The Richard O. Jacobson Foundation seeks to honor the memory of its founder by supporting the causes and organizations that engaged and inspired him in his lifetime, focusing primarily upon building strong and sustainable communities in Iowa.

It's all about changing lives, and working with organizations that help the most people in the most effective way.
- Dick Jacobson

The Foundation

The Richard O. Jacobson Foundation was created in 1976 by distinguished businessman and philanthropist Richard "Dick" Orrin Jacobson. For more than 40 years, the foundation has focused its grant activities in the following areas: education, including primary, secondary and higher education; youth development; medical research.


Through Dick's generosity, the Richard O. Jacobson Foundation has aided in the development of several buildings and facilities at the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, the University of Northern Iowa, Drake University, Grand View University, Junior Achievement's Exchange City, Youth Homes of Mid-America, Youth & Shelter Services, Special Olympics of Iowa, Science Center of Iowa and Orchard Place.

The foundation granted $100 million to the Mayo Clinic Proton Beam Therapy Program in 2011, signifying the largest outright gift in Mayo Clinic history. The foundation has also provided substantial contributions to Belmond Elementary School, Iowa Hall of Pride, Des Moines Public Library, Iowa State Fair, Blank Children's Hospital, Boys and Girls Club, Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Jacobson Culinary Arts Academy and many more.

Richard "Dick" Orrin Jacobson

Richard "Dick" Jacobson was born in Greeley, Colorado on October 18, 1936 to Orrin and Ruby Jacobson. In 1941, the family moved to Belmond, Iowa, where Dick attended school until graduating in 1954.

From grade school through high school, Jacobson ambitiously pursued part-time jobs, including collecting old newspapers for recycling during World War II. He earned enough money to pay for his college expenses at the University of Iowa, where he earned his bachelor's degree in business administration in 1957.

After graduating, Dick spent three years in the Army before going to work for Monsanto Chemical Co. from 1961 to 1966. He became an independent agricultural chemical wholesaler for two years before founding Jacobson Warehouse Company in 1968. With $3,500 saved from previous work, The Jacobson Warehouse Company was born.

Over the years, Dick built The Jacobson Companies into one of the largest privately-owned warehouse organizations in the nation, with more than 9,000 employees, 194 locations and 35 million square feet across the United States. He expanded the business to include: Jacobson Investment Company, Jacobson Transportation Company, Jacobson Packaging Company, Jacobson Logistics Company and Jacobson Staffing Company. He was also a significant partner in establishing Hawkeye Renewables, the third-largest ethanol producer in the United States.

Dick was an Iowa business icon and someone who relished in his philanthropic efforts around the country. Dick was a native of Belmond, Iowa and was very generous to his hometown as well as educational institutions and our state universities. He also gave the largest gift to Mayo Clinic they had ever received of $100 million. He will be greatly missed.
- Governor Terry Branstad

Awards and Recognition

Dick always found ways to give his time, talent and financial resources to help others by fulfilling his goal of "making money to give money." He encouraged others to live with the spirit of generosity, which earned him numerous recognitions and awards, including:

  • University Hawk of the Year Award in 1995
  • University of Iowa Distinguished Friend of the University Award in 2000
  • Appointment as Iowa State University Foundation Governor
  • 12th Most Generous Person of 2011, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy

Dick also earned the highest honor an Iowan can receive - The Iowa Award. Created by the Iowa Centennial Memorial Foundation conferred every five years "to encourage and recognize the outstanding service of Iowans in the fields of science, medicine, law, religion, social welfare, education, agriculture, industry, government and other public service." Jacobson was presented the award in 2012 by Governor Terry Branstad.


Thank you for your interest in The Richard O. Jacobson Foundation. Mr. Jacobson's estate is currently being settled and the foundation will be its ultimate beneficiary. Please note that while this is process is ongoing over the next few years, the Board will not consider or approve new grants. At this time, foundation activity will be kept at a minimum, focused on fulfilling pre-existing grant commitments.

Once the estate is settled and the foundation has completed its planning process, the website will be updated with new information. At the moment, it is very likely that the foundation will consider grants on an invitation-only basis and focus its support on those causes and organizations that were most important to Mr. Jacobson in his lifetime.

We thank you for your patience and understanding as well as your interest in the foundation and Mr. Jacobson's legacy.


If you have any questions regarding the Richard O. Jacobson Foundation, please contact:

Richard O. Jacobson Foundation
505 Fifth Avenue, Suite 321
Des Moines, IA 50309