updated 12:20 pm EDT, Fri May 24, 2013
Apple co-founder, wife gave money to causes for over 20 years
A report in The New York Times on Steve Jobs' widow and anonymous charitable giving in Silicon Valley has revealed that Steve Jobs was more involved in philanthropic causes than previously believed. Mostly through the efforts of his wife, Laureen Powell-Jobs, Jobs funneled money through her charitable LLC in order to give money to causes selectively and anonymously. Powell-Jobs is well-known for her involvement in various causes.
Powell-Jobs has a long history of contributing to and leading educational organizations, and has recently been more publicly involved in immigration policy -- particularly the DREAM Act -- as well as nutrition and conservation. In the NYT piece, she described her and Jobs' approach to charitable giving as being "really careful about amplifying the great work of others in every way that we can, and we don't like attaching our names to things."
She revealed that she and Jobs had been actively involved in selected giving for more than 20 years, ironically discrediting earlier reporting in the same newspaper, which in 2011 painted a picture of Steve Jobs as an uncaring billionaire who never contributed to causes, in spite of Jobs' direct involvement and approval of US frontman Bono's (product) RED initiative fighting AIDs in Africa. Later, current CEO Tim Cook detailed both past and present charitable efforts Apple has made over the years, ranging from donating computers to the 9/11 families to a Cook-initiated program (from just before Jobs' death) where Apple would match charitable contributions by employees to a wide variety of supported charities.
Bono additionally noted that Apple has been the largest contributor to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, giving tens of millions towards HIV testing and related services. Jobs was also behind a $50 million donation to Stanford hospitals, where he sought treatment for his pancreatic cancer, and likely gave other money to the college due to his close relationship to the institution.
Jobs clearly wanted to keep his contributions private, and even refused to discuss the subject with his biographer. He also didn't participate in Bill Gates' "Giving Pledge," which encourages super-rich individuals to donate their fortunes to charity. Since his death, Powell-Jobs has taken a more public role in advocating for causes -- serving on the White House Council for Community Solutions, taking a position on the governing board of Stanford, and still serving as president of the education-promotion organization College Track, which encourages inner-city and minority youth to complete college.