Mike Armstrong began his life in 1938 in a middle-class neighborhood in Detroit, Michigan. After graduating from college in 1961 with a bachelors in business administration, he took an entry level job at IBM. From those humble beginnings, he rose through the ranks at the company, to become one of IBM’s top executives.
After leaving IBM and taking a job as CEO of Hughes Electronics in the early 90s, Mike learned he had late-stage leukemia. Luckily, he survived this deadly disease and continued his career to become CEO of Comcast and ATT.
Believing cancer was a part of his past, Mike enjoyed 10 disease-free years until his doctor told him he had late-stage prostate cancer and likely would only survive another five years. However, Mike managed to survive.
These experiences, along with a number of other life-threatening diseases associated with his cancers, categorically changed Mike’s life. As a result, he and his wife Anne decided to dedicate their lives and the bulk of their savings to helping others who are facing hardships in life and are struggling financially.
Their very first project was inspired by Mike’s experiences visiting children in the cancer ward at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) medical center where he received treatment for his leukemia. Realizing how bored these kids were and how they desperately needed distraction, Mike helped develop and fund mobile play stations for young patients at UCLA and other hospitals in California. This experience gave him a new purpose: to try to help others in need.
Over the years, Mike and Anne have supported many worthy causes. One of these involves improving healthcare for low-income families in Collier County, Florida. Mike learned that more than 50.000 people in Collier County struggle to afford health care. So, he and Anne got involved with supporting the Neighborhood Health Clinic, which provides medical services for working people in Collier County who have an income below two times the poverty level and do not have health insurance.
In addition, Mike and Anne actively support Miami University in Ohio, where they both received their degrees. They developed and supported an ongoing program to provide scholarships for Miami University students in need, which is especially significant for Mike, since he had to drop out of school mid-studies when his father lost his job. They also donated $15 million to create the Armstrong Institute for Interactive Media Studies, an interdisciplinary program that develops new approaches in the creation and use of digital technologies that empower individuals and organizations to invent, innovate, and collaborate in novel ways.
The good work Mike and Anne are doing even reaches beyond US borders to Guatemala, where they provide assistance to poor Mayan villagers by helping build schools, provide health care, and generally improve the living conditions of these people.
One of Mike and Anne’s biggest philanthropic endeavors so far involves supporting medical education and research at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. One project involved helping the school design its new medical school curriculum and also help finance and build a new medical education building specifically designed to accommodate this updated, modern curriculum. They also provided funding to support Dr. Greg Semenza, a researcher in the field of molecular biology at Johns Hopkins University, who shortly thereafter won the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. In addition, the Armstrongs donated $15 million to help create the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality at Johns Hopkins. Roughly 150,000 patients die from preventable medical harm in the United States each year. The Armstrong Institute is recognized as not only one of the first organizations devoted to improving patient safety and quality, but also as one of the leaders in the field.
In addition to the above mentioned, there are many more projects Mike and Anne have and continue to engage in as part of their purpose to ease suffering and help those who are in need. Their involvement in philanthropy goes far beyond helping provide the funding to make these important projects happen. They are both actively involved in designing, planning, and executing many of the initiatives they support, and will continue to do so in the future.