Why This Alumnus Doubled Down on International Students at Dartmouth

We've written about Silicon Valley investor Bob King and his wife Dottie before. The couple founded the Thrive Foundation for Youth, which focuses on helping young people during critical years of development. The Kings are also interested in helping the international community. A few years ago, the couple gave some $150 million to establish the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies, which aims to alleviate poverty in developing countries through entrepreneurship. King, by the way, received his M.B.A. from Stanford. Meanwhile, at King's undergraduate alma mater, Dartmouth, a 2013 gift established the King Scholar Leadership Program, which provides scholarships to students from developing nations.

Now, Dartmouth College has announced a $21 million gift from the Kings to continue supporting the scholarship program. That brings the Kings' investment in this program to more than $35 million. So far, King Scholars from Burkina Faso, Jamaica, Kenya, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe have matriculated at Dartmouth.

The $21 million gift will be used to increase the number of King Scholars over the next few years and will also create an annual King Leadership Week in either New York or Washington D.C., to expose scholars to "leading international development organizations, private-sector firms, and government agencies."

Clearly, the Kings are happy with how their money has been spent, and the kind of doubling down we're seeing here isn't surprising. It's also worth noting how these additional gifts often refine or deepen an earlier effort.

However, one question you might ask is what got the Kings interested in this area in the first place? After all, one might assume that the most obvious donors in this space would be foreign-born alumni who had a unique set of challenges as international students, and would want to give back to students experiencing the same thing.

Related: Why Foreign-Born Alumni Will be a Growing Gold Mine for Colleges 

Well, in the case of the Kings, the couple has been hosting Stanford international students for more than 40 years. Dottie talks about how that affected their huge gift to Stanford, saying that "we heard how those experiences compelled some of the M.B.A.s to return for internships in Africa. We saw the direct connection between the learning experience and the motivation to make change."

King has also served on the board of Village Enterprise Fund, an outfit that works in such places Kenya and Uganda. Supporting youth is also in line with Thrive's mission. For instance, Thrive has worked with World Vision USA, which has a program that "builds the capacity of faith-based community organizations to successfully grow leadership and critical-thinking skills of youth living in distressed communities." The leadership component here is reminiscent of the King leadership program.

In other words, the kind of work the Kings are doing at Dartmouth shouldn't just be seen from a higher education perspective, but as part of the Kings' larger philanthropic vision. That vision includes a lot of global development philanthropy, which, of course, involves not just big names like Gates and Ford, but scores of other funders operating at every level.