The Marcus Foundation
Co-Founder, The Home Depot, Inc.
Mr. Bernie Marcus is co-founder of The Home Depot, Inc., the world’s largest home improvement retailer, and was chairman until his retirement in 2002. He has redirected his entrepreneurial spirit toward a variety of charitable endeavors. He and his wife Billi channel their generosity through The Marcus Foundation, which focuses on medical research, Jewish causes, children, free enterprise and the community.
Both strong believers in contributing to the health of the world around them and helping those in need, Bernie and his wife Billi have supported a wide range of medical programs and projects that have had extraordinary impact on the lives of patients and their families. A major area of interest has been in autism, where Mr. Marcus funded the establishment of Autism Speaks to make the public more aware of the problem, and created The Marcus Institute, which provides programs for children with disorders of the brain and their families. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta joined forces with The Institute to create the Marcus Autism Center, the largest center in the world offering comprehensive services for children with autism.
To improve emergency care to trauma and acute neurological injury victims throughout Georgia, The Marcus Foundation gifted the Grady Health System for The Marcus Stroke & Neuroscience Center (MSNC) and The Marcus Trauma Center, which expand hospital space for trauma and brain injury victims and improve time-dependent therapies for stroke and acute neurological emergencies. Subsequent gifts to Grady include construction of a new Marcus Trauma and Emergency Center and establish a multi-disciplinary outpatient clinic for the MSNC. An analogous Marcus Neuroscience Institute was created at Boca Raton Regional Hospital to provide cutting edge facilities and services for patients in south Florida.
The Marcuses also have long been involved for treatment of brain and spinal injuries with the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, renowned. Bernie created Project Share to ensure that members of the military and veterans get diagnosed and cared for without financial constraint by underwriting the housing, transportation and care costs of any military personnel with brain or spinal injuries who are sent to Shepherd. Subsequent grants have been provided to additional organizations studying diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to Traumatic Brain Injury and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, as well as to support specialized housing for our most critically injured veterans.
A major benefactor of regenerative medicine, Bernie has provided grants to create the new Marcus Center for Therapeutic Cell Characterization and Manufacturing (MC3M) at Georgia Tech. The Center will help provide standardized production and quality testing for cellular therapies, which have great therapeutic potential for a wide range of neurologic and cardiac diseases as well as cancer. The Foundation has also funded more than a dozen clinical trials and research studies in the treatment of autism, stroke and cerebral palsy at Duke, asthma and lung disease at the University of Miami and Case Western Reserve, neonatal heart disease at Emory and Children’s Hospital of Atlanta, and cancer cellular therapy trials at City of Hope, Penn, Miami and MD Anderson.
One of the earliest areas of personal involvement by Bernie, even before the founding of Home Depot, was to fight cancer as a supporter of City of Hope. Since then, he has supported numerous grants and projects focused on the treatment and diagnosis of the most devastating cancers of the brain, pancreas, ovary, prostate and breast. Clinical trials and preclinical studies for novel cancer therapies have been supported at Duke, City of Hope, Jefferson, Penn, Miami, MD Anderson and Hopkins. Likewise, clinical trials to examine the predictive value of innovative diagnostic liquid biopsy and imaging techniques have been funded at Hopkins, Jefferson, and Stoney Brook.
Bernie’s interest in fighting heart disease led to the creation of the Marcus Heart Valve Center, the nation’s first heart valve reference center, at Piedmont Hospital. Piedmont Healthcare also received a gift in 2016 to construct new facilities and create the Marcus Heart and Vascular Center, which is the second largest gift ever made to a community hospital in the U.S.
Another area of personal interest has been integrative health, for which Bernie establish the Brind-Marcus Integrative Health Center at Thomas Jefferson University. This new integrative health center is bringing the best of all worlds – integrative, global and traditional health – to patients in a facility with the most current diagnostic modalities, including PET-MRI.
With an eye on the future of science and health, Bernie played an integral role in founding the Nanotechnology Research Center Building at Georgia Tech as part of a public/private partnership with the State of Georgia. Work in the Marcus Nanotechnology Building focuses on creating innovative systems that include new approaches to drug delivery, cancer detection and treatment, DNA damage repair, and the detection and analysis of plaque formation for artery and cardiac disease prevention.
Learning of the critical need for a new national blood center in Israel, Bernie supported the creation of the Marcus National Blood Services Center with a gift to the American Friends of Magen David Adom (MDA). MDA is Israel’s 86-year old national ambulance, blood-services, and disaster-relief agency, and the new center is being constructed underground in central Israel to provide greater protection from attack.
Mr. Marcus considers the founding of the Israel Democracy Institute in Jerusalem among his most important efforts. This non-partisan and non-political think tank deals with the complex issues facing the Israeli democratic society. Recognizing the urgent need for job creation in the US, Bernie funded and founded the Job Creators Network, a group of current and retired CEOs and entrepreneurs who have come together to preserve the free enterprise system for succeeding generations.
Encouraged by his mother to “always give back,” Bernie’s contributions are given with the expectation that they will make a significant difference. As a thank you to the associates, customers and shareholders of Atlanta and Georgia for the success of The Home Depot, where it is headquartered, Bernie and Billi Marcus created the Georgia Aquarium, the largest aquarium in the world. With 60 exhibits, 550,000 square feet and 10 million gallons of water, it houses more than 125,000 animals. More than 20 million guests have visited since its opening in 2005. Within the building is a state-of-the-art animal health facility to care for the Aquarium’s 125,000 animals. The facility is the world’s only integration of an aquarium and an aquatic veterinary medicine teaching hospital.
Bernie and Billi Marcus have received The Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service, which is given to individuals who have served with distinction in public life. Bernie was named the inaugural recipient of Inc. 500’s Bernard A. Goldhirsh Award, was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame, and has received the USO Patriot Award, the SeaKeeper Award for promoting the restoration and protection of the world’s oceans, and the Anti-Defamation League’s Democratic Legacy Award. Mr. Marcus received the 2012 William E. Simon Award for Philanthropic Leadership from the Philanthropy Roundtable, given to “highlight the power of philanthropy to promote positive change,” to living donors who have shown exemplary leadership through their own charitable giving, either directly or through foundations they have created.