Philanthropists John and Leigh Middleton are recipients of the 2013 Philadelphia Award, the venerable honor established in 1921 by Ladies' Home Journal editor Edward W. Bok.
The Middletons - whose family business, tobacco and cigar maker John Middleton Co., was sold in 2007 for $2.9 billion - have largely directed their philanthropy to education, homelessness, and workforce development projects.
Among the more notable beneficiaries of their largesse are the Philadelphia School District, Philadelphia Academies, the Philadelphia Youth Network, Teach for America, and Penn Medicine's Neuroscience of Behavior Initiative. A $16.2 million gift announced in 2012 is being used for several educational and work-training programs.
The couple have been particularly generous supporters of Project HOME, where Leigh Middleton is a board member. Over the years, she and her husband, co-owner of the Phillies, have given $30 million to Project HOME, said its executive director, Sister Mary Scullion - a gift meant to be "a catalyst, a call to action, to end chronic street homelessness in Philadelphia."
The intention was to stimulate a larger drive to raise $300 million over five to eight years, she said, to develop affordable housing for youth aging out of foster care as well as people who are homeless currently.
Scullion said the gift was the largest donation ever to Project HOME. "It's great the city has leaders like that - very thoughtful, very involved, and very results-oriented. The more of this kind of leadership that evolves, the stronger our city will be for now and for the future."
The award, which will be presented at ceremonies this spring, comes with a medal designed by Philadelphia artist Violet Oakley and a $25,000 cash award, which the Middletons will in turn donate to Project HOME. Previous winners of the Philadelphia Award include Leopold Stokowski, Marian Anderson, Louis I. Kahn, and Walter and Leonore Annenberg.