Meet Philanthropy's Next Generation

Every year a select group of entrepreneurs and business people upset the status quo. Whether their source of wealth is a hot startup like Nasty Gal or Instagram, or savvy leadership at a hedge fund, we deem them each likely to join the future ranks of The Forbes 400. And in a special twist this year, we are also highlighting some of philanthropy’s up-and-coming faces: the heirs and self-made rich who are using their money for good in distinctive and innovative ways.

Howard W. Buffett, Howard G. Buffett Foundation

Last year Howard W. Buffett (Warren’s grandson) became the executive director of his father’s Howard G. Buffett Foundation. Buffett, 28, earned a master’s at Columbia and worked for the Gates Foundation and the Departments of Agriculture and Defense under President Obama. The $2 billion foundation focuses on basic needs in the Third World and self-sufficiency in rural communities.

Katherine Lorenz, President and Treasurer, Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation

Katherine Lorenz’s grandfather George Mitchell made his fortune pioneering natural gas shale drilling, employing horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracking to crack open the Barnett shale field in Texas. Now his Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation is dedicated to creating a more sustainable planet. One $6 million Texas-based venture is devoted to capturing the expertise of the state’s traditional energy leaders to move the state toward a cleaner energy portfolio. Another venture focuses on preserving undeveloped underground water supplies in central Texas. Lorenz, 33, has been overseeing the foundation since early 2011. Previously, she served as deputy director of the Institute for Philanthropy. She also lived and worked in Oaxaca, Mexico for nearly six years where she cofounded Puente a la Salud Comunitaria, a non-profit working to eradicate malnutrition in rural Oaxaca. Her experience has taught her that climate, food and poverty are all intricately connected. "If you don't really look at climate change and really take it seriously," she told FORBES, "you can spend all of your time working with the farmers but this bigger issue will really make their lives not worth living."

John Kluge, Cofounder, Eirene

The adopted son of John Kluge Sr. is out to ensure that 95% of his late father’s assets will be put to philanthropic use. Kluge, 29, started the for-profit angel firm Eirene to support only initiatives that will affect at least 1 billion people. First up: provide 1 million toilets to the developing world. Other interests: waste collection and fertilizer and methane production.

Laura Ricketts, Co-owner, Chicago Cubs; Founder, LPAC

The first openly lesbian owner of a sports franchise, Ricketts, 44, focuses on equality issues. Was a longtime board member of Lambda Legal; she also donates to Housing Opportunities for Women and the Chicago-based Howard Brown Health Center. While her father, J. Joe Ricketts, pounds Obama via his Super PAC, hers backs pro-gay candidates.

Joshua P. Rechnitz, The New York City Fieldhouse

Rechnitz, 47, gave $40 million to fund a fieldhouse with an indoor cycling racetrack in Brooklyn Bridge Park earlier this year. The gift, which covers design and construction, is the largest single donation ever made to New York City parks. His grandfather Robert Heilbrun was a Depression-era investor and New York City philanthropist.

Alexander Soros, Alexander Soros Foundation

This April Soros, 26, the son of America’s 15th-richest man, founded his eponymous foundation, a single-donor endeavor set up to promote social justice and human rights. He kicked it off in July with a gala in support of Global Witness, the organization that uncovered Africa’s blood-diamond scandal. Soros sits on the board of his father’s Open Society Foundations.

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