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San Diego Foundation receives $100 million from estate of Jay Kahn

The San Diego Symphony is shown in a 2019 photo.
Courtesy of the San Diego Symphony
The San Diego Symphony is shown in a 2019 photo. The $1.5 million in total grants were awarded at the San Diego Foundation Board of Governors retreat on Thursday to the San Diego Symphony, Voices of Our City Choir and more.

The San Diego Foundation day received $100 million on Feb. 2, 2023 from the estate of the late local entrepreneur Jay Kahn, the largest gift of its kind ever given to a San Diego nonprofit.

"Jay Kahn was a compassionate man who loved San Diego and wished for his legacy and estate to be used for the good of San Diego," Mark Stuart, president and CEO of San Diego Foundation, said in a statement. "We had no existing relationship with Jay until we learned that he believed San Diego Foundation would achieve his goal and honor his wishes.

"We are humbled by this incredible generosity and we will honor Jay by continuing to inspire enduring philanthropy and enable community solutions to improve the quality of life in the San Diego region," Stuart said.


According to the San Diego Foundation, the first grants from Kahn's gift include 10, $150,000 unrestricted grants to San Diego-based music education nonprofits to advance their work with under-resourced children.

The intent of the initial grants is to "grow music appreciation" in San Diego in memory of Kahn, a classical musician who played clarinet in symphonies at UC San Diego and University of San Diego.

The $1.5 million in total grants were awarded at the SDF Board of Governors retreat on Thursday to A Reason to Survive, Classics 4 Kids, David's Harp Foundation, Guitars and Ukes in the Classroom, Heartbeat Music & Performing Arts Academy, San Diego Symphony, San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory, San Diego Young Artists Music Academy, Voices of Our City Choir and Young Lions Jazz Conservatory.

According to his wishes, a portion of Kahn's gift will support housing and other regional strategic plan initiatives and more than $86 million will establish the Jay Kahn Endowment Fund at San Diego Foundation so that "Kahn's legacy and impact continues to grow and transform San Diego County in perpetuity," according to a foundation statement.

Kahn lived in San Diego's Ocean Beach neighborhood from 1972 until his death in 2022 at age 90.