The Founders

Advancing a Mission

A message from Chairman Lowell Milken

Lowell Milken 2 1280w

Mike and I established the Milken Family Foundation (MFF) in 1982 with a genuine sense of gratitude for our own gifts in life and a responsibility for those less fortunate; twin ideals imparted by our parents, Bernard and Ferne Milken.  Our idealism about the possibilities for sweeping change and improvement remains.  We realize, too, that it is critical to focus on those efforts with the potential to effect positive long-term advances for individuals and their communities.  Our personal, professional and philanthropic experience has demonstrated the most fertile grounds for helping people help themselves: education and medical research.


Science teacher 1280Education is at the heart of nearly everything we value as individuals, as citizens and as productive human beings.  The centrality of education to realizing human potential, contrasted with the grim reality of inadequate educational opportunities for far too many of our nation’s youth, has informed many of the Milken Family Foundation’s core initiatives.  Whether focused on early childhood education or the effective use of technology in the classroom, a common truth has underscored each—the undisputed importance of talented teachers.

To this end, we created a series of initiatives, one of which was the Milken Educator Awards—created to celebrate, elevate and activate exemplary educators—and continuing with TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement, whose proven reforms led us to establish the independent non-profit National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET).  Our goal is nothing short of an America in which every child, every day, is taught by effective educators.

Medical Research

Medical research 1280wBuilding on the same core belief in the recognition and empowerment of the individual which we applied to the field of education, Mike and I saw a great opportunity and need to improve the length and quality of life through medical research.  We created the Foundation at an exciting time and climate for scientific breakthroughs, leading to enormous technological advances combined with scientific progress, ranging from the function of the brain to the structure of a cell.  The rate of breakthroughs continues to build, in large measure due to the courage, commitment and vision that inform basic research.  Both the public and private sectors have a responsibility to recognize the crucial role of the medical researcher, to elevate that role, and to encourage promising young minds to consider the discipline. 

Cancer has cut a wide swath through our families, compelling us to focus our energy and ideas, as well as significant resources on conquering this disease in its many forms.  Perhaps the most high profile outcome of our efforts is the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF), in which the aim of fast-tracking clinical trials has led to significant advances towards a cure not only for prostate, but for other cancers as well.  PCF is now an independent charity and MFF remains committed to its mission.  Today, PCF is the world’s leading funder of prostate cancer research, literally changing the future for men and their families.

Whether in education or in medicine, the Milken Family Foundation’s work is as vital today as it was three decades ago:  To help realize human potential by providing the strategies and the support that enable people to create and advance effective, lasting solutions to the challenges facing us in the 21st century.

Learn more about founders Lowell Milken and Michael Milken.