OVERVIEW: The foundation of Alan Fournier and his wife Jennifer mostly makes grants in the New Jersey area, but it also gives awards in New York and (to a lesser extent) other regions throughout the U.S. Its education funding has mostly gone a select group of charter schools, networks, teacher training programs like Teach for America, and advocacy groups.
IP TAKE: Fournier, along with fellow hedge fund manager David Tepper, has historically been an active and engaged ed funder, but the foundation has no website or clear application guidelines and he’s been making fewer waves as of late.
PROFILE: Alan Fournier began his investment career at Sanford C. Bernstein, where he made partner in just two years. From 1996 to 2000, he was in charge of global equity investments at Appaloosa Management, and in 2001, Fournier formed his own hedge fund, Pennant Capital Management.
The Fournier Family Foundation was founded in 2004 in New Jersey and is run by Fournier and his wife Jennifer. Education is by far the couple's biggest cause. The couple's giving has been ramping up in recent years, jumping from about $500,000 in 2010 to more than $3.5 million in one recent year alone.
With that said, information about the couple’s giving in the most recent years has been fewer and further between, so the direction of the foundation’s giving is currently a little less clear.
In higher ed, Fournier's alma mater, the Wentworth Institute of Technology, has received millions of dollars in support. Jennifer's alma mater, the University of Florida (and its associated foundation), has also received high-level funding from the couple. On a much more modest level, the foundation also recently lent its support to a robotics competition run through the University of Maine.
Charters have been a high priority for the Fourniers. Alan is on the board of trustees of KIPP New Jersey, which runs TEAM Schools, a network of five charter schools in Newark that he has supported heavily. Teach for America has also been a major recipient - particularly its New York and New Jersey branches. More modest sums (generally under $100,000) have also gone to New York and New Jersey organizations such as KIPP New York, NJ SEEDS (where Jennifer has volunteered and which honored the couple at its annual benefit in 2013), Platinum Minds (a leadership development organization), Prep for Prep, Stand for Children, Newmark School (a school for youth with special needs, and the Harlem Children's Zone.
Fournier is also an education reform advocate, and has worked with fellow hedge fund manager David Tepper to bankroll a political action committee called Better Education for Kids to advance education reform efforts in New Jersey. Better Education for Kids has backed candidates across the state running for school board, city council and mayoral seats. It also pushed for the 2012 New Jersey TEACHNJ law, which made it harder for teachers to get tenure and keep it, and tied teacher ratings partly to test scores. Separately, Fournier and Tepper recently put up $3 million for a principal training program in the Jersey City Public Schools.
The Fournier Foundation maintains a fairly low profile - no website or clear guidelines for applying for fundings. But with a demonstrated commitment to education issues and reform efforts, the Fourniers are a couple that should be watched.
- Search for staff contact info and bios in PeopleFinder (paid subscribers only.)
Fournier Family Foundation
C/O Pennant Capital Management LLC
One Deforrest Ave. No. 200
Summit, NJ 07901