Our Founders: David and Laura Merage
Together, David and Laura Merage are the founders of several philanthropic organizations, with a unified mission to promote self-sufficiency through education and community development. David and Laura founded RedLine Art, an art incubator promoting the creative expression of visual and performing artists, as well as Early Learning Ventures, a shared services platform, providing operational resources to child care providers allowing them to focus more on educating and developing children.
In 2000, Laura and David launched a program to provide education, training, and community connections to Israeli immigrants as they transition to a new lifestyle and culture. The Merage Foundation’s efforts in Israel have expanded significantly, and currently include several new program areas with a focus on community development and education in the underserved Negev region of Israel.
David Merage: In 1976, David Merage co-founded Chef America, Inc., a national frozen food manufacturer known for inventing and marketing products including Hot Pockets, Lean Pockets and Croissant Pockets. At the time of its sale in 2002 to Nestlé, the company had reached $750 million in annual sales, employed 1,800 people and was growing at a rate of 15 percent per year, making it one of the fastest growing food companies in the world.
Today, David is an investor and venture philanthropist. Through his company, Consolidated Investment Group (CIG), David invests in real estate and Wall Street, and he also invests in people through his foundation, the David and Laura Merage Foundation. The primary mission of his foundation is to promote self-sufficiency through education and community development, both in the United States and in Israel. Mirroring his approach to business, David’s philanthropic mission is to develop new systems or improve existing ones, select like-minded individual and organizational partners, and bring each project to successful completion together. His management team is comprised of experts in the education and nonprofit sectors, supported by senior-level finance, legal, management and marketing professionals.
David was born in Tehran, Iran in 1949 as one of five children to Andre and Katherine Merage. At the age of fifteen, he traveled to England to pursue his studies and then completed his formal education in the United States with a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing from California State University.
Laura Merage: Laura Merage was born in Tehran, Iran and immigrated to Los Angeles at the age of fifteen. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Southern California and her Masters Degree in Art from New York University. Laura is an artist/photographer with works in public and private collections nationally and internationally. Her work keeps her traveling for shows as well as inspiration. She keeps studios in Denver, Hawaii and Israel.
Laura has launched several philanthropic organizations, including RedLine in Denver, an organization that Laura founded which is an urban art laboratory, promoting the creative expression of visual and performing resident artists. Laura is also the founder of Black Cube, an experimental art museum that operates nomadically and works with artists to produce pop up exhibitions in unexpected places.
Laura serves on the Anti-Defamation League Board of Directors (Mountain States Region and National), and is deeply committed to their mission of promoting justice and fair treatment to all. Laura’s dedication to her community extends to organizations promoting Jewish Life, the arts, and Early Childhood Education.