Much has been made of those successful businessmen who have put their talents to work for philanthropy. Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Oprah Winfrey, and Michael Dell are just a handful of examples of famous and successful people who have worked hard to give their money away.
Of course, corporate philanthropists are not a new phenomenon (e.g. Andrew Carnegie,1835-1919; John D. Rockefeller, 1839-1937; and Cornelius Vander Starr, 1892-1968).
One of the less well-known philanthropists was Julius Rosenwald (1862-1932), whose name is not nearly as famous as that of his partner, Richard Sears. But, in 1895, he became a partner in Sears, Roebuck and Co. Sears, as the company was, and is, known, issued its first mail order catalogue in 1893, offering only watches. Within two years of the new partnership, the Sears mail order catalogue offered clothing, agricultural tools, athletic equipment and table furnishings. In 1908, when Richard Sears retired, Rosenwald became president of the company. He retired in 1924, and was named chairman of the board, a position he held until his death in 1932.
Around 1908, Rosenwald was introduced to William H. Baldwin and Booker T. Washington, two prominent proponents of African-American education. In 1912, he began what was to become a lifetime position on the Board of Directors of the Tuskegee Institute, one of the first educational institutions for African Americans. In addition to endowing Tuskegee, Rosenwald built over 5,000 schools, shops and homes (for teachers) specifically for African-Americans throughout the south. These came to be known as Rosenwald Schools.
When Rosenwald passed away, his philanthropic efforts were continued by his daughter Edith Stern, whose Stern Family Fund was a major contributor to civil right efforts.
In honor of Jewish American Heritage Month (May) Jewish Treats will be highlighting and celebrating exemplary Jewish Americans and exploring interesting points of Jewish American history.
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