Lowell Milken

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Lowell Milken
Lowell Milken in 2009
Born November 29, 1948
Encino, California
Occupation Businessman, philanthropist [1]
Net worth $1.0 billion[2]

Lowell Milken is co-founder of Knowledge Universe, the largest provider of early childhood education (ECE) in the world. He is also the founder of the TAP System for Teacher and Student Advancement, co-founder and chairman of the Milken Family Foundation,[3] and a former senior vice president in the junk bond trading operation of Drexel Burnham Lambert,[4] and the younger brother of Michael Milken.

Over the past three decades, Lowell Milken has founded additional nonprofit organizations, including the Lowell Milken Family Foundation and the Lowell Milken Center. In 2000, Lowell Milken was named one of America’s most generous philanthropists by Worth Magazine.[5]

Life and Business Career[edit]

Early life[edit]

Lowell Milken was born in Los Angeles to Bernard and Ferne Milken. He grew up in the San Fernando Valley,[6] north of Los Angeles. He attended Hesby Elementary School in Encino, Portola Junior High School in Tarzana and Birmingham High School in Van Nuys,[7] all in the greater Los Angeles area.


Lowell Milken graduated Phi Beta Kappa and with highest honors from the University of California, Berkeley. He earned a law degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, with distinctions of Order of the Coif and UCLA Law Review. He graduated in the top ten percent of his law school class.[8]

Business career[edit]


After graduating from UCLA Law, Lowell joined the law firm of Irell & Manella in the fall of 1973 as an associate and specialized in business and tax law in the Los Angeles-based office for four years.[8]


In 1979, Lowell joined Drexel Burnham Lambert’s High Yield and Convertible Bond Department, also known as the “junk bond” department. He served as a departmental senior vice president until he resigned in 1989. His duties were reported to be “mostly administrative,” but he also provided financial analysis of companies for Drexel.[9] He was not a registered representative with any securities exchange.

In March 1989, resulting from a long investigation of Lowell’s brother Michael Milken, who was charged with racketeering and a "long list of mail, wire and securities frauds," the government issued a 98-count indictment of Michael Milken that also named Lowell in two charges of racketeering and 11 counts of fraud.[10] Michael Milken, in a plea bargain deal, pled guilty and went to prison. As part of that deal, the government dropped charges against Lowell Milken.[11] In March 1991, he was barred from working in the securities industry as part of a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Critics have surmised that the government indicted Lowell in order to put pressure on Michael Milken to settle the case against him, a tactic condemned as unethical by some legal scholars. "I am troubled by - and other scholars are troubled by - the notion of putting relatives on the bargaining table," said Vivian Berger, a professor at Columbia University Law School, in a 1990 interview with the New York Times.[12] As part of the deal, the case against Lowell was dropped. In articles in the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times published in 1990, Lowell was characterized an “unassuming family man” being used as a “bargaining chip,” [13] indicted only to put pressure on his brother.[14]

In March 1991, though never previously a member of the New York Stock Exchange, Lowell was barred from the possibility of obtaining membership in the NYSE or of working in the securities industry as part of a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission. He was also barred from employment by or association with any NYSE member or member organization.[15][16]


After years in the planning stages, in 1996, Lowell co-founded Knowledge Universe with Michael Milken and Larry Ellison.[17] In 2003, Lowell Milken and Michael Milken became the sole owners of the company. In the United States, Knowledge Universe is the largest early childhood education company and operates under the KinderCare® Learning Centers, Knowledge Beginnings®, CCLC®, The Grove School®, Champions® and Cambridge Schools™ brand.[18] Internationally, Knowledge Universe oversees early childhood education, K-12 education and post-secondary education programs and is headquartered in Singapore. Lowell continues to serve as vice chairman of Knowledge Universe Education and he is Chairman of Knowledge Universe Education Holdings Inc.[19]


Milken Family Foundation[edit]

Lowell Milken is co-founder and chairman of the Milken Family Foundation.

Milken Educator Awards[edit]

First presented by Lowell Milken in 1987, the Milken Educator Awards program works with state departments of education to identify teachers, principals and education specialists who are improving student achievement, making significant contributions to a school's level of excellence and elevating the teaching profession.[20] The recipients of the Awards have no knowledge they will receive the Awards educators until the day the Award is presented. The Award carries an unrestricted financial prize of $25,000. Teacher magazine terms coined the phrase “Oscars of Teaching” when referring to the program.[21] Since 1987, the Milken Educator Awards has given $62 million to roughly 2,500 educators.[22]

TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement[edit]

In 1999, Lowell Milken founded the TAP System for Teacher and Student Advancement. TAP is a comprehensive school reform currently impacting more than 20,000 educators and 200,000 students.[23] The TAP system is based on four integrated and aligned elements: Multiple careers paths, continuous school-based professional development, instructionally-focused teacher evaluation, and performance-based compensation for educators.[24] In 2005, Lowell founded an independent public charity to support and manage the TAP System, The National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET),[25] and has since served as its Chairman.[26]

Lowell Milken Center[edit]

The Lowell Milken Center was established by Lowell Milken in 2007 in partnership with Kansas Milken Educator Norman Conard. The public nonprofit organization discovers, develops and communicates the stories of unsung heroes who have made a profound and positive difference on the course of history.[27]

Milken Archive of Jewish Music[edit]

In 1990, Lowell Milken founded the Milken Archive of Jewish Music, a project to preserve music of the American Jewish experience.[28]

Lowell Milken Prostate Cancer Foundation Young Investigator Award[edit]

Lowell Milken has partnered with the Prostate Cancer Foundation to present the Lowell Milken Prostate Cancer Foundation Young Investigator Award[29] to scientists for work in the field of prostate cancer.

