Non-profit

Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust

Website:

helmsleytrust.org

Location:

NEW YORK, NY

Tax ID:

13-7184401

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)-PF

Budget (2015):

Revenue: $157,352,028
Expenses: $393,072,084
Assets: $5,549,574,544

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust is a private grantmaking foundation which focuses on medical research, the environment, and education. The Trust has focused many of its projects in New York City, but has expanded to include the rest of the United States and some global initiatives in recent years. The Trust has recently been involved in the development of the controversial Common Core curriculum.

History

The Helmsley Charitable Trust is a product of the Harry and Leona Helmsley real estate empire, which began in the 1930s. [1] This empire included a majority share of the Empire State Building, the Park Lane Hotel, and countless other commercial holdings across the United States. [2] When Harry died in 1997, the portfolio was valued at $5 billion. [3] After Harry’s death, Leona began to sell off the portfolio, and the profits from the sales funded the Helmsley Charitable Trust. [4]

The Trust did not begin actively making grants until 2008, following Leona’s death. [5] Leona left the majority of the Helmsley estate to the Trust, and its four trustees were given the authority to decide where the funds would be directed. [6] Since 2008, the Fund has approved $2.449 billion in grants. [7]

Grantmaking Activity

Grants from the Helmsley Charitable Trust are divided into three primary areas: health, conservation, and education. [8] About 60 percent of the Fund’s annual grants are awarded to health programs, while the remaining grants are directed towards education and local environmental projects.

Healthcare

The Hemsley Charitable Trust focuses primarily on health care, both in the United States and abroad.

The “New York Program” is one of the Trust’s earliest initiatives. Targeted specifically in New York City, the program provides low-income New Yorkers with the highest medical needs with comprehensive, long-term healthcare. [9] This project includes partnerships with local homeless shelters to coordinate and share data on high-need patients. [10]

Outside of New York, the Trust funds medical programs in Israel and the Upper Midwest region. Over the past decade, the Trust has given over $240 million to projects and organizations supporting Israel. [11] The Trust’s influence in the Upper Midwest has been even larger. [12] As of February 2019, the Helmsley trust donated almost $400 million to improve healthcare delivery and innovation in rural areas of the Upper Midwest, including $100 million in South Dakota alone. [13] These grants include investing $77 million in eCare programs which connect specialists and experts from a central hub in Sioux Falls to rural hospitals to provide life-saving emergency care. [14]

The Trust has two primary medical research areas: Crohn’s Disease and diabetes. In 2019, the Trust gave a $468,860 donation to McGill University alongside the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and the Klarman Family Foundation. [15] That same year, the Trust gave $4.7 million to the University of California-San Diego for research on Crohn’s Disease. [16] The Foundation gave one of its largest grants to date to the Salk Institute in 2013 in the amount of $42 million to establish the Helmsley Center for Genomic Medicine. [17]

Environmentalism

In recent years, the Trust has begun to focus on environmental issues, giving over $8.1 million to environmentalist projects and organizations in 2019 alone. [18] That same year, the Trust gave a $500,000 grant to the Environmental Defense Fund, which is known for pushing a left-of-center environmentalist agenda around the world. [19] The Trust also gave $1.66 million to the World Wildlife Fund in 2019. [20]

The Trust is also a member of the Environmental Grantmakers Association. Most of its environmental grantmaking thus far has focused on oceans and water security, with a regional focus in Myanmar and the Galapagos. [21]

Education

The Trust routinely gives grants to various universities and research projects, including Duke University, New York University, and Yale University. [22]

Aside from providing support for universities, the Trust is active in supporting K-12 education. The Trust is one of the primary financial backers of controversial Common Core curriculum development, a movement to standardize curriculum across the United States.

The Trust has been one of the main supporters of Common Core. In 2013-2014 alone, the Trust contributed $23.8 million to the development of tools for the implementation of the Common Core curriculum. [23] In 2019, the Trust gave a $2.7 million grant to Student Achievement Partners (SAP). [24] Student Achievement Partners is the group responsible for developing and pushing Common Core State Standards. [25]

People and Funding

The Helmsley Charitable Trust is funded by the proceeds of the Helmsley family’s extensive real estate holdings. [26] As of 2013, the Helmsley foundation is the twelfth largest foundation in the United States. [27]

Now lauded as a philanthropist, Leona Helmsley, the Trust’s namesake and benefactor, lived with some controversy. Nicknamed the “Queen of mean,” Helmsley had a reputation for refusing to pay contractors and harassing employees. [28] In spite of her apparent philanthropy, Helmsley was convicted of evading federal taxes for billing personal expenses to her business in 1988. She served 21 months in prison, after receiving a four year sentence. [29]

When Leona Helmsley passed away, she set no requirements on how her fortune be distributed. It was left to the total discretion of four trustees: family lawyer Sandy Frankel, business associate John Codey, and grandchildren David and Walter Panzirer. [30] Their personal interests have since directed the Fund’s giving.

