Meet the Private Equity Guy Set to Give At Least $1 Billion in Washington D.C.

The trio behind the Carlyle Group, the Washington D.C. private equity firm, sure does keep busy. We recently wrote about Carlyle cofounder and chair Daniel D'Aniello before, and the millions that he's given to the conservative think tank, American Enterprise Institute, as well as other causes. 

Related: Donor Dossier: The Philanthropy of Carlyle Cofounder Daniel A. D'Aniello

We've also written about David Rubenstein, and how he's into education and historic preservation, pumping money into restoring national monuments and boosting the Smithsonian.  

Then there's William Conway, Jr., who's made a splash of his own in recent years by announcing that he planned on giving way at least $1 billion to help the Washington D.C. region, though he was unsure at first where exactly that money would go. In order to get some ideas, he initially sought the help of the public via a Post article titled "Where to donate $1 billion? Local philanthropist seeks ideas" and encouraged folks to email him at Carlyle. He reviewed over 2,500 suggestions, as he started to develop a plan.

We don't see that every day. More often, these billionaire finance donors turns to friends and consultants for adviceyou know, other people as smart as they are. Or, if we're really being honest here, they just hand the checkbook over to their wives so they can stay focused on what really turns them on: making money. 

Speaking of spouses, Conway and his wife Joanne have long been giving through their Bedford Falls Foundation, which has been around since 1997, so Conway's hardly wet behind the ears when it comes to philanthropy. 

In any case, according to the Washington Post, only one grant actually came from Conway's public call, as the executive director at Community of Hope successfully pitched Conway on giving $70,000 toward a pilot program to train new medical receptionists and medical assistants. The following year, Community of Hope received a $1.75 million pledge from the Bedford Falls Foundation. Not bad at all.

Apart from Community of Hope, Conway's been plenty busy since his first announcement. He's since given away at least $55 million in scholarships and tuition assistance for nursing students attending D.C. area schools such as LAYC Career Academy, Trinity Washington, and Georgetown. A gift of $5 million recently went to University of Virginia School of Nursing to provide needs-based scholarships for students in the Clinical Nurse Leader program as well as faculty support.

And wouldn't you know it: Conway credits Joanne for bringing nursing onto his radar. And he was impressed with the nurses who cared for his parents before they passed.

Another philanthropic priority has been helping low-income people through education and human services. At least $10 million has gone to Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Washington, and at least $10 million has gone to Catholic charities. Conway is Catholic.

At least $5 million has gone to the Center for Employment Training at SOME (So Others Might Eat). Conway has also been a steady funder of Capital Area Food Bank.

Assuming Conway makes good on his $1 billion announcement, there's plenty more money left to be given away. The Bedford Falls Foundation, however, doesn't appear to have a website. It's also worth noting that unlike his business partner D'Aniello, Conway doesn't seem deep into public policy.

One last point: We're seeing a growing number of billionaires who are focusing on improving a single city: Marc Benioff in San Francisco, George Kaiser in Tulsa, Richard Kinder in Houston, Paul Allen in Seattle, and so on. It's a trend worth watching closely because, among other things, these new super-citizens are putting themselves in positions of enormous power at the local level. 

Down the line, when Conway's spigot is really flowing, who'll matter more in Washington: Conway or the mayor? 

Related: William Conway Jr. Profile