While his old Microsoft buddy and co-founder Bill Gates is busy fighting

While his old Microsoft buddy and co-founder Bill Gates is busy fighting malaria, the man behind the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation has been reshaping his hometown. Though today a Mercer Island resident, the once-bearded billionaire’s giving goes way beyond the Seahawks’ improved fortunes in the NFL. Over the past 20 years, his foundation has awarded over $450 million in grants. Local cultural entities include ACT, 4Culture, Velocity Dance Center, the Wing Luke Museum, SIFF, the Seattle Symphony, and SAM. Also on the long list of beneficiaries are the Seattle Public Library, the UW (hence the Allen Library), the Burke Museum, the Tacoma Art Museum, Northwest Film Forum, and the Bellevue Arts Museum. As an individual, of course, Allen bought and refurbished the Cinerama and built the EMP Museum (still a reliable tourist draw). And though the ill-fated Seattle Commons scheme didn’t work out, the now-thriving South Lake Union amounts to a huge economic gift to the city, too. All those free-spending young programmers may not be using MS-DOS anymore, but we might not have them there were it not for Paul Allen.

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