Druckenmiller Foundation: Grants for K-12 Education

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. Education is among the couple's top interests.  

IP TAKE: While this funder's main K-12 commitment has been to the Harlem Children's Zone, money flows to other education groups, too, and the foundation has ramped up its giving in recent years. Unfortunately, the foundation 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. 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. 

A substantial amount of that money went to education causes. The largest K-12 beneficiary by far in in recent years is Harlem Children's Zone, a children's education and antipoverty outfit in Harlem, New York. Druckenmiller chairs the organization, having been successfully courted by fellow Bowdoin alumnus and friend Geoffrey Canada. Canada came to Druckenmiller to help fund his project, and Druckenmiller agreed, provided he was allowed to build the board.

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 be his strategy when it comes to Harlem Children's Zone. The funds Druckenmillher has provided to Harlem Children's Zone total well over $100 million, and in one recent year alone, the foundation awarded HCZ a whopping $30 million. 

Yet the Druckenmillers have put smaller eggs in other baskets, too, and the couple appears to be passionate about preparing kids for college and supporting them once they get there. In recent years, several million dollars have gone 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.

Druckenmiller clearly has an interest in education reform and fighting poverty and inequality. The couple has been a past funder of Teach for America, providing $100,000 annually in two recent years. Smaller sums have gone to Harlem Village Academies, Storefront Academy, Prep for Prep, Children’s Scholarship Fund, and Success Academy Charter Schools. In addition, a rare international donation recently went to Reaching U, a nonprofit focused on providing educational opportunities to children living in poverty in Uruguay. 

Closer to home, the couple also has deep ties to Spence School, a K-12 all girls private school that received more than $10 million over the course of two recent years. Fiona Druckenmiller is an alumna of the school, as are the Druckenmillers' kids, and Fiona served as a trustee at Spence for many years. The Robin Hood Foundation has also been a recipient of significant funding (Robin Hood cofounder Paul Tudor Jones and Druckenmiller have been friends for years). 

Beyond Druckenmiller's support for K-12 causes, the foundation's philanthropic arm has also extended high-level funding to a diversity of recipients that have recently included a number of universities (among them, not surprisingly, Druckenmiller's alma mater Bowdoin) as well as environmental, medical, journalism, and animal welfare organizations.  

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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