USF Receives Record-Breaking Gift from Silicon Valley Philanthropists

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Silicon Valley Philanthropists John A. and Susan Sobrato Pledge $15 Million to USF

The Silicon Valley philanthropists have pledged $15 million to the University of San Francisco, the largest gift from individuals in its history.

John A. and Susan Sobrato

“When I saw War Memorial Gym, I asked myself: Why don’t we modernize this building, bring in the natural light, and make it a much more inviting place not only for athletics but also for all campus events," said Sobrato.

Silicon Valley philanthropist and real estate developer John A. Sobrato and his wife Susan have made an historic gift of $15 million to the University of San Francisco, the largest gift from individuals in the institution’s history.

The gift will support USF's first-ever master plan for athletic facilities, renovate the 60-year old War Memorial Gymnasium, and help USF uphold its tradition of excellence in Division 1 athletics. The multi-use facility will be named The Sobrato Center and will feature a new club level with preferred seating that also bears the Sobrato name.

“As a real estate developer, I like to build things,” Sobrato said. “When I saw War Memorial Gym, I asked myself: Why don’t we modernize this building, bring in the natural light, and make it a much more inviting place not only for athletics but also for all campus events. It’s going to be a great looking building when we’re done.”

War Memorial has witnessed some of USF’s most celebrated athletic victories and notable events, including the visit of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi in 2012 and the Dalai Lama in 2003.

Sobrato is founder of the Sobrato Organization, one of California’s most successful real estate development firms. It developed more than 15 million square feet of commercial real estate in Silicon Valley, including the headquarters for both Apple, Inc. and Netflix, and owns more than 75 commercial properties and 30 apartment communities.

"We are deeply grateful to John and Sue for their remarkable generosity and philanthropic leadership," said USF president Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J. “They are truly men and women for others. Their commitment to giving back, to Jesuit education, and to building community has set a new standard not just here at USF but far beyond."

"This extraordinary gift will transform our facility into a stunning, modern center," said USF Athletics Director Scott Sidwell. "It will help us go beyond winning at the highest levels of competition, and also play an important role in the intellectual and moral development of our student athletes."

The Sobratos have long been among Silicon Valley’s most generous philanthropists, and have made a commitment to give away 100 percent of their wealth during their lifetimes. “We believe that those of us who have had successful business careers have an obligation to give back,” said Sobrato.

During the past two decades, the Sobrato Family Foundation has given nearly $315 million to support education, economic opportunities, and essential human services. One of their education initiatives, the Sobrato Early Academic Language program, now operates in 60 schools and serves 40,000 students in pre-kindergarten through third grade.

The Sobratos also played a key role in creating the Ravenswood Family Health Center, a $35 million health clinic in East Palo Alto.

For their work and generosity, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group awarded the Sobratos its Lifetime Achievement Award in October.

About USF: The University of San Francisco is located in the heart of one of the world's most vibrant and beautiful cities, and its students are among the nation's most ethnically diverse. They enjoy small classes, direct access to faculty, and outstanding opportunities in the city itself. USF is the oldest university in San Francisco, established during the Gold Rush, and its Jesuit Catholic mission helps ignite a student's passion for social justice and a desire to “Change the World from Here.”

For more information, contact Gary McDonald, USF Media Relations, at 415.422.2699, or mcdonald(at)usfca.edu.

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Anne-Marie Devine Tasto

Anne-Marie Devine Tasto
USF
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