Eli and Edythe Broad
Eli and Edythe Broad have spent their lifetime giving back. After creating shareholder wealth by providing homebuilding and retirement savings services through the two Fortune 500 companies he created—KB Home and SunAmerica, Inc.—Eli Broad and Edythe are now devoting their time, energy and resources to philanthropy.
As the child of immigrant parents, Eli was instilled with the values of hard work, education and the dream that anything was possible. He and Edythe both attended Detroit public schools, and then he attended Michigan State University, graduating with a degree in accounting and becoming the youngest CPA in the state’s history. While working for two years as an accountant, Eli saw his homebuilding clients making much more than he was, and he and his wife’s cousin’s husband decided that they, too, could build houses.
Eli and Donald Kaufman founded Kaufman and Broad with the simple idea that if they built houses without basements (the widespread use of gas heating rendered basements to store coal unnecessary), they could offer homes with mortgage payments that were lower than the rent for a two-bedroom apartment. The first weekend in 1957, they priced their houses at $13,740. They sold out that same weekend.
Kaufman and Broad grew rapidly, becoming the first homebuilder to be traded on the American and New York stock exchanges. Realizing that the homebuilding industry was cyclical, Eli looked to diversify the business, and in 1971, Kaufman and Broad acquired a small life insurance company for $52 million that they eventually transformed into a retirement savings empire. With the merger of SunAmerica into AIG in 1999—at the sales price of $18 billion—Eli stepped down as CEO and turned his attention to full-time philanthropy.
The Broads had created a family foundation in the 1960s as a way to support their charitable interests and causes. But with their financial success from the sale of SunAmerica, the Broads focused their charitable giving in a new style of investing that was more akin to their business acumen: venture philanthropy.
An entrepreneur at heart, Eli has applied his same spirit of creating new enterprises to the family’s approach to philanthropy. Today, The Broad Foundations, which include The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and The Broad Art Foundation, have assets of $2.1 billion. Their mission is to advance entrepreneurship for the public good in education, science and the arts.
A few examples of the Broad's extensive philanthropy include the Broad Art Center at UCLA, the Broad Stage at Santa Monica College, the Broad Contemporary Art Museum at LACMA, the Broad Center for the Biological Sciences at Cal Tech, the Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools, and the Broad Prize for Urban Education. The Broads are currently building the Broad Museum in downtown Los Angeles, which will feature their acclaimed contemporary art collection.
Eli has held numerous leadership roles on boards around the country. He was the Founding Chairman and Life Trustee of The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and a Life Trustee of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the California Institute of Technology, and The Museum of Modern Art in New York. Eli is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
In 2012, Eli authored the book The Art of Being Unreasonable: Lessons in Unconventional Thinking.
The Broads are among the nation’s wealthiest individuals who have signed The Giving Pledge, an initiative launched by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. Through taking The Giving Pledge, the Broads have committed to giving the majority of their wealth to the philanthropic causes and charitable organizations of their choice either during their lifetimes or after their deaths. To read the Broads’ reasons for signing The Giving Pledge, click here.
David Rockefeller Award
Museum of Modern Art, 2009
Carnegie Medal of of Philanthropy
Carnegie Foundation, 2007
Chevalier in the National Order of the Legion of Honor
Republic of France, 1994