Our Founder Reflects

Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation

Original Foundation Logo

I remember making the decision to start the Foundation while gathered for dinner at our kitchen table in Tulsa.

“We involved our kids because, as a family, we thought that it was vitally important to give back to others. Just four years earlier, Charlie had been diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). We knew his time would be limited, and we wanted to give together while he was still alive, not just in his memory.

“Both Charlie and I had grown up in homes in which giving back was a core value, and we deeply believed that charity, and the recognition that is both our privilege and responsibility as Jews and as human beings to help those who are less fortunate, begins at home. Charlie and I taught our kids that each of us is worth what we are willing to give to others.

“We were established during some of the most trying times of Charlie’s battle with leukemia. We drew our inspiration from the Talmudic story of Honi the Circlemaker, who said, ‘Just as my parents planted for me, so I will plant for my children.’ These words define our guiding philosophy: working today to build a better tomorrow.

“Right from the start, Charlie wanted the Foundation to mirror his personal business style—thoughtful, serious and efficient. ‘By our participating with a nonprofit or our recommending it,’ he wrote in one of his many notes to himself, ‘we want that to be considered a stamp of approval for others to do the same.’

“Nearly 25 years later, we remain as we started: a family foundation working to ensure a vibrant future for the Jewish people, for the State of Israel and for our hometown of Tulsa, OK. At the heart of our work is providing young people with the knowledge, self-confidence, experiences and resources they need to better their lives and, in turn, apply their talents and skills as leaders in their communities, the Jewish world and beyond.

“If it sounds like a broad mission, it is, but it all comes from the same set of Jewish values that filled the home Charlie and I built together: a commitment to the paramount importance of repairing the world; of caring for the communities closest to our hearts and ensuring they are rooted in inclusion, equality and diversity; of ensuring the broad embrace of Israel; and of providing young people with greater access to quality education.

“Our story is the story of these values brought to life. It is the story of the incredibly talented, committed individuals and organizations that inspire us every day and with whom we work in partnership and on the ground to transform lives, touch hearts and strengthen communities. It is the story of an organization shaped by the vision of day one and by the experiences of every day thereafter.”

- Lynn Schusterman