Donald Bren Speaking



At the Irvine Company, Donald Bren has overseen a community commitment guided by a single, overriding goal: improving the quality of lives for all residents.

For more than 50 years, the Irvine Company has worked closely with residents, city officials and other stakeholders to create master-planned communities in coastal California where people flourish in their daily lives.

As a master planner and long-term owner, Mr. Bren and the Irvine Company believe in mixed-use communities that blend housing, business and retail centers into one sustainable and vibrant live/work/play environment. And because of the company’s long-term ownership philosophy, those properties are meticulously maintained and regularly reinvested in to keep them modern and fresh.

As a community entrepreneur, Bren has focused his charitable contributions on areas that enrich the quality of life in California.

He has led the Irvine Company to set aside more than 57,500 acres of the original 93,000-acre Irvine Ranch as permanently protected open space, creating an urban preserve the size of 67 Central Parks within 30 minutes of 3 million people.

The Irvine Ranch’s open spaces and parks emerged from collaborative efforts with governments at the local, state and federal levels as well as with environmental organizations and community groups.

The Irvine Company and the Donald Bren Foundation have contributed more than $200 million toward public schools and four-year universities for programs, events, recognitions and scholarships that advance research and enrich primary education. Community Commitment


Through Irvine Company and the Donald Bren Foundation, Donald Bren has provided more than $220 million to support education in California.

His gifts to public schools and four-year universities are advancing research and enriching primary education, including the following:

Bren has pledged more than $45 million to ensure the continuation of the Excellence in Education Enrichment Fund in the Irvine Unified School District.
  • A unique enrichment program that provides arts, music and science teachers for every fourth- through the sixth-grade classroom in the Irvine Unified School District.
  • An expansion in Orange and Los Angeles counties of THINK Together, a provider of free after-school tutoring services for underprivileged youths.
  • K-12 science initiatives in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District.
  • Classroom and personal grants to IUSD teachers.
  • Enabling the UC Irvine Law School to attract nationally prominent scholars and a strong student base.
  • Advancement of the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at UC Irvine.
  • Major giving to support teaching and research at the Donald Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at UC Santa Barbara.
  • More than 50 endowed chairs at the University of California, Caltech and Chapman University.
  • In 2004, Bren was awarded the University of California Presidential Medal, the UC system’s highest honor in recognition of his significant leadership in higher education.
  • In 2016 Caltech awarded Bren the Institute’s highest honor, the Robert A. Millikan Medal.


Stemming from a decades-long commitment to conservation, The Irvine Ranch is home to one of the nation’s largest and most extraordinary expanses of urban open space and parklands, stretching from the mountains to the sea.

Irvine Ranch Land TrustContinuing a tradition of stewardship on the Irvine Ranch, Donald Bren has donated more than half of the historic 93,000-acre Irvine Ranch — 57,500 acres — to be preserved forever.

The U.S. Department of Interior and the state of California have designated nearly 40,000 acres of these lands as “Natural Landmarks,” one of the most prestigious land preservation designations, rivaling that of the U.S. National Park system.

To protect, enhance, manage and foster public enjoyment of the land, Bren has committed $50 million to the Irvine Ranch Conservancy, which works to guide the steady evolution of these lands into a world-class environmental and recreational treasure.  Watch Forever video.

“My dream is that The Irvine Ranch will be known and celebrated as much for what is not developed here — the sweeping expanse of beautiful and valuable open space — as it is for the outstanding communities we have planned and built offering an unparalleled quality of life.” — Donald Bren


From groundbreaking medical and computer science research to environmental problem-solving through an unusual interdisciplinary approach, Donald Bren’s contributions to leading research institutions are creating new opportunities for scientists, medical researchers and scholars.

The Donald Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara, is home to groundbreaking research that advances an interdisciplinary approach to integrating science, management, law, economics and policy in the school’s curriculum.

University of California IrvineThe Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Irvine, conducts a full range of research, from computer systems built on chips smaller than a fingernail, to leveraging computer science to analyze and improve biological research.

At the Burnham Institute for Medical Research in La Jolla, Calif., financial contributions from Bren are helping support the institute’s pioneering research in the areas of cancer, neurosciences and aging, and infectious and inflammatory diseases.

In 2004, Bren was awarded the University of California Presidential Medal, the UC system’s highest honor in recognition of his significant contributions to higher education.

In 2007, Bren was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.


Donald Bren is part of a group of dedicated community entrepreneurs working to improve education, advance research and enhance conservation.

He has been recognized as one of “The 50 Most Generous Philanthropists” in the nation by BusinessWeek magazine. The magazine cited the $907 million Bren has donated or pledged since 2003 to his three primary areas of philanthropy: education, conservation and research.

Bren’s lifetime giving exceeds $1.3 billion, according to the magazine’s estimates.

In 2007, Bren was elected a Fellow of the Prestigious American Academy of Arts & Sciences.  Fellows are elected worldwide through a highly competitive process and are chosen for their lasting contributions to their disciplines and to society. Bren was elected in the category of Business, Corporate and Philanthropic Leadership – Private Sector.

Donald Bren Irvine Ranch
“BusinessWeek ranked Mr. Bren No. 9 nationally among philanthropists, citing the more than $907 million he has given or pledged since 2003. Mr. Bren’s lifetime giving exceeds $1.3 billion, according to the magazine’s estimates.” — BusinessWeek
“Donald Bren's latest gift to Irvine schools struck precisely the soft spot in the heart of the community. This is a community that values and demands an exceptional education for its children; it cherishes and fights for an education enriched with the arts and sciences.” — Irvine World News editorial
“His action guarantees that the rocky outcroppings, deep canyons, fern grottoes and even a rare grove of Tecate Cypress trees will go undisturbed in perpetuity.” — Sunset Magazine
“There is no other company in America that compares to Irvine Company's unparalleled commitment to investing in and successfully enhancing the quality of life of a community. They set the standard." ” — Bryan Starr, President and CEO, Greater Irvine Chamber
“His contributions to the UC system — and, through those contributions, to the advancement of knowledge and the improvement of our quality of life — have been nothing short of extraordinary.” — former UC Provost M.R.C. Greenwood