Reginald F. Lewis as Philanthropist
The Reginald F. Lewis Foundation was created to support charitable causes, with a special emphasis on education and children's programs. It has now given more than $20 million to various nonprofit organizations.
Reginald F. Lewis' first major grant was an unsolicited $1 million to Howard University—a school he never attended—in 1988. The federal government matched the grant, making the gift to Howard University $2 million, which was used to fund an endowment. Interest from this endowment is used for scholarships, fellowships, and faculty sabbaticals. In 1992, Lewis donated $3 million to Harvard Law School—the largest grant in the history of the school at the time. In gratitude, the school renamed its International Law Center the Reginald F. Lewis International Law Center. Among other programs, the grant supports a fellowship to teach minority lawyers to be law professors.
In 2002 the Foundation made a lasting contribution to Maryland, in the form of a $5 million endowment for a museum of African American history & culture. The museum, which opened in June 2005, is named after RFL. The Reginald F Lewis Museum ofMaryland African American History and Culture, called "The Lewis", is dedicated to sharing the courageous journeys toward freedom and self-determination made by African American Marylanders.
"The Lewis", located two blocks east of Baltimore's Inner Harbor, is an affiliate of the Smithsonian. This 82,000 square foot repository of permanent exhibits, special exhibitions and educational programs, is bold, beautiful and powerful inside and out. It also houses a resource center, 200-seat theater, event space, a cafe' and a book and artifacts shop.
The Lewis Museum has a partnership with the Maryland State Department of Education designed to teach African American history to more than 850,000 students and 50,000 teachers. A first of its kind, museum resources are available to teachers, children and parents, with the goal of enhancing African American curriculum in public schools. “The generous donation from the Reginald F. Lewis Foundation for the museum will benefit many Marylanders, especially our children,” said Nancy S. Grasmick, Maryland State Superintendent of Schools.
“The partnership between the museum and the Maryland State Department of Education is unprecedented. This is the first time a museum and the education community are working together to develop educational materials and museum content simultaneously.”
Apart from the honors ceremony held annually at the RFL Estate in East Hampton New York, the following stand to honor for the memory and legacy of the man who gained much but gave more:
The Reginald F. Lewis International Law Center in Harvard University
The Reginald F. Lewis High School of Business and Law
The Lewis College
Sorsogon City, Philippines
Through the foundation's schools, fellowships and grants, Reginald Lewis' life and legacy continues to inspire and motivate young people of today.