Hedge fund billionaire Paul Tudor Jones founded the Robin Hood Foundation in 1988 well before either of his two own personal foundations were established. When the Tudor Foundation started giving out grants ten years later, fighting poverty in New York City was, unsurprisingly, a top priority.
But Jones has also been long been involved in charter schools. Jones founded and was the first chair of the Excellence Charter School in Brooklyn. He also founded and chaired the Bedford Stuyvesant I Have A Dream Foundation, which helps low-incomes kids get to college.
While the Tudor Foundation doesn't stand out as a huge supporter of charter schools, compared to many funders we look at, it gives steadily in this area, and Jones is clearly passionate about the potential of these schools.
The foundation gives out less than $5 million annually and some of its largest sums in recent years have gone to KIPP New York ($100,000 in 2012 and $50,000 the year prior). Current president of the Tudor Foundation, Andrew S. Paul, sits on the board of Bronx Preparatory Charter School, which received $90,000 between 2012 and 2013. Other outfits receiving money in recent years include George Jackson Academy in the East Village and a number of different scholarship organizations such as the Teak Fellowship, the Posse Foundation and Oliver Scholars Program.
The Tudor Foundation is also active in Connecticut, where Jones and his wife Sonia live. The Boys and Girls Clubs of Greenwich and New Rochelle have received annual sums under $100,000 recently. Consistent with Jones' passion for fighting poverty, Domus Kids, which runs both residential and educational programs for youth, and was the recipient of a $105,000 gift from Tudor in 2013. Kids in Crisis, Inc, in the foundation's neck of the woods in Cos Cob, Connecticut, has received around $5,000 each year for the last couple of years.
Ultimately, Jones' direct giving for education isn't the best indicator of his influence in this sector. Through the Robin Hood Foundation, Jones helps shape the giving of one of the largest philanthropic players in New York, and one that has long supported charter schools. In recent years, Jones has pushed Robin Hood to become even more involved in education issues, including by taking on a bigger advocacy role to shift the policies that govern New York City's public school system.
In a rare interview with Forbes in late 2013, Jones described his strategy and thinking. Jones said about Robin Hood's charter school funding:
It’s important that we did those things, and we will continue to support them. We proved with the charter school that the achievement gap was a myth, that with the right schools, kids from the poorest neighborhoods could do every bit as well as kids from the richest ones. But what I realized is that we weren’t having enough of an impact. The afterschool programs were Band-Aids. The charter schools were demonstration pieces. We needed to fix something that was completely broken: the public school system.
Jones shares other strong opinions in that article, which is required reading for any ed group thinking about pitching this funder.