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San Diego
Tuesday, May 28, 2024

BCCA Gets ‘Flagship’ Gift

PHILANTHROPY: Malin & Roberta Burnham Donate $20M

“Every great success story starts with a vision,” says Malin Burnham, a living legend in San Diego’s community of business. This month, Burnham and his wife Roberta will donate $20 million to the Burnham Center for Community Advancement (BCCA) – the visionary organization the couple founded two years ago.

Malin Burnham

The generous gift, first made public on April 12, represents the couple’s largest charitable donation ever to a single organization. In a statement detailing the donation, the Burnhams said their “flagship” gift was inspired by BCCA’s “impactful start and the positive community feedback” since its founding in 2021.

“My work with BCCA is some of the most important I have ever done,” Malin Burnham said this week.

BCCA is headquartered in UCSD’s new Park & Market Center in downtown San Diego. Burnham has dubbed the nonprofit, nonpartisan community-focused organization a “think-and-do tank.”

‘Community Before Self’

“’Community Before Self’ is more than just a motto or the title of a book I wrote, it is an ethos I live by,” Burnham said. “BCCA will carry that banner going forward to bring the community together to help solve the toughest challenges facing our region.”

Tad Parzen

BCCA CEO Tad Parzen echoed those sentiments. “Since our founding two years ago, we have proved instrumental in pushing initiatives and sparking action, such as with the renewed conversations on the fiscal and governance sustainability of Balboa Park and the designation of San Diego-Tijuana as World Design Capital 2024,” Parzen said.

“We have been honored to work alongside the Burnhams these past few years to establish and grow our organization, and we are profoundly grateful for their generosity,” Parzen added. “Through this investment, BCCA will continue to enhance the binational community and have the sustainability to get meaningful things done.”

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria praised the role BCCA has taken in the past two years. “Making the most of San Diego’s many assets requires us to continually strive for improvement, and the Burnham Center for Community Advancement is helping to lead that dialogue on behalf of the region,” Gloria said. “I’m happy to see this investment by the Burnhams to ensure the organization will be able to sustain this important work for many years to come.”

‘Mr. San Diego’

Burnham, who is 95 years old, still remains very active and engaged in San Diego’s business community. The visionary behind the effort to bring the USS Midway to San Diego and develop it into a museum and a one-time part owner of the San Diego Padres, Burnham also has been a huge financial supporter of the region’s higher education institutions and one of San Diego’s most generous philanthropists.

An avid sailor who was instrumental in bringing the America’s Cup to San Diego in 1988, Burnham made his fortune in real estate. He founded the Burnham Center for Community Advancement in 2021 after more than 50 years of community service in the San Diego region, where he’s been honored with a number of accolades, including “Mr. San Diego” and “Philanthropist of the Year.”

Beyond his many professional and personal accomplishments, Burnham said he views the development of the next generation of civic leaders as among his most important work, adding that he had a clear purpose when launching BCCA: “To create a platform that would bring people together to move our community forward, driving positive impacts big and small, for the betterment of the entire region’s quality of life.”

One of BCCA’s first major accomplishments has been co-leading the efforts to secure the designation of San Diego and Tijuana as World Design Capital 2024, which will have a significant economic and cultural impact on the region and showcase the region’s design and innovation prowess on the international stage.

BCCA is also focused on coordinating a regionwide effort to revitalize San Diego’s iconic Balboa Park – an ambitious project that one recent study estimated will cost as much as half a billion dollars.

Burnham Center for Community Advancement

CEO: Tad Seth Parzen
HEADQUARTERS: Downtown San Diego
BUSINESS: Community-oriented nonprofit
CONTACT: 619-329-8389
NOTABLE: The BCCA serves as a nexus point where community stakeholders and multi-sector partners come together to identify regional need.


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