By SDCN Editor
San Diego, CA–San Diego Foundation received a historic, transformative unrestricted $100 million cash gift Thursday from the estate of local entrepreneur Jay Kahn, the largest-ever gift of its kind to a San Diego nonprofit.
The first grants from Kahn’s gift, which is the third-largest unrestricted gift to a U.S. community foundation, include $150,000 unrestricted grants to 10 San Diego-based music education nonprofits to advance their work with under-resourced children. The intent of the grants is to grow music appreciation in San Diego in memory of Kahn, a classical musician who played clarinet in symphonies at the University of California San Diego and the University of San Diego. The $1.5 million in total grants were awarded at the SDF Board of Governors retreat on February 2.
“Jay Kahn was a compassionate man who loved San Diego and wished for his legacy and estate to be used for the good of San Diego,” said Mark Stuart, president and CEO of the San Diego Foundation. “We had no existing relationship with Jay until we learned that he believed San Diego Foundation would achieve his goal and honor his wishes. We are humbled by this incredible generosity and we will honor Jay by continuing to inspire enduring philanthropy and enable community solutions to improve the quality of life in the San Diego region.”
- A Reason to Survive (ARTS) offers free after-school arts education to South County youth and young people
- Classics 4 Kids provides free live music programming to children at 236 San Diego County schools
- David’s Harp Foundation serves system-affected and homeless youth to achieve academic success through music education
- Guitars and Ukes in the Classroom trains, inspires, and equips educators to engage students in learning through the joy of making music and the power of song
- Heartbeat Music & Performing Arts Academy provides affordable after-school music programs in preparation for enrollment at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)
- San Diego Symphony makes music an integral part of the cultural fabric of the San Diego region
- San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory provides ‘cradle through college’ music education through its flagship ensemble program, neighborhood engagement projects, and early childhood music curriculum
- San Diego Young Artists Music Academy offers programs in vocal, instrumental, choir, dance, and many other positive activities in a healthy and safe environment
- Voices of Our City Choir reconnects San Diego’s unsheltered neighbors with hope and housing through the healing power of music, individualized care, and advocacy
- Young Lions Jazz Conservatory enriches the lives of middle and high school students by inspiring imagination, intellectual curiosity, character, and self-confidence through jazz music instruction
Aside from a portion of Kahn’s gift that will support housing and other strategic plan initiatives, more than $86 million will establish the Jay Kahn Endowment Fund at the San Diego Foundation so that Kahn’s legacy and impact continue to grow and transform San Diego County in perpetuity.
Kahn, who passed away at 90 years old, lived in San Diego’s Ocean Beach neighborhood from 1972 until his death in 2022. He worked in the clothing industry in the San Diego-Tijuana region and amassed his fortune as an entrepreneur, eventually retiring early to manage his personal investment portfolio that included early investments in Price Club, the San Diego-based predecessor to Costco, and Apple.
Kahn’s gift is one of several unsolicited gifts in recent years for San Diego Foundation, including an $8 million gift from American novelist and philanthropist McKenzie Scott in 2020 to the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund.