Donor Spotlight – James Dondero
President, Highland Capital Management, L.P.

Highland Capital Management Team

James “Jim” Dondero has a heart as big as Texas when it comes to philanthropy. He is the co-founder and President of Highland Capital Management, a Dallas-based firm that is one of the largest and most experienced alternative investment managers. While he won’t be spotted among the charitable cognoscente at local fundraisers, his generosity has had a substantial impact on Santa Barbara County nonprofits. In 2011, with the guidance of the Santa Barbara Foundation, Jim formed a supporting organization, Highland Santa Barbara Foundation Inc., (HSBF Inc.) which has since distributed over $1.5 million dollars to twenty-seven organizations throughout the county in the areas of education, youth development and support for veterans. (Highland Capital Management L.P., has been responsible for the contribution of over $10 million dollars to charitable organizations throughout the world since 2005.)

Jim came to the Santa Barbara Foundation in late 2011 by way of a professional advisor referral. Desiring to work with a community foundation who excelled in donor service, he chose the Santa Barbara Foundation as one of three community foundations through which to work; the others being the Dallas Foundation and the Kansas City Foundation.

“Working with a sophisticated team from Highland Capital to set up the supporting organization and then assist them in managing their Santa Barbara giving has been extremely rewarding,” said Jan Campbell the foundation’s Chief Philanthropic Officer. “Together we have woven a process through which their philanthropic interests can be leveraged with our funding, to build community resilience and drive positive change. We are so grateful for their partnership."

James Dondero, President
Highland Capital Management

Through a consistent strategy, HSBF Inc. has provided support for veterans seeking higher education opportunities. Funding for Veterans Resource Centers at Santa Barbara City College, UC Santa Barbara and Allan Hancock College has made lasting impacts on the lives of veterans returning from the Middle East conflicts. “Highland’s funding allows counselors to provide workshops utilizing multimedia tools and is instrumental in supporting local vets to succeed in their academic pursuits.” said Kevin Walther's, President of Allan Hancock College.

Highland dollars have been deployed to UC Santa Barbara for scholarship assistance to veterans who find themselves short on GI Bill benefits as well funding for computerized training tools used by the college’s Surfrider Battalion ROTC program. Additional veterans funding includes a contribution to the Landlord Liaison program, which provides housing assistance for veterans on the verge of homelessness.

Investing in youth and early care and education are also among Jim Dondero’ s passions. Through a collaborative partnership with Santa Barbara Foundation’s Energy Partners Fund, a multi-year grant was made to the Santa Maria-Bonita School District to implement Reasoning Mind, a cutting edge digital math program. Over 400 children in 9 schools have been utilizing the software and instruction system since 2013 with great success.

Multi-year funding from the supporting organization has also supported capacity building at five early care Thrive sites from Carpinteria to Guadalupe. This type of grantmaking reflects Jim’s business strategy. “Jim’s business acumen aligns beautifully with his philanthropic strategy to employ multi-year grants as part of his giving. While rare in today’s philanthropic environment, these types of grants are incredibly important to nonprofit organizations since they provide a sustainable source of funding for the long term,” reports Mary Jalonick, President and CEO of the Dallas Foundation.

No stranger to large capital commitments, Dondero and Highland Capital Management have provide major gifts to the Dallas Zoo, the George W. Bush Presidential Library, the Perot Museum of Science and Nature, and the Center for Brain Health. Locally, Highland Santa Barbara Foundation Inc, is a major donor to the Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation (Moxi). “We are so pleased to include Highland Capital and Santa Barbara Foundation among our top supporters,” said Steve Hinkley, President and CEO of Moxi. Highland’s multi-year support will be acknowledged with the naming of the Mountain View Terrace viewing deck.

In October, the Santa Barbara Foundation will announce the 2016 grant awardees in its Invest in Youth community grants cycle. Over 40 applications were received from organizations throughout Santa Barbara County. Funding from Highland will once again make a significant contribution to the local area as $140,000 will be matched with $300,000 in funding from SBF’s community grants pool. “Jim Dondero and all our friends at Highland may be several states away,” said Ron Gallo, Santa Barbara Foundation President & CEO, “but to those here in Santa Barbara County, they are very close to our hearts.”
North County Headquarters:  (805) 346-6123  |   2625 S. Miller Street, Suite 101, Santa Maria, CA 93455
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