The Philanthropy Efforts of James Dondero

If you want to learn how to apply business acumen to philanthropy, then James Dondero is the kind of entrepreneur you want to learn from. James Dondero who is an entrepreneur and a philanthropist has made tremendous charitable efforts that have been successful in many organizations. The foundations of his success are the financial contribution, coupled with his vision of the organizations he supports.

Mr. James is Highland Capital Management co-founder and president. From the start, Mr. James ensured that the mission of the company included charitable giving. Through his entrepreneurial acumen, he has made a tangible, large-scale, and strategic impact with his foundation on the Dallas community.


Mr. James and his co-founder Mark Okada relocated their firm’s headquarters from Los Angeles to Dallas in 1994. He made Dallas his home and set up businesses and philanthropic efforts in the community. Although Highland Capital Management is a global firm, Mr. James has localized his charitable giving to the Dallas community.


Some of the charitable organizations that Mr. James has supported include SMU’s Tower Scholars program, Education is Freedom, The Perot Museum of Nature and Science, The Dallas Zoo, The Family Place, and many more. The philanthropic arm of Highland Capital Management is the Highlands Dallas Foundation which is responsible for giving gifts.


Mr. James firmly believes that his company is dedicated to supporting the organizations in the community that are advancing the locality of Dallas. Although each charity organization has different causes, Mr. Dondero’s approach is on a larger strategic approach.

His approach is based on the effects of recognizing opportunities where nonprofits can work together to have a more lasting impact.


To strategically carry out this ambition, James partnered with Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation former CEO, Linda Owen. James decided to work with Ms. Owen partly because she is diligently working in Highland’s Foundation to ensure that the strategic goals of charity are met.

Her role also includes ensuring that Highland is connecting with new nonprofit agencies in Dallas to maximize the community partners to maximize the impact of multi-year grants that Highlands offers.


The Family Place

Highland Capital, guided by Linda Owen supported The Family Place by offering a challenge with $1 million grant. This grant helped The Family Place to get a good headstart to its fundraising efforts. The Family Place provides family violence services in Texas.

It also offers professional counseling, lifesaving shelters, and education to family violence victims. Recently, The Family Place opened up a family violence center for children and men, where all services were in English and Spanish.


Hippo Habitat at the Dallas Zoo

James offered a generous donation of $1 million together with other donations to build a modern Hippo Outpost. The contribution established a permanent space called the Highland Hippo Hut for private events and educational displays. Visitors can now visit the Highland Hippo Hut to find out more on the protection efforts that surround the 3rd world’s largest land mammal.


SMU Tower Scholars Program

Southern Methodist University received a gift of $2 million from Highland Capital Management to create Tower Scholars Program Fund. The program works to support exceptional undergraduates who desire to study international affairs, politics and those who desire to develop an interest in ethical public service.

Students who are selected for this program get an opportunity to study abroad, access to important global leaders, exposure to policymaking, and senior-year internships.


Education is Freedom

James also supports Education is Freedom by providing financial support for the youth who want to get a college degree. The organization offers mentoring assistance, standardized test preparation, professional development, and internships at respected nonprofits and corporations.


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