Along with her husband Irwin, Joan’s impact on the San Diego region has been immense and transformative for our community, as evidenced by the many organizations whose work and impact has been shaped by their support, including San Diego Foundation.

The impact of the generosity cannot be overstated, with $120 million to the San Diego Symphony, a pledge of $100 million to the prestigious Salk Institute, and over $250 million donated to UC San Diego, among countless other acts of charity and support.

When it comes to philanthropy, we can all learn from Joan’s unparalleled commitment to giving back and the unwavering support of countless organizations. These are a few of the things we, at San Diego Foundation, have learned from Joan.

  • Commit to your community: Joan and Irwin Jacobs signed the Giving Pledge in 2010, a commitment to share most of their wealth with charity. Their heartfelt pledge letter reflects not only their generosity and devotion to community, but also their profound belief in the power of giving back to the place they call home.
  • Support equitable access to opportunity: The Jacobses have a clear dedication to supporting equitable access, exemplified by their generous contributions to initiatives such as the UCSD Black Alumni Scholarship Fund for Engineering, Math, and Science at San Diego Foundation, ensuring that aspiring students have the resources they need to pursue their dreams.
  • Inspire lifelong giving: Joan and Irwin have often mentioned that they come from humble means, but the spirit of giving was always alive and well in their families growing up. They have led by example, following their values of compassion, generosity, and the importance of making a difference in the world.
  • Donate to causes that bring you joy: Joan frequently gave to the arts, a cause that brought her immense joy. Her dedication to the arts is unmatched. When you see a performance at the San Diego Symphony or a play at the Cygnet’s soon-to-be theater The Joan, we hope you can reflect for a moment on how Joan has made our arts community stronger and more accessible for all to enjoy.
  • Make a gift of your time and talents: Joan donated often to the causes she loves, but she also frequently volunteered her time on several nonprofit boards, supporting their growth. Through both her donations and hands-on involvement, she exemplified the importance of giving back and actively volunteering to create meaningful change in the community.

Beyond the figures lies a deeper narrative of compassion and dedication to improving the lives of others. Joan and Irwin Jacobs are not merely benefactors; they have been partners in a mission to uplift our San Diego community and nurture the next generation of leaders.

Joan’s impact reverberates across San Diego, touching educational institutions, cultural organizations, and nonprofits alike. From supporting the arts, the library, schools and cutting-edge research, her dedication to improving our community knew no bounds.

Joan Jacobs

To the entire Jacobs family and all who were near to Joan, all of us at San Diego Foundation send our deepest condolences for this tremendous loss.

May Joan’s legacy serve as a beacon of inspiration, urging us all to embrace her example of making a difference in our communities. We, too, can aspire to create a better world, fueled by the belief in the transformative power of one individual’s actions. In honoring her memory, may we never underestimate the profound impact one person can make.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations to the San Diego Symphony, the Jewish Family Services of San Diego, The Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank, La Jolla Playhouse, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego or the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center.