George Lucas and 4 More Billionaires Giving Their Fortunes to Education

The ‘Star Wars’ creator plans to use his $4 billion in Disney funds to improve education.

George Lucas is on a mission to improve education. It is yet to be announced if Imperial Forces will be used. (Photo: David Livingston/Getty Images)

Nov 1, 2012· 1 MIN READ
Andrew Freeman is a California native with a degree in history from UCLA. He is particularly interested in politics and policy.

What's George Lucas to do with all the money he got from Disney for the Star Wars franchise?

Instead of keeping the funds for himself, the Star Wars creator announced that he would donate much of the $4.05 billion to education. Disney, who purchased the franchise from Lucas, plans to make a seventh Star Wars movie and will continue to develop the franchise. The sale could make Lucas' net worth $5.2 billion after taxes.

Lucas has been vocal about his quest to help reform America's education system. He is the chairman of Edutopia, part of the George Lucas Education Foundation. In a 2010 letter to the Giving Pledge, Lucas stated his commitment to education:

I am dedicating the majority of my wealth to improving education. It is the key to the survival of the human race. We have to plan for our collective future—and the first step begins with the social, emotional, and intellectual tools we provide to our children. As humans, our greatest tool for survival is our ability to think and to adapt—as educators, storytellers, and communicators our responsibility is to continue to do so. The full letter can be read here.

Lucas is not the first billionaire to give the profits from his life's work to education.

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg donated $100 million to Newark Public Schools in 2010. The money is already being put to good use in New Jersey.

Microsoft Founder Bill Gates, through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has contributed over $5 billion to school reform since 2000. In 2011, Gates decided to commit $335 million to studying and understanding teachers. Their ambitious plans include donating over $3.5 billion before 2015.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been fueled by contributions from Warren Buffet. The Berkshire Hathaway CEO has already given $1.52 billion worth of company stock to the Gates Foundation. In 2006 Buffet announced that in his will, he would donate 85 percent of his estimated $44 billion (approx. $37.5 billion at present value) to charity. He named the Gates Foundation as the main recipient.

Entrepereneuer and philanthropist Eli Broad has also passionately shared his wealth and experience in pursuit of improving America’s education system. In 1999, the Broad Foundation was established with the goal of drastically improving education in urban neighborhoods.