With a spectacular $20 million grant to the Johns Hopkins Hospital to help build one of the world's great cancer treatment and research centers, the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation has moved into the spotlight of Baltimore philanthropy. Its assets, valued at $1 billion and likely to grow to $1.5 billion when the Weinberg estate is settled, are twice as large as all other foundations established from their origin in this city.
Under law and as a matter of intent, the Weinberg Foundation has dispensed more than $200 million since Mr. Weinberg died in 1990, leaving his vast fortune for the benefit of poor people. Of this amount, approximately one-third has gone to institutions, both big and small, in the Baltimore he knew as a child growing up in poverty.
Many of the foundation's grants have been dispensed quietly, with a modesty that belies how much they have meant and will mean to the quality of life in Baltimore. In 1991, for example, the original Weinberg bequests amounted to $500,000 for Meals on Wheels, $250,000 for St. Agnes Hospital (where the Weinberg family long ago got free care) and $75,000 for the Salvation Army.
Coming on top of a $15 million grant to Sinai Hospital last year, the $20 million donation to the new Weinberg building at the Hopkins medical campus in East Baltimore reflects a focus on hospitals that provide care for underprivileged neighborhoods. Consideration is being given to future grants to the University of Maryland Hospital that serves West Baltimore and Greater Baltimore Medical Center's Family Health Center in East Baltimore.
In celebrating the Weinberg bequest, the largest single gift in Hopkins' 106-year history, hospital president James A. Block said the $97.7 million, seven-story building at Broadway and Orleans Street will enable his institution to bring together under one roof, with the most modern facilities, all the various medical disciplines dealing with cancer. It will confirm the Hopkins reputation for leadership in cancer throughout the world, he predicted, and insure that Hopkins will not only survive but thrive in the competitive economic environment that exists today.
Baltimore is fortunate that Harry Weinberg was born here, grew up here and had the savvy to amass great wealth that this city will share in for many decades to come. With the Hopkins grant, his brother, Nathan Weinberg, and other foundation trustees are demonstrating vision, discipline and responsibility.