2007 Paschal Murray Award for Outstanding Philanthropist
Nominated by the AFP Georgia, Greater Atlanta Chapter
In recent years, many businesspeople and entrepreneurs have become tremendous philanthropists, donating generous sums of money to causes around the world. Few, however, have done so with the vision, innovation, impact and hands-on leadership that have become synonymous with the philanthropy of Bernie Marcus.
Mr. Marcus, co-founder of The Home Depot, has given hundreds of millions of dollars to a wide array of charities. While his giving has changed the face of Atlanta and the state of Georgia, his generosity extends to causes and programs across the United States and around the world.
Just a few of his more well-known gifts include a $240-plus million contribution to build the Georgia Aquarium; $17.6 million to the Shepherd Center, which supports gravely injured and disabled people; $15 million for a nanotechnology research facility at Georgia Tech University; $25 million to Autism Speaks; $3.6 million to the Centers for Disease Control Foundation and $1 million to the National Holocaust Museum.
However, it is Mr. Marcus’ approach to philanthropy that is so remarkable. Upon hearing that one of his employees had nowhere to turn for assistance with her son who had development disabilities, he quickly decided that Georgia needed a facility to help such children. After identifying a top organization in the United States already addressing these issues (the Kennedy Krieger Center in Baltimore, Md., which he would later support with a major gift), he led the construction of a similar facility in Atlanta, which would later be renamed the Marcus Institute. Over the years, he has given more than $70 million to the institute, which has served more than 30,000 children.
Mr. Marcus has made sure his philanthropic philosophy has extended to the corporation he helped found. Under his leadership, The Home Depot has become a corporate role model in disability awareness through its hiring practices and by offering merchandise designed for the special needs of the physically challenged population. The corporation received the Western Law Center for Disability Rights Corporate Achievement Award, the 1997 Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities Award for the State of Georgia and the Gold Award of Honor 2000 Employer of the Year from the National Business and Disability Council, among other well-deserved honors. He also implemented the company’s matching gift program and corporate community service projects.
Mr. Marcus not only gives to causes, but he also actively supports them through board leadership and by encouraging others to get involved. For the Georgia Aquarium, he enlisted fellow CEOs to join the project, resulting in seven different major corporate sponsorships. He served as campaign chairman for the Shepherd Center’s successful $15 million expansion campaign, setting the example with a lead gift and encouraging others to follow in his footsteps with a “capping gift.” He personally solicits major donors for gifts, resulting in six-figure contributions for the organizations he supports.
For his extraordinary contributions, involvement and leadership, AFP is pleased to present the 2007 Paschal Murray Award for Outstanding Philanthropist to Bernie Marcus.
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