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With $16 million gift, gay causes get a big boost

Friday, October 20, 2017


By , Culture Writer @InquirerPeter |

When he was in his mid-20s, Mel Heifetz made a pledge to himself that if he ever became successful, he would give back, and that the object of his generosity would be the gay community.

Successful he was, and now, about to turn 82, the Center City real estate investor is converting 26 of his Center City residential properties into a grand act of charity. On Friday, Heifetz announced that he has gifted them to the Philadelphia Foundation, which will in turn sell them and place the proceeds in an endowment. The expected $16 million from the sale plus cash will join Heifetz’s existing $4 million donor-advised fund at the Philadelphia Foundation, and investment income earned on the money each year will go toward LGBT groups.

“This is really a fulfillment of a pledge I made to myself almost 60 years ago,” Heifetz, a fulfillment, he admits, that has left him “quite emotional and tearing up, which at 82 is easy to do.”

Others in the LGBT community are also feeling emotional.

“This massive donation from Mel is a game-changer, and it will change LGBT advocacy in this region not just for decades, but for all time,” said State Rep. Brian K. Sims, a Philadelphia Democrat.

Heifetz is a well-known supporter of LGBT and liberal political causes on a local and national level. In 2005, he paid off the mortgage of the William Way LGBT Community Center, and at least part of what he would like to see this new gift do is to lift philanthropy in the gay community generally.


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