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The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust


Last Updated: 2016-07-14

At A Glance

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust

230 Park Ave., Ste. 659

New York City, NY United States 10169-0698

Telephone: (212) 679-3600


Type of Grantmaker

Independent foundation

Additional Descriptor

  • Celebrity: Business

Financial Data

(yr. ended 2015-03-31)

Assets: $5,549,574,544

Total giving: $279,860,676





Additional Contact Information

Additional address: 3130 W. 57th St., Ste. 112, Sioux Falls, SD 57108, tel.: (605) 361-9848


Established in 1999 in NY - Founded in the names of Harry B. and Leona M. Helmsley. Harry Helmsley founded a real-estate holding company that at one time was one of the biggest property holders in the United States, with buildings such as the Empire State Building, The Park Lane Hotel and the Ritz Carlton among its portfolio. Leona Helmsley was a hotel operator who assumed control of the company upon Harry's passing. The Trust is administered by four trustees selected by Leona Helmsley. As a continuation of Mr. and Mrs. Helmsley’s generous giving throughout their lifetimes, the Trust supports a diverse range of organizations with a major focus on health and medical research, in addition to programs in human services, education, cultural access, conservation, and the security and development of Israel.

Purpose and Activities

The trust aspires to improve lives by supporting effective nonprofits. Grantmaking focuses on four main areas: health and medical research, human services, education, and conservation. The trust, which is administered by four trustees selected by Leona Helmsley, also awards grants in other areas.

Program Area(s)

The grantmaker has identified the following area(s) of interest:

Basic Medical Research

The program supports the fundamental laboratory and translational science that is essential to advancing society’s ability to understand and combat disease, treat traumatic injury and improve human health globally. The program supports scientists in their formative efforts to identify pathways and modes of disease and devise novel and effective approaches to the search for treatments and cures. It also supports preeminent U.S. scientific institutions in innovative basic research projects that present a discernible path to translation in areas that can materially improve human health. In addition, the program funds a range of other novel research initiatives and medical institutions in projects that range from the development of low-cost, plant-based vaccines, pharmaceuticals and diagnostic tests for patients globally to innovative treatments for traumatic spinal cord injuries.

Biomedical Research Infrastructure

The program seeks to catalyze new technologies and systems that will enable the pooling of ideas, resources and efforts in the quest for vital laboratory discoveries and high quality clinical care. The work of this program seeks to both bridge the research efforts already underway in the trust’s health-focused programs and explore new avenues of infrastructure that can advance and support health sciences more generally. Grants in this area are to enable new initiatives in health science research – with potential projects ranging from training in bioinformatics to development of shared data platforms – that could lead to discoveries in human health.


The trust works to resolve environmental threats in ways that ensure the well-being of local communities while sustaining natural resources and protecting biodiversity by collaborating with outstanding global and local organizations that share its mission. The trust’s place-based approach aims to align biodiversity conservation and environmental protection goals with sustainable human development by promoting development solutions that benefit communities, wildlife and the environment; establishing and supporting the management of protected areas; and working to save endangered species. Wherever possible, the trust leverages investment and leadership of those in the public and private sectors, and seeks long-term financing mechanisms to ensure the sustainability of efforts and impacts. The program’s foci is on the Galapagos, Ecuador; Baja California Sur, Mexico; Madagascar; and Myanmar. For more information on each area see foundation web site.


The program aspires to advance American economic competitiveness as well as individual social mobility by supporting K-12 and higher education initiatives to help ensure that all students, including those who are economically disadvantaged, have access to a quality education and the opportunity to attain a meaningful postsecondary credential. The desired impact is a nationally diverse cross section of students successfully graduating high school and completing college or postsecondary certificates ready for globally competitive careers.

IBD and Crohn's Disease

The trust supports leading research institutions across the globe in an unprecedented effort to find a cure—and until then better treatments—for IBD and Crohn’s disease. The areas of grantmaking are focused in the following areas: 1) Research Networks: fostering novel collaborations of leading scientists across the field; 2) Intramural Research: funding of multidisciplinary teams of researchers at select institutions to test new scientific questions about the cause and progression of IBD; 3) Genetics of IBD: creating coordinated plans to explore and leverage new findings in genetics and to developed treatment drugs; 4) Information Technology: creating mechanisms for cataloging, accessing, and harnessing data and information; 5) Research Training: supports ongoing development of research into IDB and provides funds for the development of new and mid-career researchers in IBD; and 6) Microbiome Studies: funds the latest generation of DNA sequencers to study the complex role that intestinal microbial communities play in IBD, and how that knowledge might translate into diagnostic and therapeutic tools.


