Joan B. Kroc, was a philanthropist and peace activist. Her donations created the University of San Diego Institute for Peace and Justice, Notre Dame Institute for International Peace Studies, San Diego Hospice facility, Ronald McDonald House Charities (children), and the Salvation Army’s 12-acre community center. She left endowments to National Public Radio and local KPBS. She worked tirelessly with grassroots leaders and cultivated relationships with political, academic, and civic leaders across the nation. She was a role model as a successful businesswoman with social consciousness. Kroc's first philanthropic endeavor was an alcoholism educational program in La Jolla.
From there she founded Ronald McDonald House Charities to improve the health and well being of children world wide. Kroc's donations to further peace created Notre Dame's Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies (1986) and the University of San Diego's Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice (2001). She opened and continued to make gifts to the St. Vincent de Paul Joan Brock Center for the Homeless in downtown San Diego. Finally, upon her death, she left generous donations to National Public Radio and the San Diego affiliate KPBS, ensuring quality independent journalism about the issues she cared about most.