Lululemon Founders Donate Nearly $76 Million to Conserve and Expand Canadian Park


An overview of notable donations compiled by the The Chronicle:

British Columbia Parks Foundation

Chip and Summer Wilson promised about $75.9 million through their family foundation, the Wilson 5 Foundation, to conserve and expand parks in British Columbia, Canada. The non-profit organization will use the money to match donations from others and to buy forests, mineral rights and other lands which it will turn into a national park that indigenous groups will manage and use to generate income.

Chip Wilson is an American-Canadian businessman who has dual citizenship and founded Lululemon Athletica, an athletic apparel company in Vancouver, British Columbia. Summer Wilson, former chief designer at Lululemon, founded imagine1day, a charity that works with the Ethiopian public education system and its government education offices to help Ethiopian children access an education without foreign aid from here. 2030.

University of California at Santa Barbara

Bay Area billionaires Marc and Lynne Benioff donated $60 million to establish the Benioff Laboratory of Ocean Sciences. Of the total, $50 million will go toward expanding the lab’s research programs, and the remaining $10 million will be used to renovate the university’s Marine Biotechnology Laboratory, an ocean research facility. The building will be renamed for the Benioffs.

Marc Benioff founded and runs, a customer relationship management provider and web-based IT company in San Francisco. The couple have already given a total of $28 million to the university, including $10 million in 2015 to create the Benioff Ocean Initiative. Their latest donation extends this program to the new Ocean Science Laboratory.

The Benioffs donated $1.5 million in 2019 to the Sustainable Oceans Alliance, a coalition of leaders under 35 that focuses on developing new and potentially profitable ideas to protect and rehabilitate the ocean. They are also long-time donors to various causes, primarily in the Bay Area. They appeared on the The Chronicle’s annual Philanthropy 50 list of the largest donors eight times since 2010.

University of Pennsylvania Basser Center for BRCA

Mindy and Jon Gray gave $55 million to create the Basser Cancer Interception Institute, where researchers will work to develop drugs and other treatments to stop inherited cancers like breast, ovary, pancreas and prostate in the early stages.

Jon Gray is president and chief operating officer of the Blackstone Group, a private equity firm in New York, and chairman of Hilton Worldwide Holdings, a hotel and resort company. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English and business from the university in 1992. Mindy Gray is a former marketing manager at Edwin Schlossberg, an exhibit design firm. She was an editor at Ziff Davis Publishing earlier in her career. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the university in 1992.

Including their latest donation, the Grays have given the university more than $125 million, including the $25 million gift that established the Basser Center in 2012 in honor of Mindy’s sister, Faith Basser. , who died at age 44 of BRCA-related ovarian cancer.

University of North Carolina School of Medicine

William and Dana Starling engaged $25 million to the Department of Psychiatry to create the UNC Suicide Prevention Institute, which will expand and improve patient care and house research programs aimed at better understanding the neurobiology of suicide and how suicide can be prevented.

The Starlings said in a press release that they were giving the gift to honor the memory of their sons, Tyler and Gregory, who both died by suicide.

“Our two children are gone, and it’s important to recognize their wonderful, short lives,” said William Starling. “I don’t know what else to do but to help other families who may have difficulty with their own children later on. We want to recognize our children, and this is a special way of doing it.

William Starling is CEO of Synecor, which invests in and manages new life science companies. He also co-founded and later sold several medical device companies. He earned a degree in business administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1975.

water for people

Billionaire MacKenzie Scott gave $15 million to support the non-profit organization’s efforts to provide sustainable access to safe drinking water, sanitation services and hygiene programs for more than 200 million people worldwide by 2030. L he organization works closely with local leaders and governments in Latin America, Asia and Africa to help build sustainable drinking water and sanitation systems.

Scott is a novelist who helped start online retail giant Amazon with her former husband, Jeff Bezos. She has given more than $12.8 billion in mostly unlimited donations to charity since 2020 and has directed much of that money to nonprofits that don’t typically receive multi-million dollar gifts. dollars and charitable organizations that help underserved or neglected populations. She appeared on the The Chronicle’s Philanthropy 50 list of the biggest donors of 2020.

Texas Tech Athletics

John and Tracy Sellers donated $11 million and spent $10 million building the Dustin R. Womble Football Center and the new Jones AT&T Stadium South Area. The remainder of the donation will be used to improve Rocky Johnson Field, where the university’s softball team plays its games.

John Sellers co-founded and is co-CEO of Double Eagle Holdings, an oil and gas exploration company in Fort Worth and Midland, Texas. He played on the football team and graduated from college in 2004. Tracy Sellers also graduated from Texas Tech in 2004. She played on the college softball team.

University of Alabama at Birmingham

J. Frank Barefield Jr. donated $10 million to be split equally between the Criminal Justice Department at the College of Arts and Sciences and an entrepreneurship program at the Collat ​​School of Business. The Criminal Justice Department and the Entrepreneurship Program are named after the donor.

Barefield is president of Abbey Residential, a property management company in Birmingham, Ala. He is president of Crime Stoppers of Metro Alabama, a nonprofit organization that operates anonymous crime tip lines and offers cash rewards for information that leads to the arrest of wanted people. individuals in Alabama. He graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in finance and later earned an MBA there. He previously worked in investment banking and as an accountant before founding the property company that would later become Abbey Residential.

Climate Emergency Fund

Adam McKay is engaged $4 million to support the nonprofit organization’s grantmaking to climate activists. McKay is a screenwriter, director and producer of television and film. He is an executive producer of the HBO television show Succession and directed the film Don’t look up. He also co-wrote and directed Presenter: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and many other movies. He sits on the association’s board of directors.

To learn more about other major donations, see our gift database of a million dollars or more, which is updated regularly.


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