History | October 30, 2017 10:34 am

Julius Rosenwald Was the Philanthropist We All Should Aspire to Be

His generosity changed American history — but you’d never know it.

Though his charitable contributions did not get the same type of press as his philanthropic counterparts, Julius Rosenwald, alongside Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, was a businessman who permanently shaped the concept of philanthropy as we understand it today, according to the Wall Street Journal.

A modest and non-controversial man, Rosenwald made his fortune investing in Sears when it was still a fledgling company in need of cash. Pulling from Hasia R. Diner’s Julius Rosenwald: Repairing the World, the WSJ points out that Rosenwald quickly amassed his fortune, then donated what would be approximately $2 billion today to issues he found important. These included many projects in Chicago, as well as the prioritization of funding for African-American primary and secondary education in the South.

Why haven’t you ever heard of him? Diner notes he insisted upon his foundation’s closing after his death; he also opposed putting his name on projects. For anyone considering philanthropic work, the WSJ suggests: “Peruse Ms. Diner’s biographical portrait and study Julius Rosenwald’s noble example.”