Emily Tow is president, executive director, and on the board of directors to her family’s nonprofit the Tow Foundation. Emily has guided the Tow Foundation to focus more on criminal justice matters in recent years, funding projects that support releasing prisoners early and ending cash bail. Under her guidance, the Tow Foundation donates predominantly to left-of-center nonprofits and causes.
Emily Tow has been president and executive director of the Tow Foundation since 1995 and on the board of directors since its inception in 1988.  Previously, Tow was on the board of trustees at Barnard College where she graduated with a B.A. in history in 1988.  After college, Emily Tow worked for her father’s business and later went to teach outdoor education in New Zealand before returning to run the Tow Foundation in 1995.  Emily Tow is also on the board of trustees at New York Public Radio and the Marshall Project as well as the advisory committee of the American Theatre Wing. 
The Tow Foundation is the family nonprofit started in 1988 by Emily Tow’s parents, Leonard and Claire Tow.  Leonard Tow made his fortune forming cable television company Century Communications in cable television’s infancy in the 1970s, later selling it in when it was the fifth largest cable company in the U.S.  Initially, the foundation’s funding was unstructured and guided by personal passions of family members.  After Emily Tow began running the organization, the funding became more structured and placed an emphasis on social issues involving the criminal justice system and reform. 
Tow Foundation now funds projects focused on four primary areas: justice initiatives, medical issues, cultural institutions, and higher education. The Tow Foundation continues to donate to Vera Institute of Justice, a group seeking to defund the police and criticized ending cash bail as not going far enough to release those arrested.  Tow Foundation funded several groups that pushed for passage of a new “Less is More” law in New York that will end jail time for most non-violent parole violators in the state.  Former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) appointed Emily Tow to the New York State Juvenile Justice Advisory Group. 
The Tow Foundation, in 2014, granted the University of New Haven money to establish the Tow Youth Justice Institute to study juvenile justice programs.  In 2016, Emily Tow became a Bartels Fellow at the University of New Haven to discuss philanthropy and the power to impact system change.  In 2017, Emily Tow received an honorary doctorate in criminal justice from the University of New Haven. 
In 2014, the Tow Foundation granted Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health with a grant to view incarceration as a public health issue.  The Tow Foundation has funded projects claiming racism in health care.  The foundation continues to fund journalist programs and students, theater and art programs, and scholarships for medical and journalism students. 
As of 2019, the Tow Foundation has $220,995,668 in total assets.  In 2019 the foundation raised $13,280,104 in revenue and had $22,725,604 in expenses.  This includes $19,311,222 in grants.  Among other left-progressive and left-of-center grant recipients from the Tow Foundation are Brennan Center for Justice, Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth, Children’s Defense Fund, Correctional Association of New York, The GroundTruth Project, Innocence Project, Justice Policy Institute, JustLeadership USA, Juvenile Law Center, Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice, National Juvenile Defender Center, National Juvenile Justice Network, The Opportunity Agenda, The Sentencing Project, Youth Represent, and Youth First Initiative. 
In 2021, the Tow Foundation announced an Innovation Fund to grant up to $1 million to three issues affecting children and families: mental health, intervention in schools, and gun violence.  The goal of this new fund is to promote equity and to work with black, indigenous, and people of color.