With the donation, the Howard R. Levine Foundation, as the fund is called, now has an estimated $65 million in assets, the Observer reports. The six hundred thousand shares of Family Dollar that Levine donated to the fund grew significantly in value following a lengthy takeover battle that led to the sale of the family-run company to Dollar General, a competitor, at a price of nearly $80 per share, up from less than $40 a share when Levine established the donor-advised fund in 2010.
Levine and his wife told the Observer that they intend to award at least $3.2 million from the fund to nonprofits in the region focused on the needs of low-income individuals and struggling families — or $1.2 million more than the community foundation awards annually through its discretionary fund. The Levines recently announced that they had committed $1 million in support of FFTC's plan to renovate the Carolina Theatre and have been strong supporters of education and Jewish causes in the region.
Despite his new status as a major philanthropist in the region, however, Levine remains grounded. "I literally picked up the phone and a voice says, 'This is Howard Levine, and I'm concerned about field trips. Can we talk'," said Robert Bush, president of the Arts and Science Council, which received $100,000 from Levine to conduct field trips for third- and fifth-grade children to historic sites, the opera, and the ballet. "He talked about remembering his own field trips as a child and how important they were to him. That's the kind of man we're dealing with here. This gift came from a place deep in his past that he still fondly remembers."