References

  1. “Our History.” Helmsley Charitable Trust. 2016. Accessed August 06, 2019. https://helmsleytrust.org/history/our-history?dir=previous#slide-1. ^
  2. Pincus, Adam “The End of the Helmsley Era: The Estate of Harry and Leona Poised to Sell Their Final Two NYC Properties.” The Real Deal New York. February 01, 2014. Accessed August 06, 2019. https://therealdeal.com/issues_articles/the-end-of-the-helmsley-era-the-estate-of-harry-and-leona-poised-to-sell-their-final-two-nyc-properties/. ^
  3. Pincus, Adam “The End of the Helmsley Era: The Estate of Harry and Leona Poised to Sell Their Final Two NYC Properties.” The Real Deal New York. February 01, 2014. Accessed August 06, 2019. https://therealdeal.com/issues_articles/the-end-of-the-helmsley-era-the-estate-of-harry-and-leona-poised-to-sell-their-final-two-nyc-properties/. ^
  4. Pincus, Adam “The End of the Helmsley Era: The Estate of Harry and Leona Poised to Sell Their Final Two NYC Properties.” The Real Deal New York. February 01, 2014. Accessed August 06, 2019. https://therealdeal.com/issues_articles/the-end-of-the-helmsley-era-the-estate-of-harry-and-leona-poised-to-sell-their-final-two-nyc-properties/. ^
  5. “Our History.” Helmsley Charitable Trust. 2016. Accessed August 06, 2019. https://helmsleytrust.org/history/our-history?dir=previous#slide-1. ^
  6. “Our History.” Helmsley Charitable Trust. 2016. Accessed August 06, 2019. https://helmsleytrust.org/history/our-history?dir=previous#slide-1. ^
  7. “About Us.” Helmsley Charitable Trust. 2016. Accessed August 06, 2019. https://helmsleytrust.org/about-us. ^
  8. Guttman, Nathan. “Where Does Leona Helmsley’s Money Go? Hint: Not to the Dogs.” The Forward. January 13, 2015. Accessed August 06, 2019. https://forward.com/news/israel/212349/where-does-leona-helmsley-s-money-go-hint-not/. ^
  9. “New York City.” Helmsley Charitable Trust. 2016. Accessed August 06, 2019. https://helmsleytrust.org/programs/place-based-new-york-city. ^
  10. “New York City.” Helmsley Charitable Trust. 2016. Accessed August 06, 2019. https://helmsleytrust.org/programs/place-based-new-york-city. ^
  11. “Our Programs” Helmsley Charitable Trust. 2016. Accessed August 06, 2019. https://helmsleytrust.org/our-programs ^
  12. “Our Programs” Helmsley Charitable Trust. 2016. Accessed August 06, 2019. https://helmsleytrust.org/our-programs ^
  13. “Helmsley Impact Being Felt across State.” Agweek. February 27, 2019. Accessed August 06, 2019. https://www.agweek.com/lifestyle/health/4577447-helmsley-impact-being-felt-across-state. ^
  14. “Helmsley Impact Being Felt across State.” Agweek. February 27, 2019. Accessed August 06, 2019. https://www.agweek.com/lifestyle/health/4577447-helmsley-impact-being-felt-across-state. ^
  15. “McGill University Receives Funding to Create Ethics Resources for Human Cell Atlas.” EurekAlert! June 6, 2019. Accessed August 06, 2019. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-06/czi-mur053119.php. ^
  16. Sisson, Paul. “UCSD Receives $4.7 Million to Study Crohn’s Disease.” May 11, 2019. Accessed August 06, 2019. https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/health/story/2019-05-11/ucsd-receives-4-7-million-to-study-crohns-disease ^
  17. Nero, Mark. “Salk Institute in La Jolla Awarded $25 Million Grant.” Patch. November 21, 2016. Accessed August 06, 2019. https://patch.com/california/lajolla/salk-institute-la-jolla-awarded-25-million-grant. ^
  18. Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990),

    2017, Part Fifteen, Section 3a. ^

  19. Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990),

    2017, Part Fifteen, Section 3a. ^

  20. Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2017, Part Fifteen, Section 3a. ^
  21. Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2017, Part Fifteen, Section 3a. ^
  22. Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2017, Part Fifteen, Section 3a. ^
  23. Gewertz, Catherine. “Teachers’ Unions, Testing Consortia Team Up on Grants From Helmsley Trust.” Education

    Week. January 08, 2014. Accessed August 06, 2019. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2014/01/national_teachers_unions_testi.html. ^

  24. Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2017, Part Fifteen, Section 3a. ^
  25. “About Us.” Achievethecore.org. Accessed August 06, 2019. https://achievethecore.org/about-us. ^
  26. “New York City.” Helmsley Charitable Trust. 2016. Accessed August 06, 2019. https://helmsleytrust.org/programs/place-based-new-york-city. ^
  27. Agovino, Theresa. “IPO Gives Helmsley Trust New Bite.” Crain’s New York Business. November 03, 2013. Accessed August 06, 2019. https://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20131103/NONPROFITS/311039981/ipo-gives-helmsley-trust-new-bite. ^
  28. Gewertz, Catherine. “Teachers’ Unions, Testing Consortia Team Up on Grants From Helmsley Trust.” Education Week. January 08, 2014. Accessed August 06, 2019. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2014/01/national_teachers_unions_testi.html. ^
  29. Nemy, Enid. “Leona Helmsley, Hotel Queen, Dies at 87.” The New York Times. August 20, 2007. Accessed August 07, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/20/nyregion/20cnd-helmsley.html?hp. ^
  30. Guttman, Nathan. “Where Does Leona Helmsley’s Money Go? Hint: Not to the Dogs.” The Forward. January 13, 2015. Accessed August 06, 2019. https://forward.com/news/israel/212349/where-does-leona-helmsley-s-money-go-hint-not/. ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: March - February
  • Tax Exemption Received: May 1, 2000

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2015 Mar Form PF $157,352,028 $393,072,084 $5,549,574,544 $333,095,532 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2014 Mar Form PF $1,200,100,548 $289,230,825 $5,444,213,685 $273,088,556 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2013 Mar Form PF $175,457,200 $326,139,149 $4,241,501,002 $263,649,861 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2012 Mar Form PF $216,694,255 $170,274,392 $4,062,077,909 $188,526,206 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2011 Mar Form PF $777,849,582 $221,893,508 $4,143,880,203 $196,437,493 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust

    230 PARK AVE RM 659
    NEW YORK, NY 10169-0698