David Einhorn

NET WORTH:  $1.52 billion

SOURCE OF WEALTH: Greenlight Capital

FUNDING AREAS: Parenting and Early Childhood, K-12 Education, Campus and Community, as well as other causes of personal interest

OVERVIEW: A young philanthropist by Wall Street standards, Einhorn is nonetheless very active on a variety of causes.  In addition to sitting on the boards of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, City Year, Cornell University, and the Robin Hood Foundation, he is also a major supporter of a number of Jewish organizations, health organizations, and organizations that seek to develop empathy, civility, and compassion.

BACKGROUND: David Einhorn was born to a Jewish family in New Jersey, moved to Wisconsin when he was seven, and received his bachelor’s in Government from Cornell University in 1991. Five years after graduating, he started Greenlight Capital with just under a million dollars, half of which he borrowed from his parents, who are also in the financial industry. The hedge fund now has $10 billion in assets under its management, and has performed well on the strength of short-selling positions in Lehman Brothers and Allied Capital, making Einhorn one of Wall Street’s younger billionaires. Einhorn is also an avid poker player, and has cashed in at a couple major events, usually donating his winnings to charity, and was one of the first Master Players for Portfolios with Purpose, a charity stock-picking contest.

ISSUES:

HEALTH: As a board member of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, Einhorn has donated at least $1.8 million through his charitable trust, about a third of which was a result of his 18th place finish in the 2006 World Series of Poker. He’s also donated nearly $5 million to the Mount Sinai Medical Center, $2 million to the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, at least $3 million to the Tomorrows Children’s Fund, which finances research and treatment of childhood cancers. The Einhorns have also supported Basic Health International, originally affiliated with Mt. Sinai Medical Center, which received a grant of just under $700,000 in 2012. And then there’s the Nurture Science Program (formerly Brain Gut Initiative) at Columbia University, where the Einhorn family made annual donations between 2007 and 2011 totaling somewhere around $6.2 million.  

On the smaller side, Einhorn has made several donations of approximately $50,000 to the Glaucoma Foundation, and similar grants to the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation, and Chai Lifeline, a Jewish organization that provides services for kids with severe illnesses.

EDUCATION: Einhorn is a proponent of education reform, having donated $300,000 to the organization Education Reform Now. He’s also made donations to his alma mater Cornell, the University of Wisconsin, multiple Jewish schools and educational organizations in New York, Prep for Prep, Hackley School and the Success Charter Network. In the interest of furthering certain educational areas, he’s also supported organizations such as Math for America and the National Association for Urban Debate League.

Many of Einhorn’s contributions to education focus on teaching empathy, understanding, conflict resolution, and other skills necessary to build a more peaceful and just society. He’s a major supporter of Ashoka’s Empathy Initiative, having given approximately $1.2 million to the cause. He’s also made significant contributions to organizations such as Roots of Empathy in Canada, and Not in Our Town, which brings communities together to stop hate, and has funded research into empathy and developmental and behavioral disorders through Columbia.

Einhorn also recognizes the power of the media to educate, and has given grants to several production companies for projects educating the public on a variety of social issues. One major donation in this area was to The Bully Project, and others have gone to groups such as the Working Group and Participant Media.

Einhorn recently pledged $50 million to Cornell over ten years. The gift’s focus is on public engagement and community-engaged learning for undergraduate students.

COMMUNITY BUILDING: In addition to being a major supporter of the Jewish community, Einhorn also supports more general community development organizations. Some of the big ones are national in scope, such as City Year, which received $1 million in 2010, and $4.3 million from his third place finish in the 2012 World Series of Poker $1 million buy-in tournament, or DoSomething, which received a $250,000 grant in 2011 to help engages kids and teens in a variety of causes. One of his more recent partners, Public Allies, operates 23 sites across the country.

On a more local level, the most obvious is the Robin Hood Foundation, New York’s marquee poverty fighting organization, where Einhorn is Chair. At the end of 2011, his contributions stood at just under $10 million, and with gifts of $3.6 million that year and the year before, may well have eclipsed $15 million by now. His community giving extends beyond New York though, supporting organizations such as Interfaith Youth Core, which operates in the Greater Chicago area, and organizations in Wisconsin that focus on financial education, job training, youth development, and community service.

JEWISH COMMUNITY: Einhorn’s giving in the Jewish Community mostly goes to three major groups: Birthright Israel, which sends young Jewish people on trips to Israel; Repair the World, an organization that engages particularly young Jewish people in building their communities; and Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life. Each of these groups has received approximately $2 million. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t make smaller grants as well though; a couple dozen Jewish groups in New York have also received funding over the years, including the Union for Reform Judaism, the Center for Jewish History, the Jewish Museum, and the UJA Federation of New York.

GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY: When Greenlight Capital made a killing taking a short position on Allied Capital in 2006, all the general partners donated their $6 million in profits to three organizations, two of which were The Project on Government Oversight, and the Center for Public Integrity. 

ARTS & CULTURE: Einhorn isn’t a major contributor in this area; his few donations to arts and culture organizations are rather small compared to his gifts in areas such as health and education, and tend to go to Jewish cultural organizations, but he has given over $100,000 to the New York City Opera over the years, a couple of grants to the Gotham Chamber Opera, and $100,000 to the Milwaukee Ballet Company near his childhood home. 

LOOKING FORWARD: Looking at Einhorn’s most recent giving, it wouldn’t be a stretch to see him move toward more multicultural efforts, or international aid, particularly for kids. He’s also been critical of investment banking practices, saying they are biased to maximize employee compensation, citing a statistic that investment banks pay out as much as 50 percent of revenues as compensation; higher leverage means more revenues, making this model inherently risky, so perhaps we could see a move toward more activism on these types of policy issues.

CONTACT:

Einhorn Family Charitable Trust

140 East 45th Street, Floor 24

New York, NY 10017

(212) 784-3090

info@efct.org

LINKS:

Einhorn Family Charitable Trust

Robin Hood Foundation

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