The program is committed to contributing to the continued development and security of Israel, both for the country's benefit and for humanity in general. Its grantmaking in Israel will invest in the country’s leading institutions and critical initiatives toward the goal of strengthening Israel as a successful, secure and vital nation. The primary areas of the program are: 1) strengthening Israel’s leadership in scientific, technological, and medical research; 2) strengthening healthcare services and preparedness; 3) strengthening Israel’s standing in the world; and 4) rapid response and opportunities fund. The trust is interested in opportunities that meet these strategic goals, and generally initiates the application process by invitation. .

New York City Regional Grants

The program seeks to identify and solve specific problems to help the region’s residents meet basic needs for themselves and their families, maintain economic security and utilize public goods and services that improve economic well-being, security and quality of life. The program funds initiatives around pressing needs that are identified as “solvable problems” by its grantmaking staff (working closely with other local experts and community leaders) and looks to support solutions and services that enhance sustainable access to such necessities as food, health, shelter, transportation and sanitation, as well as to enhance quality of life. The program’s first landmark initiative, NYC Data to Go, will create a dynamic, easy-to-navigate web-based mapping tool that allows nonprofit and community leaders, policymakers, funders and citizens to use publicly available data to track the city’s health, education and income outcomes over time, identify gaps in service delivery and advocate for increased efficiency in public expenditures.

Rural Helathcare

The program seeks to improve access to and quality of care in the upper Midwest. Working closely with its nonprofit implementing partners, the program invests in projects that improve healthcare delivery and strengthen the healthcare workforce. It funds innovative projects that use information technologies to connect rural populations to specialty medical care, bring the latest medical therapies to patients in remote areas, provide state-of-the-art training for rural hospitals and EMS personnel, and foster incentives for healthcare personnel to train and serve in rural areas. The program awards grants in the upper Midwest states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Minnesota, Iowa and Montana.

Type 1 Diabetes

The program seeks to have a positive impact on people living with type 1 diabetes by partnering with key players across the T1D ecosystem in order to accelerate the development of devices, therapies and services that ease the burden of living with T1D. The program's grantmaking has four distinct focus areas: 1) Research: support for scientists to understand how and why T1D develops and to discover life-changing therapies to treat, reverse and prevent the disease; 2) Technology: invests heavily in efforts to improve existing devices and accelerate the development and availability of new technologies that will ease the burden of living with T1D; 3) Systems: supports a range of initiatives to improve, expand and better integrate the research and clinical care infrastructure of T1D; 4) Outreach: funds initiatives to build the capacity and sustainability of grassroots, community-based organizations that improve the quality of life for people with T1D.

Vulnerable Children in Sub-Saharan Africa

The trust invests in evidence-based interventions that provide at-risk children with greater access to education, improved food and nutrition, and clean water and sanitation. It funds integrated strategic priorities in remote and rural areas with limited access to public and private services. Initial grantmaking efforts have been in Kenya, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Angola and Ethiopia. The strategic focus is on organizations that address the following priorities collectively: 1) Food Security and Nutrition: supports improved agricultural production, behavior change communication, and savings and lending groups; 2) Water, Sanitation and Hygiene: support of community-led total sanitation and clean water initiatives in rural villages; 3) Education: supports efforts to mitigate the major barriers that at-risk children face in school retention and learning; 4) Neglected Tropical Diseases: supports the London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases. Collectively, these diseases affect 1.5 billion people, including 800,000 children.

Fields of Interest

  • Crohn's disease and colitis
  • Diabetes
  • Diseases and conditions
  • Education
  • Endocrine, nutritional and metabolic diseases
  • Environment
  • Health
  • Hospital care
  • Human services
  • Philanthropy
Population Groups
  • Academics
  • Children and youth
  • Economically disadvantaged people
  • Females
  • Low-income and poor people
  • Students

Financial Data

Year ended 2015-03-31

Assets: $5,549,574,544 (market value)

Gifts received: $224,730,701

Expenditures: $393,072,084

Total giving: $279,860,676

Qualifying distributions: $303,262,838