Lowell Milken Family Foundation[edit]

Lowell Milken established the Lowell Milken Family Foundation in 1986 to support and provide funding for organizations and initiatives that strengthen communities through education and lifelong learning.[30]

Lowell Milken Institute at UCLA School of Law[edit]

Main Article: Lowell Milken Institute for Business Law and Policy

The Lowell Milken Institute for Business Law and Policy was founded at UCLA School of Law in 2011.[31]


Lowell was honored as UCLA Law 2009 Alumnus of the year for his accomplishments in public and community service, particularly in the area of education and school reform.[32] In 2009, Hebrew Union College presented Lowell with a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, in Los Angeles. In 2004, Lowell was honored by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America during the event "Only in America: Jewish Music in a Land of Freedom."[33] In 2000, Lowell Milken was named one of America’s most generous philanthropists by Worth Magazine. Lowell Milken's work in business and philanthropy has been recognized by the National Association of State Boards of Education, the Horace Mann League and the National Association of Secondary School Principals.


  1. ^ "Lowell Milken & $25,000 for Exceptional Teachers". Talking Note. 2009. Archived from the original on 2 June 2014. 
  2. ^ "The World's Billionares". Forbes. March 5, 2008. Archived from the original on 2 June 2014. 
  3. ^ "Lowell Milken Executive Profile". Bloomberg Businessweek. 
  4. ^ Paltrow, Scot (September 8, 1988). "Lowell Milken's Role at Drexel Varied, Vague". Los Angeles Times. 
  5. ^ Adamson, L., Albo, A., Barrett, A., Good, R., Keating, S., Pennell, A., Silver, D., & Stewart, J. (April 2000) The 100 Most Generous Americans. Worth Magazine, pg 140
  6. ^ "Michael Milken". Nndb.com. Retrieved 2012-03-29. 
  7. ^ "High Tech High Learning Newsletter". January 2005. 
  8. ^ a b Paltrow, Scot J. (September 1988). "Lowell Milken's Role at Drexel Varied, Vague". Los Angeles Times. 
  9. ^ Frantz, Douglas (January 26, 1989). "Lowell Milken Is Much More Than Older Brother's Shadow". Los Angeles Times. 
  10. ^ "U.S. Sees New Milken Indictment". The New York Times. August 1989. 
  11. ^ Kathy Kristoff (April 21, 1990). "MILKEN'S GUILTY PLEA : For Lowell Milken, Michael's Brother, the Case Is Closed". Los Angeles Times. 
  12. ^ Kurt Eichenwalk (May 6, 1990). "Tactics in Wall Street Cases Troubling Some Lawyers". The New York Times. 
  13. ^ Kristof, Kathy M. (April 21, 1990). "MILKEN'S GUILTY PLEA : For Lowell Milken, Michael's Brother, the Case Is Closed". Los Angeles Times. 
  14. ^ Kurt Eichenwald (October 15, 1990). "Business and the Law; U.S. Treatment Of Milken Brother". The New York Times. 
  15. ^ "Milken's Brother Barred". The New York Times. Associated Press. December 4, 1991. 
  16. ^ "Exchange Hearing Panel Decision 91-168". New York Stock Exchange. September 13, 1991. 
  17. ^ Stephen Pizzo (September 10, 2011). "Master of the Knowledge Universe". Forbes.com. 
  18. ^ Linda Baker (February 2011). "Knowledge Universe reaches $1.6 billion in revenue". Oregon Business. 
  19. ^ "Lowell Milken Co-Founder of Knowledge Universe - Knowledge Universe". Kueducation.com. Retrieved 2012-03-29. 
  20. ^ Rick Rojas (November 18, 2010). "Award stuns third-grade teacher". Los Angeles Times. 
  21. ^ Kaija Wilkinson (April 12). Gulfstream Live http://blog.gulflive.com/mississippi-press-news/2011/04/pascagoula_teacher_among_53_fe.html.  Check date values in: |date= (help); Missing or empty |title= (help)
  22. ^ . Main Department of Education http://www.maine.gov/tools/whatsnew/index.php?topic=Portal+News&id=146509&v=article-2008.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  23. ^ "TAP's Impact". Tapsystem.org. Retrieved 2012-03-29. 
  24. ^ Courtney Meznarich (February 25, 2011). ksby.com http://www.ksby.com/news/lucia-mar-unified-school-district-becomes-first-in-calif-to-implement-tap/.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  25. ^ "About NIET Chairman". niet.org. 
  26. ^ "Aikin Elementary receives $5,000 national award". yourhoustonnews.com. March 2012-03-12.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  27. ^ Silvers, Jason E. (2009-12-17). "Fort Scott Tribune: Local News: Milken Center reaches all 50 states (12/17/09)". Fstribune.com. Retrieved 2012-03-29. 
  28. ^ "The Milken Archive of Jewish Music: The American Experience". Milkenarchive.org. Retrieved 2012-03-29. 
  29. ^ "Genome scientist Dr. Jay Shendure receives Prostate Cancer Foundation Young Investigator Award". Washington.edu. 2010-04-15. Retrieved 2012-03-29. 
  30. ^ "LMFF The Lowell Milken Family Foundation". LMFF Lowell Milken Family Foundation. 
  31. ^ Lowell Milken Institute Website
  32. ^ "June 2009". Law.ucla.edu. Retrieved 2012-03-29. 
  33. ^ . Hebrew Union College http://huc.edu/newspubs/pressroom/article.php?pressroomid=299.  Missing or empty |title= (help)