OVERVIEW: Now into its third decade, the foundation of retired hedge fund manager Stanley Druckenmiller and his wife Fiona is a major operation, with around $1 billion in assets and tens of millions of dollars in annual giving. In addition to supporting specific schools, the foundation has also given on smaller but still significant levels to support students striving to get into and succeed in college.
IP TAKE: In terms of higher ed, Druckenmiller Foundation tends to make a small number of large gifts (often to schools with family connections) rather than to widely distribute its funds. Like a number of other low-profile givers, this funder has no website or clear grant application process.
PROFILE: Stanley Druckenmiller once had aspirations of being an English professor and received an undergraduate degree from Bowdoin College before moving into finance. Ultimately, Druckenmiller founded his own investment firm, Duquesne Capital Management, which he ran until he retired in 2010.
His retirement coincided with a huge uptick in his philanthropy, channeled through the Druckenmiller Foundation, which he runs with his wife Fiona, a Wall Street executive turned business owner. Founded in 1993, the foundation's recent tax filings show $1 billion in assets and giving in the neighborhood of $75 million per year.
Like many philanthropists, Druckenmiller’s largest gifts in higher education stem from ties with his family's alma maters. Aside from giving more than $40 million to his alma mater, Bowdoin, he’s given $17 million to Stanford, his daughter Hannah's school. Similarly, he gave $5 million to Brown University, which his daughter Tess attended. He’s also made smaller grants to Barnard, his wife’s alma mater, and the Central European University, which was founded by his long-time friend George Soros.
Another key area of interest for the Druckenmillers is medical research, and with the right program, universities certainly stand to earn significant funding dollars in this area. Ineed, Druckenmiller once said of his philanthropy: "I like putting all my eggs in one basket and then watching that basket carefully.” This certainly appears to have been his strategy with New York University’s Neuroscience Institute, which works “to improve brain health through impactful discoveries and the translation of those discoveries into better clinical care and public health,” and was founded in 2009 with a whopping $100 million gift from the foundation.
Aside from grants to traditional educational institutions, the couple appears to be passionate about preparing kids for college and supporting them once they get there. In recent years, the foundation has provided major funding to College Summit in Washington D.C., a nonprofit organization with a stated mission to increase youth college enrollment rates in low-income communities. The Druckenmiller Foundation also has a special "Oakmont Scholarship," offered exclusively to current or former caddies at Oakmont Country Club to help pay for their undergraduate educations.
In addition to Druckenmiller’s support for higher ed, the foundation is also a major supporter of K-12 education. The largest beneficiary by far in this area has been Harlem Children's Zone, a children's education and antipoverty outfit in Harlem (Druckenmiller himself chairs the organization). The couple has also given to education reform, fighting poverty and inequality, the occasional international K-12 outfit, and Spence School, a K-12 all girls private school of which Fiona and their children are alumnae.
With a net worth well into the billions, Druckenmiller has been moving funds through his foundation at a fast rate. This is someone to watch. Alas, the Druckenmiller Foundation has no website or apparent process by which an organization can apply for grants.
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