James Dondero has Philanthropy in his DNA


James Dondero’s vision for philanthropy is a force to be reckoned with in Dallas. He remains consistent, resilient and innovative with all his initiatives. Philanthropy is so vital to this CEO and co-founder of the Highland Capital Management, that he oversaw the creation of Highland Dallas Foundation, a charitable arm of his company that focuses solely on philanthropic activities.

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The Dallas community has certainly benefited from his spirited philanthropic touch. The at-risk populations and the youth form the bulk of his efforts which lean heavily on education.

The Family Place

When Dondero, a University of Virginia alum set a $1 million challenge grant for a shelter, it was as good as done. The Family Place provides family violence services in Dallas by offering professional counseling services, shelter, and education for families of violence victims.

It does not end there, as a preventative measure, they also educate students on bullying and teen violence. The Family Place also runs the pioneer family violence shelter for men and children in the entire state.

Hippo Habitat at the Dallas Zoo

The Dallas zoo has also benefited from his philanthropy. He donated $1 million towards the construction of a state of the art Hippo Outpost. His donation built an area for private events and special education displays. This beautifully blended his love for conservation and appreciation for education.

SMU Towers Scholars Program

The Highland Capital Management’s commitment to education is unfaltering. A testament to this is a $2 million endowment gift to Southern Methodist University. The funds going specifically to the Tower Scholars Program Fund which supports politics and international affairs undergraduate students. The underlying goal is to stimulate an interest in ethical public service, says Mr. Dondero about the initiative.

Education is Freedom

Education is Freedom (EIF) is yet another organization that has enjoyed Mr. Dondero’s support. EIF provides financial assistance to at-risk youth wanting to get college degrees. The organization offers mentorships and internships as well as professional development at Dallas’s top corporations and nonprofit organizations.

For several years now, the Highland Capital Management has sponsored the annual job fair for the Mayor’s Intern Fellows Program and gone a step ahead to sponsor interns for other charitable partners. This means that Highland Capital absorbs the cost of the paid internships in select nonprofit organizations. This gives the interns invaluable hands-on skills they would have otherwise missed out on.

The Bush Center

As the beneficiary of $5 million from Highland Capital Management, the Bush Center has definitely gotten a helping held from Dondero’s initiatives. The Bush library and Museum holds artifacts and historical records that provide a wealth of knowledge regarding the Bush administration. On its part, the Bush Institute aims to advance policy, develop leaders as well as add its voice and solutions to the problems facing the country today.

After the initial donation in 2012, Dondero further made a $10 million commitment to ensure the sustainability of public programs dubbed “Engage at the Bush Center, presented by Highland Capital Management.” This program sees leaders, authors, and newsmakers come together for discussions throughout the year.

Speaking on the event, Dondero said that the events foster important dialogue regarding policy.

The Perot Museum of Natural Sciences

As a longtime supporter of the Perot Museum of Natural Sciences in Dallas, Mr. Dondero and Highland Capital were among donors that saw the construction of the iconic museum building come into fruition.

The Perot museum provides a space where children can learn math, science and technological skills practically. Highland Capital Management sponsored a recent exhibition dubbed ‘Journey to space,’ which gave the Dallas community insights on the dangers, conditions, and rewards of space travel. The exhibition, which welcomes people of all ages, showcased the advancements in spacecraft and spacecraft technology.

The Perot’s latest exhibition, Ultimate Dinosaurs, which opened in June and will run till January 2019 was also sponsored by Highland.

Snowball Express

Mr. Dondero believes every single American has a responsibility to help the children of our fallen military heroes.In this regard, Highland Capital Management initiated another $1 million that matched every $1 for $1 donated. The initiative raised $1.7 million towards this cause.

Capital for Kids

This brings together investment management professionals who volunteer to help kids in need. Its mission is to assist organizations that protect, educate and provide encouragement to at-risk kids. Again, Highland brings together a host of beneficiaries to assist Capital for Kids to roll out quality education programs.


For James Dondero, philanthropy runs in his veins. However, he understands that a lot needs to be done and he cannot do it alone. This is why he strives to pull in other organizations, corporations, and even the citizens to join in the effort to create a better Dallas.

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