Michelson Philanthropies Monthly Newsletter | June 2024

Dear friends and partners of Michelson Philanthropies,

Legendary Hall of Fame Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda once said, “The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man’s determination.”

Inspired by Lasorda’s lifetime of service and dedication, the Milken Institute, with philanthropist Warren Lichtenstein, established the Tommy Lasorda Leadership Award in 2018, honoring those who overcome the impossible to create change. Previous recipients include Dr. Richard Merkin, Hall of Fame manager Joe Torre, and philanthropists Cindy Citrone, Precious and Patrice Motsepe.

I am pleased to share the news that Michelson Philanthropies founder and co-chair Dr. Gary K. Michelson as this year’s award recipient.

Gary K. Michelson, Global Gourmet Games 2024 Award

From left: Michael Milken, Warren Lichtenstein, Dr. Gary K Michelson, Laura Lasorda, Eric Karros, and Bobby Valentine

After prevailing in his legal battle with Medtronic in 2005, Dr. Michelson devoted himself full time to philanthropy and sought Milken’s advice. “I am incredibly grateful for Mike’s guidance and friendship ever since,” he said, when accepting the award. “He taught me Milken’s laws of effective philanthropy. Every time I’ve ever deviated from that, I regret it, and every time I’ve done what he’s told me, it’s turned out well.”

Join me in congratulating Dr. Michelson on this well-deserved recognition.

Geoffrey Baum
Executive Director


Miguel Leon, Cristal Mojica and Phil Kim of Michelson 20MM

From left: Michelson 20MM’s Miguel Leon, Cristal Mojica, and Phillip Kim


Universal, affordable access to broadband is a priority for Michelson Philanthropies, yet it remains elusive even after billions in federal and state public investment. That’s why the Michelson 20 Million Minds Foundation (20MM) and the Michelson Center for Public Policy led a coalition of organizations and volunteers to Sacramento to educate California policymakers about digital discrimination and advocate for policies aimed at closing the digital divide.

20MM CEO Phillip Kim, Director of Programs and Strategic Initiatives Miguel Leon, and Digital Equity Senior Program Manager Cristal Mojica hosted ‘Investing in California’s Broadband Future, A Community Perspective’ to discuss how the state can effectively use the billions it has set aside to improve broadband infrastructure and access.

Among other objectives, the program is seeking passage of Assembly Bill 2239, which will make California the first state in the nation to legally define and prevent ‘digital discrimination.’ “AB 2239 represents a crucial advancement in guaranteeing that underserved communities have access to affordable, reliable, and fast internet,” Mojica explains.

However, reports reveal that the grant-making process behind California’s ‘Broadband for All’ plan is fielding applications from large internet providers, which can exacerbate digital discrimination. Mojica told LAist that the money should go to projects that ensure “community interests and voices are really going to be considered in the build out.”

Throughout the country, low-income communities, tribal areas, and people of color are disproportionately affected by the lack of access to reliable broadband. The damaging impact digital discrimination has on education, healthcare, employment, and public services is why advocating for digital equity is so vital.

We are grateful for the tireless efforts of the 20MM staff and our partners in the California Alliance for Digital Equity to close the digital divide.



ALYA - Hope Album
ALYA, Grammy Winner and Michelson Philanthropies Co-Chair, Releases New Single “Hope”

Grammy-winning artist and Co-chair of Michelson Philanthropies Alya Michelson released a new single, “Hope.” The song is “a heartfelt call for unity and collective action” with a message that urges listeners to focus on our common ground rather than our differences. The single is available on all major streaming platforms.


Shelter dog at Chesterfield Square Animal Services in Los Angeles

Photo credit: (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Op-Ed: Why California’s Housing Crisis Has Serious Consequences for Pets As Well as People

In a Los Angeles Times op-ed, Michelson Found Animals Foundation CEO Brett Yates explains how pet-inclusive housing benefits both tenants and landlords. It not only ensures people and their pets remain together but allows landlords to fill units faster, keep tenants longer, and foster safer communities.


Boyle Heights Pet Wellness Day April 2024

Pet Wellness Day Serves 300 Families in East LA

Meeting a desperate community need, the Michelson Found Animals Foundation’s Pet Wellness Day in Boyle Heights provided hundreds of pets and families with free pet food and services, including wellness check-ups, vaccinations, spay/neuter procedures, microchipping, and pet ID tags. We thank Senator Maria Elena Durazo (pictured left), Assemblymember Miguel Santiago, along with our community partners and volunteers for making it possible.


Paid Opportunities with Livable Wages for Incarcerated Individuals in California

Unlocking Potential: The Case for Paid Opportunities with Livable Wages for Incarcerated Individuals in California

In a new white paper, Michelson 20MM Foundation Smart Justice Program Manager Kenia Miranda Verdugo explains how paid opportunities for incarcerated individuals develop skills, instill responsibility, and boost self-worth. Roles like janitorial work, clerking, and construction prepare participants for reentry and reduce recidivism.


Homeboy Industries Smart Justice Spark Grantee

Michelson Spark Grant Boosts Homeboy Industries’ Pathway to College Program

Homeboy Industries’ Pathway to College program helps justice-impacted individuals enroll in college through workshops and support services. With support from a Michelson 20MM Foundation Spark Grant, this renowned Los Angeles nonprofit will host a half-day summit for local organizations interested in providing reentry services and educational opportunities.


2023 Michelson Prizes: Next Generation Grants recipients

Left to right: Dr. Dennis Schaefer-Babajew, Dr. Claire Otero, and Dr. Siyuan Ding

Honoring Rising Stars in Immunology & Vaccine Innovation

Organized by the Michelson Medical Research Foundation and the Human Immunome Project, the 2023 Michelson Prizes: Next-Generation Grant recipients Dr. Siyuan DingDr. Claire Otero, and Dr. Dennis Schaefer-Babajew presented their award-winning work in human immunology, vaccine discovery, and immunotherapy during a live Keystone Symposium ePanel. The event includes remarks from Dr. Gary Michelson, founder and co-chair of Michelson Philanthropies, Dr. Hans Keirstead, CEO of the Human Immunome Project, and U.S. Representative Ted Lieu.

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Jun 12, 2024 | Michelson Philanthropies, News