Barakett Brothers: How Two Canadian-Born Hedge Funders Do Their Philanthropy

Harvard university. photo: Marcio Jose Bastos Silva/shutterstock

Harvard university. photo: Marcio Jose Bastos Silva/shutterstock

Tim Barakett's Atticus Capital in New York City was once one of the largest hedge funds in the world, with assets under management over $20 billion in the late aughts. Then there's Brett Barakett's Tremblant Capital Group, with offices in New York and Greenwich. The Canadian-born Tim and Brett are brothers—Tim the elder—and last decade, both Wall Streeters, along with their spouses, established family foundations, directing funds to causes like education, health, and more.

Here's a quick rundown of what the Barakett brothers are into.

The Families are Strongly Interested in Education

First-generation college students often have a particular gratitude for the schools they attended. For Tim Barakett, that's Harvard, where he got his bachelor's degree and his MBA. Tim made his first donation to Harvard all the back in 1997, and more recently, along with his wife Michele, gave a $25 million gift to the school. Much of this work has focused on financial aid and scholarships. Tim was also drafted by the New Jersey Devils of the NHL and played for Team Canada; he's earmarked at least $1 million for Harvard's hockey program.

Tim and Michele Barakett move their giving through the Timothy and Michele Barakett Foundation, which gave away around $10 million in a recent year. Other Barakett Foundation grantees include Dalton School, where Tim is a trustee, the School of American Ballet and the Episcopal School.

Brett Barakett and his wife Meaghan, meanwhile, move their philanthropy through the Brett Barakett Foundation. Brett supports his alma maters Ivey Business School in Canada and Harvard Business School. Meaghan, a former Miss New York USA, went on to launch One Girl, a national and international women's organization that develops "its members into social conscious change agents through leadership training, community service, and transformative work using yoga and meditation techniques." 

Meaghan works as executive director of One Girl, which the couple supports. Brett has been involved as a hockey coach, and the couple funds organizations like USA Hockey Foundation, as well as places like Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich and NYU.

Health is Another Interest

Add Tim and Michele Barakett to the list of wealthy couples who've pumped quite a bit of money into allergy research after witnessing the havoc this health problem can cause firsthand. (This writer can unfortunately corroborate). 

The Baraketts have a daughter with a peanut allergy and have directed seven-figure sums to the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health, and have supported the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research at Stanford University. Some of the work the Baraketts support at the Parker Center focuses on underserved communities that are hit especially hard, not just by asthma, but also food allergies. A study by Dr. Ruchi Gupta, for instance, found that very low-income families with food allergies were likely to spend spend 2.5 times more on emergency care and hospitalizations than those at higher incomes.

Related: Giving for Food Allergies is Anything But Peanuts Thanks to Donors Like David Koch

Tim recalls a few occasions when his daughter accidentally consumed small amounts of peanuts. Now, thanks to desensitizing immunotherapy, he and his family are much less anxious knowing that she will not have an allergic reaction if she eats a few peanuts. As Tim puts it, “We strongly support the work that Dr. Nadeau (head of the Parker Center) is doing, and would like all families to have access to the kind of care we received. Immunotherapy has made a big difference to our lives and enabled us to lead normal lives without fear of an allergic reaction.”

The couple has directed smaller sums to other health organizations, and Brett and Meaghan have also shown an interest in the health space.

The Families Have Other Interests, Too

Tim and Michele have backed Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, as well as places like Amazon Watch, Freedom to Marry and the Robin Hood Foundation. 

Overall, it's important to note here that the Barakett brothers are only in their early 50s, and have already been engaged in philanthropy for a while. These days, Tim Barakett manages his family's money through TRB Advisors, freeing up bandwidth for other interests like philanthropy. Brett is still very active with Tremblant. The would-be hockey players turned finance stars should be watched carefully in the coming years.