Balboa Park, San Diego –  One of Thomas Ackerman’s favorite places.


Thomas C. Ackerman was born in San Diego, December 27, 1927.  He attended San Diego State College, earning a degree in economics and graduating first in his class.  He went on to School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley – Boalt Hall, receiving his J.D. degree in 1953, again occupying the coveted position of first in his class.

Having been invited to join the Order of the Coif, a national honor society for top-level law school graduates he became a key member of the organization for years to come.  Mr. Ackerman was editor-in-chief of the California Law Review and a proud member of the Phi Alpha Delta legal fraternity.

Being sought after by a host of national law firms, he chose to join Gray, Cary, Ames & Frye based in his home town, San Diego.  He became a partner in the firm in 1959 and went on to handle countless important transactions for the most prominent businesses in San Diego.   He retired from the firm in 1990 but remained of Counsel until his death, February 13, 1991.

Mr. Ackerman was a quiet, reserved man with a whip-smart intellect and passion for the law that he shared with the many fortunate enough to have worked with him.  He leaves behind a legacy filled with a deep sense of community in San Diego and his Foundation, now approaching its 25th year, does all it can to continue along his well-defined path of looking after the greater good.

The Thomas C. Ackerman Foundation. Grants for the greater good.

Letter from the President

Dear Fellow San Diegans:

The Thomas C. Ackerman Foundation is now into its second quarter century of grant making.  The Foundation has made grants in excess of $7 million dollars to over 650 organizations in the San Diego region; making a difference in this wonderful community we are all fortunate enough to call our home.

In 2005, the Board of Directors implemented a new emphasis to increase grants supporting K thru 12 STEM education programs, particularly those being pursued in under-served areas of San Diego County.

With that in mind and through our ever-expanding experience in considering, evaluating and supporting programs dedicated to the education of youth, especially at-risk youth (and perhaps the first in their family with a real opportunity to attend college), the Board of Directors has determined to expand the emphasis in our grant-making to include K thru College programs.

While we will remain focused on making grants across the spectrum of health and human services, community development, culture and other worthy causes, we expect our emphasis to move toward making a greater proportion of grants to K thru College programs.

Collaboration is an important component of our grant-consideration process.  We have had a long-held interest in funding collaborative initiatives that address areas of need in which we have made grants in the past.  The Foundation will continue to seek out these opportunities, including particularly, efforts by potential grant recipients to pool resources and work together.

All of us on the Board are proud to have the opportunity to serve the San Diego community through the ongoing activities of the Foundation and providing our community grants for the greater good.

Robert G. Copeland
The Thomas C. Ackerman Foundation