The Asper Family: A History of Giving
The Asper Foundation (a private family foundation) has undertaken and developed major initiatives locally, nationally and internationally supporting the areas of Jewish causes, arts and culture, community development, human rights, education, and healthcare. In the recent past, over $150 million has been donated to various charitable causes through the foundation.
In April 2003, The Asper Foundation, in joint partnership with the Government of Canada, Province of Manitoba, City of Winnipeg and The Forks North Portage Partnership, announced the establishment of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, Canada. The Asper Foundation donated $24 million and was the driving force behind the creation of a distinctive, architecturally exceptional Museum that helps eliminate intolerance through recognition of human rights as the foundation for human equality, dignity and freedom worldwide. It is hoped that a major component of the Museum will be a national student program that will sponsor thousands of high school students and their chaperones from across Canada to visit the Museum each year. In 2008, Bill C48 was passed unanimously in Parliament establishing the Museum as a National Federal Museum, the fifth National museum and the first to be established outside of the National Capital Region. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights opened on September 20, 2014.
Other major Winnipeg projects supported by The Asper Foundation have been $10 million donations to each of the Winnipeg Foundation and the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba and developments including the I. H. Asper Clinical Research Institute at St. Boniface General Hospital, I. H. Asper School of Business, the Izzy Asper Jazz Performances Series, The Asper Foundation Lecture Series, the Asper Jewish Community Campus, the Lyric outdoor theatre at Assiniboine Park, the Asper Helping Hand Initiative as well as the former Asper Centre for Entrepreneurship at the University of Manitoba (now the Stu Clark Centre for Entrepreneurship). The Asper Foundation is particularly proud of its Human Rights and Holocaust Studies Program for students. Since 1997, over 14,000 students and chaperones from all backgrounds from over 200 communities across Canada have participated in this initiative.
Projects supported in Israel by The Asper Foundation include the Asper Institute for New Media Diplomacy at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, Menachem Begin Heritage Centre, the Asper International Holocaust Studies Program at Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies, the Asper Centre for Entrepreneurship at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Winnipeg Community Action Centre in Be’er Sheva, the Israel Asper Community Action Centres in Ofaqim, Migdal Ha’emek and Ramot, the Edible Garden project and the World’s Jewish Museum.
Through The Asper Foundation and the CanWest Global Foundation, the Asper family has demonstrated its commitment to the community in which it lives and does business. At the heart of this support is the philosophy of The Asper Foundation’s founders that insists that one has to give back to society and that one should, while still alive, enjoy seeing the benefits of their giving.
In addition, each of the three children, David, Gail and Leonard, along with their spouses, have their own significant foundations which collectively have contributed several million dollars to their communities.