Facts About Lowell


 School and Early Career 

  • Lowell Milken was born in Los Angeles and is a product of California’s public schools from primary through graduate schools.  He attended the University of California, Berkeley where he graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa and was recognized with the Most Distinguished Student Award in the Business School. 
  • Lowell graduated from UCLA Law School in 1973 where he was awarded the honor of Order of the Coif for high academic standing and he was a member of Law Review.
  • Lowell was hired by the law firm of Irell & Manella directly out of law school and practiced tax law with Irell & Manella from 1973 until 1978.
  • In 1982, at the age of 33, Lowell co-founded and formulated the mission of the Milken Family Foundation and has served as Chairman since its inception.  Today, the Milken Family Foundation has a track record of innovative and groundbreaking initiatives in the worlds of public education and medical research.
  • In 1984, Lowell established a Teacher Incentive Fund Grant Program at schools in Los Angeles to increase the skills, knowledge and experience of teachers by providing teachers with curricula, study and travel grant opportunities. 
  • In 1984, Lowell established grant programs at UC Berkeley and the University of Pennsylvania to supplement academic salaries in order to attract and retain outstanding young professors and academic scholars.
  • In 1985, Lowell conceived the Milken Educator Awards, which would become the largest teacher recognition program in the nation.  Today, more than 2500 educators have been honored for their extraordinary achievements, each recipient receiving an unrestricted financial prize of $25,000. 
  • In 1986, Lowell founded the Lowell Milken Family Foundation, a private philanthropic organization focused on strengthening communities through innovation and education.
  • In 1987, Lowell helped formulate the University-Community Outreach program to facilitate campus and community collaborative projects to benefit both university students and members of the community where the university was located.  Through this effort, the Milken Young Entrepreneurs Program (YEP) was piloted at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, expanding soon after to Columbia University and UC Berkeley.
  • From 1979 until 1989, Lowell worked at Drexel Burnham & Co. and its successor, Drexel Burnham Lambert.  At Drexel, Lowell used his business and law expertise to specialize in the reorganization of bankrupt companies and in the research of distressed securities.  He also had involvement in tax planning, investments for the company and its employees, and various administrative matters.
  • Lowell was employed at Drexel in a departmental executive position.  Lowell never sought, nor did his position require of him, to be licensed by the SEC, the New York Stock Exchange, or any other securities agency or entity.


  • In November 1986, the government commenced what may have been the most intensive and longest investigation into possible securities law violations in its history, with respect to the firm of Drexel Burnham Lambert and Michael Milken, Lowell’s brother.  
  • After almost four years of intense investigation, unrelenting press leaks and other unconventional pressure tactics, Lowell’s brother agreed to resolve all matters by pleading to certain crimes. The activities that Michael Milken pled to had never before and have never since been prosecuted as crimes. 
  • Lowell had no involvement in any of the activities that were the subject of the plea.
  • Lawyers who were intimately involved in the defense of Michael Milken and the lawyers who represented Lowell Milken attested to the fact that, from the beginning of the investigation, it was clear that Lowell was targeted solely due to his last name.  This was further proven when, in a highly unusual move, all charges against Lowell were dismissed voluntarily by the government. 
  • When Michael Milken decided to settle all his matters with the government, the SEC insisted that Lowell Milken also settle claims made by the SEC.  Lowell was prepared to continue to contest all charges and refused to admit any wrongdoing. At the same time, Lowell did not want to stand in the way of his brother.  Therefore, when the SEC offered a settlement whereby Lowell could enter into a Consent Decree in which he did not admit any wrongdoing whatsoever and did not have to pay any fines, he agreed to the settlement terms without any finding of wrongdoing.
  • In the Consent Decree, Lowell agreed to refrain from being “associated” with a broker, dealer, investment company, investment advisor or municipal securities dealer. 
  • Lowell had never been “associated” with any such persons or entities at that time and he never intended to be so associated with any such persons or entities in the future.
  • After Lowell settled with the SEC, the New York Stock Exchange asked to take his deposition.  Lowell was never a member of the NYSE, had never desired to be a member of the NYSE, nor was he required by law to show up for the deposition.  As a result, Lowell did not show up knowing that he would be banned from affiliation with the NYSE.

