positive change in society,” said Stuart Altman, the dean of the Heller School and the Sol C. Chaikin Professor of National Health Policy.

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