Michael and Susan Dell
Michael and Susan Dell
Amount Donated: More than $1.23bn since 1999.
Philanthropic Causes: Children & community initiatives.
Region of Philanthropic Focus: U.S., India, South Africa.
Ranking: Michael is rank #35 on Forbes World’s Billionaires. The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation is rank #1 on the ABJ list of charitable foundations.
Net Worth: Forbes lists Michael’s net worth at $22.3bn.
Source of Wealth: Technology.
The Michael and Susan Dell foundation is currently considered as one of the largest foundations in the world in terms of giving, with over $100m annually to children and community initiatives in the US and around the world.
Michael Dell made his fortune through his computer company, Dell Inc. As a child, Michael was highly intelligent, taking a high school equivalency exam at the age of 8. Immediately upon receiving his first computer, an Apple II, Michael disassembled it to see how it worked. He began his business by selling upgrade kits for computers whilst he was at university.
In 1992 at age 27, Dell became the youngest CEO of a company to be ranked in the Fortune 500 list. 10 years after marrying Susan Lieberman, the two established the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation in 1999. The couple’s giving originally lacked focus but was later concentrated when they had children and, as Susan herself stated in an interview with ForbesLife, “decided our giving was bigger than just the two of us”. As such, the foundation largely focuses on Education and the community of Austin, Texas. 51 year old Dell and his wife currently reside in Austin with their four children. The foundation is now estimated to be worth around $1 billion.
Even before starting the foundation, Michael and Susan were actively pursuing philanthropic causes. They helped to fund a number of projects in their local area, working alongside organisations within health care, science, the arts, youth centres and Jewish institutions. Since the foundation was established, it has provided more than $65m in grants to three health-related organizations; the Michael & Susan Dell Centre for Advancement of Healthy Living, the Dell Paediatric Research Institute, and the Dell Children’s Medical Centre.
The couple have also funded several local community projects including a new computer science building for the University of Texas at Austin campus. They also created the Dell Medical School, which will begin enrolling students in 2016. Additionally, they have pledged $1m per year to improve the Austin and Travis County community health quality and access programs for the next 10 years. Recently, the couple also gave $25m to the Seaton Healthcare Family to
further fund a teaching hospital which is due to open in 2017.
Aside from her work with the foundation, Susan Dell also serves as a trustee of the Children’s Medical Centre Foundation of Central Texas and is a board member of the Cooper Institute. The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation is considered to be Susan’s ‘baby’ and she is generally seen as the ‘driving force’ behind the foundation, growing from $282m to $1bn under her direction.
The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation believe that ‘true progress and transformative, sustainable change is the product of time, hard work, and a willingness to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those who live and breathe the challenges we aim to overcome’. Having grown from improving children’s health care and education in Texas, the foundation aims to help children on a global scale.
When asked about the other philanthropic causes he was involved in, Michael described the foundation’s objective as needing “to understand problems and make sure that we get results, and that those are sustainable improvements” within children’s lives. In an interview with ForbesLife Magazine in 2012 about giving away $100m, Susan said of a letter she had received from a student in a college program funded by the foundation “When I get a letter that tells me I changed this person’s life, well, that resonates more than anything.”