SAN ANTONIO – As the excitement grows at movie theaters around the world over the new "Star Wars" movie, the Santikos theater chain is probably just as excited about the huge $605 million gift it is giving to San Antonio area nonprofit organizations.
When founder John Santikos died last December he gave his entire estate to the San Antonio Area Foundation for distribution to those charitable and service organizations that aligned with his sensibilities.
At the top of that list is art, so it’s no surprise that the San Antonio Museum of Art and the Southwest School of Art were the biggest recipients so far of SAAF grants offered in 2015.
Paula Owen, president of SWSA, said, "We are so grateful, because this gift is going to enable us to complete our capital campaign and move into the next 50 years of our history."
A $1.5 million donation will give the school the money needed to launch the first independent school of art in Texas.
Kim Abernathy’s Childsafe is another recipient, although on a smaller scale. She said the impact on smaller nonprofits that work with vulnerable children is going to change their scope.
"This is really huge. It's an unbelievable generous gift that he gave," Abernathy said.
While it’s not estimated that the estate going to charity is $605 million, some $6.6 million was handed out in 2015, representing 141 grants to 113 agencies.
The city is celebrating as well, noting that this will change the landscape of the area in a good way. For those who knew the man who made such a gracious and record-breaking gesture, it’s not surprising at all.
SAAF president and CEO Dennis Noll said, "I think Mr. Santikos would think of it in terms of senior citizens who lives have been made better or more full because of his grant, young adults who have been able to go to college because of scholarships that he has funded (and) abused children who have been given treatment in emergency shelter."