Inspiring Philanthropy

Congressman David Trone gives back and hopes to inspire others to do the same

Article by Shannon Barghols

Photography by Tony Powell

Originally published in Potomac Lifestyle

Philanthropy is a driving force in the world of Congressman David Trone. His desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of monetary funds to meaningful causes is a textbook example of philanthropy. Through his family foundation, his company, and his work in Congress, Trone’s objectives are always the same: mental health, addiction, medical research, and social justice. 

Trone’s Business
Trone started Total Wine & More with his brother in 1991. Total Wine & More has grown to 246 stores in 27 states, and is the largest privately-owned wine retailer in the country. With more than 12,000 employees and sales of $5.5 billion, the opportunity to encourage philanthropy is tremendous. His stores work with charities in the communities where they operate, having given and raised millions for food banks, women’s shelters, organizations, and other groups that play major roles in people’s lives. Over the past two decades, Total Wine & More’s charitable donations totaled more than $200 million of in-kind and monetary donations. In 2021 alone, Total Wine & More donated more than $9 million in monetary and in-kind donations to 13,000 non-profits in 27 states, helping those charities raise more than $60 million for their organizations' good works. For this, it was named to the Top 5 Corporate Philanthropists in the DC Metro area by the Washington Business Journal. 

Trone’s Family Foundation
Trone earned a B.A. from Furman University, graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1977, and an M.B.A. from The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. David met June at Wharton, where she also earned an M.B.A. The Trones live in Potomac, Maryland, and are the proud parents of four children – Michelle, Julia, Natalie, and Rob – who are all young adults. The David and June Trone Family Foundation was established in 2011 to make a difference in the lives of others, with particular emphasis on education, health care and social justice.

Trone’s Public Service 
Trone was elected to serve Maryland’s 6th District in Congress in 2018 and took office in January 2019. In 2020, he was re-elected to serve a second term. He serves on the House Appropriations Committee, the Veterans Affairs Committee, and the Joint Economic Committee. He has championed the fight against addiction, forming the Bipartisan Freshman Working Group on Addiction, a group of 60+ freshmen Members of Congress focused on understanding and responding to the opioid crisis. In his second term, the working group became the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force, devoted to addressing the strong ties between addiction and mental health issues in America. Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed Trone to the National Commission on Combatting Synthetic Opioid Trafficking, committed to studying and addressing the flow of deadly synthetic drugs like fentanyl into our communities. 

Trone’s History of Giving
2022 | Furman University | $10 million

"As a proud alumnus of Furman University, I am honored by the opportunity to give back in a meaningful way on an issue of great personal importance," said Trone earlier this year. The donation will impact three areas. First, $1 million will expand and renovate the counseling center to create more group space and areas to practice mindfulness and provide for the expansion of other services and programs. The space will be renamed the Trone Center for Mental Fitness. Second, another $7.5 million will create the Trone Family Fund for Student Mental Health and Well-Being. It will fund positions to ensure a consistent level of professional staffing. It also endows the position that oversees mental health for the campus and ensures the hiring of a diverse staff that reflects the student population. The remaining $1.5 million will create the Hillel Endowment Fund to provide permanent support to expand and enhance the Furman Hillel for a more robust Jewish life for all students and the broader community. 

2021 | American University | $5 million
Trone’s donation was to AU’s Center for Neuroscience and Behavior, establishing the school's first Eminent Scholar faculty position in an effort to support research. At the time, Trone wrote, “The COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated the health threat of cognitive disorders such as addiction and the lack of effective, accessible treatments. June and I believe the research at AU’s Center for Neuroscience and Behavior has the potential to drive transformational change in the way we address issues of addiction and mental health.”

2018 | John Hopkins Medicine | $1.7 Million
Trone’s donation helped fund the VLDL (Very Large Database of Lipids) Project, which is an ongoing effort to leverage data from different sources for independent use by academic investigators. This research creates a better understanding of the role of lipids in human disease, helping to improve clinical approaches to the treatment of lipids-related diseases.

Trone said, “Advances in basic research are critical to improving health care. At a time when the government is retreating from its support for basic research, we feel a special obligation to accept the responsibility to help in this vital area.”

2017 | Suburban Hospital | $2.5 million
Trone’s donation supports mental and behavioral health services, including addiction treatment and renovations to the crisis outpatient and inpatient units, and to help fund the transformation of Suburban Hospital’s campus. Regarding the donation, Trone said, “We are deeply moved by Suburban Hospital’s commitment to expanding the treatment available for individuals caught in the web of drug addiction. The rhetoric about needing to deal with addiction as a medical issue means nothing in the absence of concrete action. We are proud to be part of making this a reality for our community.”

2016 | Wharton School of The University of Pennsylvania | $5 million
Trone’s gift was used to establish the Trone Family Public Policy Initiative Fund, providing funding for research and other critical support promoting clear, fact-driven, accessible knowledge to stimulate policies that benefit the American public. The Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative (Penn Wharton PPI) is a hub for public policy research and education with one overarching goal: to leverage the University’s resources to foster better-informed policymaking on issues related to business and the economy.

At the time of the donation, Wharton Dean Geoff Garrett said, “David and June’s generosity adds fantastic momentum to the Penn Wharton PPI. I am sincerely grateful for their philanthropy and for their partnership in this rapidly expanding and exciting initiative. Their support will benefit Wharton, Penn, and the policymaking landscape across the U.S. while growing the community of visionary donors to PPI.”

2015 | American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) | $15 million 
Trone’s donation has been aimed at expanding a campaign to cut prison populations and promote private initiatives to rehabilitate and employ ex-convicts. Trone cited Total Wine’s support of the “ban the box” movement — which seeks removal of the criminal-record check box from job applications — as a factor in his gift and an example of what private-sector partners can accomplish.

The donation was used to establish the Trone Center for Criminal Justice. His gift pays for traditional ACLU litigation and educational activities, and is used to boost state-level projects — including ones in the District, Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Indiana — where incarceration rates and the prospect of bipartisan cooperation are greatest. 

To learn more about David Trone and his giving, please visit DavidTrone.com and/or TotalWine.com.


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