The Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation is a private family foundation founded in 1966 by Mortimer and Mimi Levitt to support the arts, culture and education. Today, through its commitment to creative placemaking, the Levitt Foundation supports the activation of underused public spaces, such as neglected parks, vacant downtown lots and former brownfields, into welcoming destinations where the power of free, live music brings people together to create equitable, healthy and thriving communities.
Having made his fortune through the fashion menswear company he founded, The Custom Shop, Mortimer Levitt was an outspoken advocate for the arts and dedicated philanthropist. The Levitt family was the primary benefactor of the original Levitt Pavilion in Westport, Conn., which opened in 1974 and transformed the town dump into a community gathering space for free outdoor concerts.
In 1999, the continuing success of the Levitt Pavilion in Westport inspired Mortimer to lay the groundwork for a national network of Levitt venues, so communities across the country could come together through the shared experience of free concerts under the stars. When Mortimer was 90, he sold his company (which included 70 Custom Shop retail branches nationwide) and transferred the proceeds to the Mortimer Levitt Foundation for the purpose of helping communities across America establish their own Levitt venues. He later passed on the reigns of the Foundation to his daughter, Liz Levitt Hirsch, to oversee its venture philanthropy program.
Mortimer passed in 2005 at the age of 98. In 2012, the Foundation was renamed the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation in honor of Mimi’s contributions to philanthropy and advancing the Levitt mission. Mimi passed in 2019 at the age of 97. Liz now serves as the Levitt Foundation Board President, and her brother, Peter Levitt, is a board member.
Over the past two decades, Levitt’s venture philanthropy model has expanded to become a national network of Levitt venues and Levitt AMP concert sites, each creating positive social impact and vibrancy in their communities. Mortimer’s long held belief that all people, regardless of their socioeconomic circumstance, should have access to the joy of free, outdoor music continues to inspire the work of the Foundation. To date, the Levitt Foundation has supported the development of nonprofit Levitt venues in nine cities, with three additional venues in development, and has supported more than 50 communities across America through the Levitt AMP grant program, including the 33 communities that will present the 2023-2025 Levitt AMP Music Series.
All it took was one visit by the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation for them to know that Arlington was the perfect place for a Texas Levitt Pavilion. Local officials and dedicated community volunteers agreed. The Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation committed $250,000 towards the construction of Levitt Pavilion Arlington as well as pledging annual support. In just a few short months, Arlington raised $1.2 million to make the Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts and Founders Plaza the crowning jewel in the revitalization of Downtown Arlington and a much needed community gathering place for everyone – all ages, all ethnicities, all backgrounds and all income levels. Learn more about Levitt Foundation here: https://www.levitt.org/