Immigrant philanthropists are an overlooked force in this country. Who are they, and what causes do they give to?
He was a philanthropist you should know but probably don’t. A steel magnate and global entrepreneur, he provided high school, middle school, and college scholarships for 100,000 students, some of whom called him “Grandpa.”
He helped build elementary schools in rural areas, and his nine-figure donations put his name on policy institutes and a museum hall. Long before the Giving Pledge, he promised to give away his wealth, and he regularly put tens of millions of dollars into one of several foundations he controlled.
Yet the death of 88-year-old Cyrus Tang this summer caused hardly a ripple. “Nobody knew what Cyrus was doing. It was all under the radar,” says Stewart Kwoh, head of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles, an organization that Tang supported.
Tang is illustrative of a type of big donor often overlooked today: the immigrant philanthropist. A Chinese-American, he left Hong Kong in 1950 and attended a small college outside Philadelphia before becoming an industry titan. Hundreds, if not thousands, like him – from the Far East, the Middle East, Africa, South America, and more – are donating millions to charity each year. Yet unlike women or tech giants or Wall Street players, immigrants are not a class of donors studied for their influence or giving habits.