Former U.S. Senator
Founder of Herb Kohl Philanthropies | Milwaukee
Milwaukee native Herb Kohl worked in his family-owned Kohl’s Corp. grocery and department store business before being elected to four terms in the U.S. Senate, where he served from 1989 to 2013.
He founded the Herb Kohl Educational Foundation in 1990 to disburse grants to Wisconsin students, teachers and schools. Since its inception, the foundation has awarded nearly $18.5 million in grants and scholarships to more than 7,670 people. In recent years, the foundation has flash-funded all Wisconsin teachers’ funding requests through the crowd-funding platform DonorsChoose.org
In 1985, four years before taking office, he bought the Milwaukee Bucks for $18 million to keep the NBA franchise in the city. After 30 years, he sold the Bucks in 2014 for $550 million to New York-based billionaires Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry and made a $100 million contribution toward a new arena for the team, the largest single gift in Wisconsin at the time.
In 1995, he donated $25 million to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to construct what would become the Kohl Center, the home of UW’s men’s and women’s basketball teams and men’s hockey team. Kohl was also one of 10 original investors in the Milwaukee Brewers. He was elected to the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007.
He also gave $1.5 million to the La Follette School of Public Affairs at UW-Madison to create the Herb Kohl Public Service Research Competition in 2016.
As of 2016, he was the wealthiest person in the city of Milwaukee, according to Forbes, which estimated his net worth to be between $630 million and $1.5 billion.
Education: Bachelor’s, UW-Madison; MBA, Harvard University