Broad is well known for his philanthropic donations and his extensive art collection. A strong advocate of the city, he is actively involved in the on-going projects to revitalize downtown Los Angeles, and is an ardent supporter of efforts to raise the city's cultural profile.
Broad made his initial fortune in real estate at his company Kaufman & Broad. He is also a founder of the financial giant SunAmerica. He was CEO of SunAmerica, now a subsidiary of the American International Group, until the year 2000. With an estimated current net worth of around $5.8 billion, he is ranked by Forbes as the forty-second richest person in America.
In 1991, Broad endowed the Eli Broad College of Business at his alma mater Michigan State University, from which he graduated cum laude in 1954.
The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard was founded with a $100 million donation to MIT from Broad and his wife, Edythe, in 2003. In 2005, the couple donated another $100 million to Harvard.
Eli and Edythe Broad are the founders of The Broad Foundation, which states as its mission “to dramatically transform American urban public education so that all children receive the skills and knowledge to succeed in college, careers and life.”
On April 25th, 2007, the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation joined forces with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledging a joint $60 million to create Strong American Schools, a nonprofit project responsible for running Ed in 08, an information and initiative campaign aimed at encouraging 2008 presidential contenders to include education in their campaign policies.
The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation gave $56 million to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art as part of LACMA's renovation campaign to create the Broad Contemporary Art Museum. Broad himself serves on LACMA's Board of Directors.
He is also a member of the California Institute of Technology Board of Trustees and endowed the Broad Center there..
Eli and Edythe Broad's art collection, the Broad Art Foundation, includes nearly 2000 works of Modern and contemporary art. The collection was one of the most sought-after by museums in the United States until January 2008, when Broad decided that the foundation would retain permanent control of the collection and make loans to museums rather than give any of the art away.