Philanthropy on King Street: These Two Hedge Funders Might Be Just Getting Started

Last year, Forbes announced several new hedge fund billionaires, including Christopher Hohn, whom I've written about before. Then there's the cofounding duo of King Street Capital Management, Brian Higgins and O. Francis Biondi Jr., each with a net worth around $1.2 billion. Both guys are 50, and met several decades ago while working at First Boston. In 1995, the pair cofounded King Street Capital Management, which holds more than $20 billion in assets under management. 

At one point, Biondi—apparently the more public of the two men—had a family foundation that he operated with his wife Jamie called the Jamie Nicholls & Fran Biondi Charitable Trust, though the current status of the foundation is unclear. We also stumbled upon the King Street Charitable Trust, a vehicle whose sole trustees are Higgins and Biondi.

Interesting.

It appears that these hedge funders aren't just partners in business, but on some level, partners in philanthropy, too. We've seen this before, most famously in the case where three hedge fund guys (including David Gelbaum) created one of the largestand most secretivephilanthropic operations in history. 

The difficult part about King Street Charitable Trust is that it has no website, or clear avenue for grant seekers (or anyone else) to get in touch. What is worth knowing is that the vehicle appears to be ramping up its giving. The trust was established in 2004, when under $300,000 went out of the door. That number has gradually increased over time, to around $2 million in 2009, more than $5 million in 2011, to nearly $10 million in 2013. That number may well be higher now. What's more, in 2013, the trust held nearly $100 million in assets.

Granted, these are still modest numbers compared to many donors we track, but if we've learned anything about hedge fund guys and philanthropy, it's this: These people almost always get richer over time, and their giving tends to keep rising. So it pays in cases like this to watch closely, with an eye on the future. 

King Street's recent philanthropy has involved quite a long trail of grantees, with grants ranging from $500 to more than $1 million. Outfits in New York feature prominently, but quite a few grants have gone to Virginia and Delaware (where Biondi is from), and elsewhere. Here are a few must knows about the philanthropy that Higgins and Biondi channel through King Street Charitable Trust:

1. Higgins and Biondi Are Strong Supporters of Their Alma Maters

Higgins' alma mater, Villanova University, has received a steady stream of support including at least $500,000 annually in the past three years available from tax records. Biondi's alma mater, Yale University, has also received support. Biondi's wife Jamie, meanwhile, went to Amherst College, which received $125,000 in 2013. Support has also recently gone to Columbia University and Princeton. As well, Biondi has supported Wilmington Friends School in Delaware, where he went to school.

2. The Hedge Funders Have Also Supported K-12 Education

The money isn't overwhelming so far, but recent support has gone to East Harlem School, Harlem Village Academies, the Inner-City Scholarship Fund, and Turnaround for Children, a nonprofit that partners with public schools to address the obstacles to teaching and learning that stem from poverty. In addition, besides Wilmington Friends, money has also gone to Riverdale Country School in the Bronx, the Chapin School in Manhattan, and St Anne's-Belfield School in Charlottesville, Virginia. It's worth noting that King Street Capital has a Charlottesville location.

3. Harlem Children's Zone Is a Big Winner So Far

Higgins sits on the board of Harlem Children's Zone, a Harlem-based outfit that supports at-risk youth and their families. Around $2 million annually has gone out the door towards Harlem Children's Zone of late. Support has also gone to the Robin Hood Foundation, which fights poverty in New York, Domestic Shelters and Services, and several different boys and girls clubs. 

4. Higgins and Biondi Are Also Interested in Cancer Research

More than $1.2 million went to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in 2013, where Jamie sits on the board. Support has also gone to New York Presbyterian Hospital (more than $5 million alone in 2013), with support also going to St. Judes Children's Research Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation, NYU Langone Medical Center, Melanoma Research Alliance, Mt. Sinai, the American Cancer Society, and the North Shore - LIJ Health System. Meanwhile, $1.46 million went to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in 2013, an outfit that  researches cancer, neuroscience, plant biology and more. Jamie has chaired the board of trustees at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory since 2010.

5. New York City Is a Priority of the Foundation

King Street has supported outfits such as the 92nd Street Y, the Ronald McDonald House of New York City, Boys Hope Girls Hope NY, New York City Police Foundation, New York City Ballet, New York Historical Society, and more.

The important thing to remember in all of this is that Higgins and Biondi are still quite young (they're both only 50). But the cofounding duo of King Street Capital Management should be watched for greater giving down the line.

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