The Philanthropy Roundtable is pleased to have presented Bernie Marcus with the 2012 William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership. The Simon Prize honors the ideals and principles that guided Mr. Simon’s giving, including personal responsibility, resourcefulness, volunteerism, scholarship, individual freedom, faith in God, and helping people to help themselves.
In June 1979, Mr. Marcus and his partners opened a home improvement store in Atlanta. The Home Depot grew from that single store to one of the most spectacular entrepreneurial successes in recent history. Mr. Marcus led the company for more than two decades, serving as chairman until his retirement in 2002.
But Mr. Marcus was a philanthropist long before he was an entrepreneur. “My mother,” he writes, “used to take ice cream money away from my brothers and sister and me—often against our will—and give it to charities. Her sincere belief was, ‘The more you give, the more you get.’ How right she was.”
Over the years, his giving has taken many forms. Mr. Marcus was the driving force behind the Georgia Aquarium—the largest in the world—which has generated roughly $6 billion for the greater Atlanta metropolitan area. He led the creation of the Israel Democracy Institute, a nonpartisan, Jerusalem-based think tank that puts some of Israel’s best minds to work on the long-term challenges facing the country. With a focus on the health of children and military veterans, he has long supported medical research, making major contributions in the areas of autism and neurological, spinal, and brain injury.
Mr. Marcus’ most recent major endeavor is the Job Creators Alliance, a group of business leaders seeking to promote and preserve free enterprise for succeeding generations. “I believe in free enterprise,” says Marcus. “It’s what made our success possible. And I want to ensure its strength, so that free enterprise can provide the opportunity for success to millions of other people, too.”
Mr. Marcus will receive the William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership at the Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida, during a special dinner at the 2012 Annual Meeting of The Philanthropy Roundtable.
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The Philanthropy Roundtable is greatly honored to have been asked by the William E. Simon Foundation to administer the William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership. The purpose of the prize is to highlight the power of philanthropy to promote positive change and to inspire others to support charities that achieve genuine results. The prize is intended to honor living philanthropists who have shown exemplary leadership through their own charitable giving, either directly or through foundations they have created. The prize honors the ideals and principles which guided the many philanthropic initiatives of William E. Simon, the late financier, philanthropist, and Secretary of the Treasury. These ideals include personal responsibility, resourcefulness, volunteerism, scholarship, individual freedom, faith in God, and helping people to help themselves.
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