OVERVIEW: The Dalio Foundation does much of its giving in the northeast, especially in Connecticut where the foundation is located, and in New York City.
FUNDING AREAS: Education, health, environment, and the arts.
IP TAKE: The foundation's assets have been growing and it's been a steady funder in multiple areas for years. Dalio and his wife Barbara are signatories of the Giving Pledge, so one way or another, a lot more money is going to be doled out in the future.
PROFILE: Queens, New York native Ray Dalio describes himself as a mediocre student growing up. It wasn't until he took up meditation that he really found balance in his life. Now he runs one of the most successful hedge funds in the country, Bridgewater Associates, and has been worth more than $15 million.
The interesting thing about Dalio is that he wears his giving philosophies on his sleeve. Meditation and general mental health is one of Dalio's chief interests, but he and his wife give to a wide range of organizations working in many areas.
Founded in 2003, the Dalio Foundation (formerly known as the Dalio Family Foundation) held more than $840 million in assets at the end of a past and gave away around nearly $119 million in then. The following year saw a drop in assets, down to $805 million, and less total giving, down to around $115 million.
The foundation is very active in the New York City area, making grants to colleges and universities, charter schools, medical centers, cultural institutions and conservation organizations.
One of the biggest winners here is education. The couple's Giving Pledge letter mentions that Barbara “gives particular attention to trying to help inner city education." This seems to be behind the foundation's strong support of organizations such as Achievement First, a charter school network in New York, has received at least $1 million annually in recent years. Teach for America has also received similar amounts.
Apart from these two organizations, the foundation has given to Bronx Success Academy Charter School, Harlem Children's Zone, Harlem School of the Arts, and New Visions Public Schools. Harlem Children' s Zone received a grant to support a music education partnership with Jazz at Lincoln Center.
The Dalio Foundation has also supported a number of different higher education institutions in New York. NYU's Tisch School of the Arts has received at least $4.5 million, much of it to endow the Dalio Talent Identification Fund for film students. Dalio, in fact, is a member of the Tisch School of the Arts Dean's Council and has a track record of supporting New York University. In recent years, the foundation has also supported Cooper Union and New York Cornell Medical Center.
In a past year, $3 million went to the Robin Hood Foundation towards supporting programming between that outfit and Grameen America. Ray, Barbara and other family members support a wide range of interests, including social enterprises, medical research with a special focus on the heart and mind, brain science, meditation, and music heritage with an emphasis on jazz and blues.
Dalio has also been a solid arts and music funder in the city. It's an interest that seems specific to New York City; in other regions, we don't find a similar grantmaking path. He's given to prominent museums such as the Met, MoMA, and the American Museum of Natural History, but he's also supported more niche outfits like Ballet Hispanico of New York and a festival in Brooklyn called El Puente de Williamsburg.
Dalio is passionate about meditation and gives large sums of money annually to the David Lynch Foundation in Iowa. The foundation's grantmaking in the mental health arena is a bit more mainstream in New York City, where money has been given to Alzheimer's Drug Discovery and the New York Center for Autism. The foundation has also been a supporter of New York Presbyterian Hospital and gave $30 million to support projects and research across the New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System.
Dalio also might be moving into public policy. A large $10 million grant went to Volcker Alliance, a recently created New York based outfit dedicated to "rekindle intellectual, practical, and academic interest in the implementation of policy and serve as a catalyst for sustained government improvement." The Volcker Alliance was launched in 2013 by former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Paul A. Volcker. Volcker has given Dalio and Bridgewater high praise in the past, and according to an Economist article, claimed that Dalio "has a bigger staff, and produces more relevant statistics and analyses, than the Federal Reserve.”
Finally, the foundation has supported Central Park Conservancy and the ASPCA, and Ray Dalio has a keen interest in all things wild, suggesting an opening for other New York outfits that do work that relates to either nature or animals.
The important thing to remember is that New York City is one of many spaces where the Dalio Foundation doles out grants. The other important thing to remember is that this is still a family foundation with no clear grantmaking guidelines. So while it moves a lot of money annually to many organizations, how to actually get one's foot in this story is unclear.
- Ray Dalio, President & Director
- Matthew Dalio, VP & Director
- Devon Dalio, VP & Director
- Barbara Dalio, Director
- Janine Racanelli, Executive Director
- Mary Beth Powers, Vice President, Programs
1 Glendinning Pl.
Westport, CT 06880