Thomas S. Monaghan Philanthropy

Thomas S. Monaghan Philanthropy

Orphaned on Christmas Eve in 1941, Thomas S. Managhan was raised successively in foster homes and a Catholic orphanage. He began college at the University of Michigan but never secured a degree due to financial constraints.

By borrowing $900, the then-studying Tom and his brother, James, set up the famous pizza chain out of a pizza parlor called DomiNick’s. Later, his brother sold his shares for a Volkswagen Beetle. In time, Domino’s Pizza branched out across Michigan. Thirty-eight years later, the small pizza store had become the biggest pizza delivery chain on the planet.

At first, Thomas splurged on yachts and vintage cars, and then bought the Detroit Tigers baseball franchise. Monaghan eventually sold his pizza empire to Bain Capital, Inc. for $1 billion in 1998. He decided it was time to use his fortune for more philanthropic causes:

  • To underwrite higher education for Catholics, Thomas Monaghan founded the Ave Maria Foundation. In 1998, he pledged funds to constructing the liberal arts institution, Ave Maria College, in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
  • Ave Maria University, of which he is chancellor, was built next in 2003. Located in Naples, Florida, Ave Maria University has been constructed with $250 million, enough for a facility that hosts 6,000 students.
  • Thomas Monaghan created the public-interest law firm known as the Thomas More Law Center, whose services focus on religion-related cases. In the same vein, his foundation also funded the building of the Ave Maria School of Law.

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