Tulsa, OK

The richest person in Tulsa is giving away billions

Ash Jurberg

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Tulsa's people are among the most generous in the United States.

Last week I wrote about Lynn Schusterman, the richest woman in Tulsa who made the Forbes Top 25 most generous philanthropists list.

There was another Tulsa resident who made this list. George Kaiser is the richest person in Tulsa and, like Schusterman, does all he can to give back to organizations in Tulsa and Oklahoma.

Kaiser gave away $120 million in 2022, meaning he has given $1.68 billion to various organizations over her lifetime.

Let's take a quick look at his story.

The Tulsa billionaire

George Kaiser is the son of immigrants who fled Nazi Germany and settled in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Kaiser was born in Tulsa in 1942 and, in 1966, joined his father's business- Kaiser-Francis Oil Company. Kaiser took over the small business when his father suffered a heart attack in 1969. He grew the business into the 23rd-largest nonpublic energy exploration company in the U.S.

In 1991 he bought the Bank of Oklahoma for $60 million, and he also has a stake in the NBA team, the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Kaiser now has a net worth of $13.9 billion and has promised to give most of it away.


Kaiser is incredibly wealthy but has been generous with his fortune. In 2010 he signed the Giving Pledge, in which he promised to donate most of his wealth.

No child is responsible for the circumstances of her birth and should not be punished for them in this life...I have therefore developed my charitable focus around the concept of providing the greatest opportunity for self fulfillment for each child, focusing on those who arrive in the least advantaged circumstances. George Kaiser

He has established the George Kaiser Family Foundation, which focuses on community health, criminal justice, childhood education, and arts & culture initiatives in his hometown of Tulsa.

Kaiser has pledged to give the balance of his assets, including control of the Bank of Oklahoma, to the George Kaiser Family Foundation at his death.

The foundation helped launch Build In Tulsa, aiming to develop Black entrepreneurship through programs and investing in Black-owned companies. Kaiser has also funded the National Energy Policy Institute, a non-profit energy policy organization located at the University of Tulsa.

Kaiser backed and helped open the Gathering Place, a $465 million, 66-acre riverfront park, in 2018.

In December, Kaiser backed a new program to provide $10,000 each to 10 entrepreneurs in Tulsa to grow their small businesses. He is also driving more growth in Tulsa, supporting a city initiative that offers $10,000 to anyone looking to relocate to Tulsa to bring 1,000 more people to the city in 2023.

There are many more organizations that Kaiser has supported, but unlike many other billionaires, he doesn't seek recognition. He prefers not to have any buildings or organizations named after him.

"Naming rights are a seductive philanthropic inducement, yet more anonymous operational support may better advance the charitable purpose." George Kaiser

Your thoughts

Readers, what do you think of George Kaiser's story? What other organizations in Tulsa do you think he should donate to?

Please leave a comment below with your thoughts and share this article with others so they can join the conversation.

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