Robert Rosenkranz Philanthropy: Where's His Money Been Going?

Robert Rosenkranz is the chairman and CEO of Delphi Financial Group, an insurance company with some $10 billion in assets. He's been engaged in philanthropy for decades, founding the Rosenkranz Foundation in 1985, which these days gives between $1 and $2 million annually. The foundation states that its mission is to "encourage the highest levels of achievement and innovation in public policy, higher education and the arts." Unfortunately this funder doesn't accept unsolicited proposals, but Rosenkranz runs a very interesting operation which is worth digging into.

1. Rosenkranz is a Strong Supporter of Conservative Policy Work

Rosenkranz is yet another trustee of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research from the financial world. Not only does Rosenkranz sit on the board of the institute, but his two kids are heavily involved in conservative policy issues as well. Rosenkranz's daugher, Stephanie, is an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and her work has been featured in the National Review, the Washington Examiner, and on Fox News. Rosenkranz's son, Nicholas, meanwhile, is a professor of law at Georgetown, a senior fellow in Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute, and a co-chair of the Board of Visitors of the Federalist Society. Given all of the ingredients involved here, it's no surprise that Rosenkranz has also funded another think tank, the American Enterprise Institute. 

That said, Rosenkranz's most prominent effort in the area of public affairs is non-partisan in natureIntelligence Squared U.S., a debate series based on a successful London-based program. Created in 2006, Intelligence Squared U.S. has presented over 100 debates on a wide range of topics from clean energy to the Middle East and is broadcast on over 220 NPR radio stations. The Rosenkranz Foundation also created an initiative called the Translation Project, which starts with assumption that "the 'war on terror' is a war of ideas." The initiative has supported the Cato Institute's Lamp of Liberty whose aim is to translate the works of Adam Smith, Voltaire, and others, into Arabic.

2. Rosenkranz's Alma Mater Yale is a Big Winner

Rosenkranz graduated from Yale, as did Nicholas. Yale is the site of the Rosenkranz Writer-In-Residence, which brings prominent authors, critics, playwrights, journalists, screenwriters, essayists and social commentators to the school. Rosenkranz has also started the Yale Quantitative Reasoning & Science Education Project and is funding the creation of 20 new courses. In addition, Rosenkranz a member of the Yale School of Architecture Dean’s Council, and helped establish the Robert A.M. Stern Charitable Visting Professorship in Classical Architecture. 

Apart from Yale, modest sums for education have gone to Prep for Prep and to New York Law School.

3. Alexandra is Key in the Foundation's Arts Philanthropy

Rosenkranz's wife, Alexandra, is prominent in the arts world, and has a deep interest in Asian art. Raised in Japan, and also bearing Chinese and Japanese names, Alexandra received her B.A. in Japanese Language and Culture from Sophia University Tokyo. She's the former vice president of Japan Society, New York, and former director of its museum. Alexandra is currently senior curator of Asian art at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and has led the museum’s Asian Art Initiative since 2006.

Got all that?

Not surprisingly, art, and particularly Asian art, is a key focus of the couple's philanthropy. Solomon Guggenheim Foundation has been recently supported, as well as the Parrish Art Museum, the Met, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, among others. The couple has provided funding for a series of fully-illustrated books called The Culture & Civilization of China published by the Yale University Press, and has donated a group of modern Chinese paintings to the Harvard University Art Museums.

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It's worth noting the other staff involved with the Rosenkranz Foundation. Executive Director S. Dana Wolfe, is a five-time Emmy Award-winning journalist who spent over a decade as a producer for Ted Koppel’s Nightline on ABC News. These days, she still wears her producorial hat as Executive Producer of the Intelligence Squared U.S. debate series.

As well, Rosenkranz's son, Nicholas, who graduated from Phillips Academy, established the Rosenkranz Shakespeare Fund at the school, which supports at least one major theatrical production each year. Nicholas, in addition to being a constitutional law professor at Georgetown, and engaged in policy work, also produces Broadway plays in his spare time. Interesting family, right? 

We'll end our discussion of this funder with a quote Rosenkranz provided Bridgespan: "We have a very vital cultural and intellectual life in this country and I think that’s in part because it is privately funded. [Philanthropy] doesn’t have to be politically correct. It’s okay if people get offended, because that’s the nature of private risk-taking decision-making. And I think it’s a part of American vitality."

Related: Robert Rosenkranz Profile