Mid-Career to Present

  • In 1989, Lowell co-founded the Milken Institute, a public charity and nonpartisan think tank focused on creating a more democratic and efficient global economy.
  • In the early 1990s, Lowell helped establish Milken Community High School, a nationally known Jewish day school offering more than 800 students a college preparatory education designed to develop students intellectually, spiritually, artistically and physically. 
  • In the early 1990’s, Lowell and others purchased the controlling interest in Heron International, a worldwide leader in property development and investment.  For more than a decade, Lowell has served as Chairman of Heron International.
  • In the mid-1990s, Lowell Milken co-founded Knowledge Universe, a world-wide enterprise focused on education from early childhood through post-retirement.  Today, Knowledge Universe is the world’s largest private provider of early childhood education and employs more than 38,000 people.     
  • In 1999, Lowell introduced the TAP System for teacher and student advancement.  TAP has grown to become the longest-standing, multi-state comprehensive school reform in the area of teacher quality and performance systems. Today, TAP impacts more than 200,000 educators and 2.5 million students.
  • In 2002, Lowell made the lead gift to launch High Tech Los Angeles, an innovative LAUSD public charter school that engages a diverse student population in a rigorous curriculum rich in technology and complemented by real-world internships.  HT-LA achieved California Distinguished School status in record time.
  • In 2005, Lowell founded the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, a public charity operating the TAP system for comprehensive education reform, as well as the Best Practices Center, which provides innovative services, support and solutions to schools, districts and states to improve educator effectiveness.
  • In 2007, Lowell founded the Lowell Milken Center, a public charity that works with schools around the world to teach respect and understanding among all peoples by developing history projects of unsung heroes whose actions promote these values.
  • In 2009, Lowell was honored by UCLA School of Law as the 2009 Public Service Alumnus of the Year.  Later that year, Lowell helped establish the Milken Business Law and Policy Fund.
  • In 2011, Lowell Milken made a founding gift to the UCLA School of Law to establish the Lowell Milken Institute for Business Law and Policy.  The Institute’s creation is the culmination of a three-year process of exploration initiated by UCLA Law’s leadership with Lowell to develop initiatives in business and law that will serve students, faculty and the public at the highest levels of scholarship and real-world experience.
  • In 2015, with generous support from the Lowell Milken Family Foundation, Lowell Milken and ArtCenter founded the Hoffmitz Milken Center for Typography (HMCT) in memory of Professor Leah Hoffmitz Milken, Lowell's late wife and well-known typographer, letterform designer and esteemed ArtCenter faculty member.
  • In 2017, The Education Commission of the States has announced Lowell Milken as the year's James Bryant Conant Award recipient, one of education’s most prestigious honors.
  • In 2020, the Herb Alpert School of Music at UCLA announced the founding of the Lowell Milken Center for American Jewish Experience (MAJE), thanks to a transformative gift and from the Lowell Milken Family Foundation.
  • In 2021, the new Program on Philanthropy and Nonprofits was announced by the Lowell Milken Institute for Business Law and Policy at UCLA School of Law, an innovative new initiative to build on Lowell's vision to provide students with the opportunities to utilize a legal background to inform future careers in business and philanthropy.

Selected Honors and Awards:

  • National Association of State Boards of Education
  • Horace Mann League
  • National Association of Secondary School Principals
  • Jewish Theological Seminary
  • UCLA School of Law 2009 Public Service Alumnus of the Year
  • Hebrew Union College honorary Doctor of Humane Letters
  • Kappa Delta Pi Inaugural International Award for Excellence in Education to Lowell Milken and the Milken Family Foundation (November 2011)
  • 2017 Recipient of the James Bryan Conant Award from the Education Commission of the States