Sidney Kimmel was born and raised in Philadelphia, and the philanthropic footprint he has created here evidences an unparalleled devotion to his hometown. From his very humble roots, first in South then West Philadelphia, Mr. Kimmel went on to found the Jones Apparel Group, developing it into a New York Stock Exchange company and one of the world’s leading designers and marketers of branded apparel, footwear and accessories.
Sidney Kimmel's first job in the garment industry was as an inventory clerk and later a traveling salesman for a women’s-wear manufacturer. He joined the iconic clothing company Villager, rising through the ranks to become its president and CEO. In 1970, Mr. Kimmel established his own clothing line, Jones New York, targeting young career women and, during the 70s and 80s, became one of the major players in the women’s apparel industry. Jones went public in 1991, adding many notable brands to its line, including Anne Klein, Nine West, Gloria Vanderbilt and Stuart Weitzman, among others; Jones also owned Barneys New York. In April, 2014, The Jones Group was sold for $2.2 billion.
As early as 2002, Business Week recognized that Mr. Kimmel was among a very small group of the nation’s wealthiest who had already given more than half of his fortune to philanthropic works and had committed to giving the balance of his estate to further those efforts. In 2010, he readily signed the Giving Pledge, the Warren Buffett and Bill Gates initiative encouraging America’s billionaires to contribute half of their wealth to charitable endeavors.
Of the $850 million-plus that Mr. Kimmel has given away, more than $550 million has gone to cancer research. He established the Kimmel Scholars Program, which funds young, innovative cancer scientists with their earliest grants to stimulate their research and advance their careers. With 250 award recipients to date, the Program has launched the next generation of the nation’s leading cancer researchers. Major gifts also subsidized cancer research and care at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, the Sidney Kimmel Center for Prostate and Urologic Cancers at Memorial Sloan Kettering, research programs championed by the Stand Up To Cancer effort, and much more. Mr. Kimmel has been a generous benefactor to Jefferson, providing major funding to establish the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center as well as meaningful gifts for research into the prevention of cardiovascular disease. His most recent gift—the largest in Jefferson’s history—to name the Sidney Kimmel Medical College demonstrates Mr. Kimmel’s recognition of Jefferson’s 190-year tradition of medical excellence and his confidence in Jefferson’s path-breaking leadership in the future of health care.
Mr. Kimmel has also made substantial gifts to organizations promoting the arts, education, health sciences and Jewish continuity. In Philadelphia, his philanthropic leadership established the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, and he provided endowment gifts to the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and the Raymond and Ruth Perelman Jewish Day School. The Kimmel Theater in the National Constitution Center is named in his honor, and he is also lead donor to the National Museum of American Jewish History.
Mr. Kimmel and his wife, Caroline, reside in California and New York.