Chess-In-The-Schools: How Lewis Cullman is Giving Back

April 02, 2014 at 11:53 am

The list of Lewis B. Cullman’s philanthropic contributions is long. His beneficiaries range from the American Museum of Natural History to Planned Parenthood of New York City, and from Human Rights Watch to Thirteen/WNET. 

“[M]y mother always said she liked to give money away while she was alive. She said ‘What do I care what they say when I’m dead? I won’t be around to hear about it,'” Cullman told PBS NewsHour Weekend host Hari Sreenivasan.

But one of Cullman’s proudest contributions goes beyond simply writing a check. In 1991, Cullman donated $1 million to the educational non-profit Chess-in-the-Schools, which uses chess as an educational tool to promote learning and to help young people develop skills in critical thinking and problem solving. Today, the organization has reached over 500,000 economically disadvantaged kids in over 125 New York City public schools.

“I like to get involved with things I can do something about, rather than just writing a check,” said Cullman.

Cullman is also the author of “Can’t Take It With You: The Art of Making and Giving Money.” The memoir details Cullman’s career milestones, including the first leveraged buyout in 1964 and the purchase of a desk calendar company which evolved into At-A-Glance®, the largest manufacturer of calendars and appointment books in the U.S. 

“If you’ve got money, more than you need, do something useful with it,” said Cullman.

Watch the full interview with Lewis Cullman below:


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