NET WORTH: Unknown
SOURCE OF WEALTH: IBM, The Carlyle Group
FUNDING AREAS: Biomedical Research, Education & Youth, Human Services
OVERVIEW: Louis Gerstner and family founded the Gerstner Family Foundation in 1989, which supports basic and translational biomedical research, access to excellent education for young people in grades K-12, and organizations that assist people who have suffered temporary setbacks and need a helping hand.
BACKGROUND: Louis V. Gerstner Jr. was born in 1942 in Mineola, New York. He received a bachelor's in engineering from Dartmouth College in 1963 and an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1965. Gerstner was a director of McKinsey & Co., Inc. and president of American Express Company. He served as chairman and CEO of RJR Nabisco, and later CEO and chairman of IBM Corporation. Gerstner also chaired Carlyle Group in Washington D.C.
BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH: One of the foundation’s three program areas is Biomedical Research. The foundation primarily focuses on “supporting talented scientists in the early stages of their careers." Gerstner Foundation Vice President Elizabeth Gerstner, a neuro-oncologist, plays an important role in this grantmaking area.
The Gerstner Family Foundation is a strong supporter of Broad Institute, which has received millions. Gerstner chairs the board of Broad Institute. Other grantees have included American Museum of Natural History, home of the Gerstner Scholars Program; Columbia University Medical Center; and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the site of the Gerstner Sloan Kettering School of Biomedical Sciences.
EDUCATION & YOUTH: The Gerstner Family Foundation’s Education program supports “students who have talent and determination but whose opportunity to excel is limited because of their economic circumstances.” The foundation has funded scholarships for students to attend Catholic schools. Gerstner also makes grants to college access programs and select after-school programs.
The Gerstner Family Foundation has been a steady backer of the Partnership for Inner City Education, primarily funding scholarships for students to attend Partnership schools. Other grantees have included Diocese of Palm Beach Schools, Harvard School of Education, and Teak Fellowship.
HUMAN SERVICES: The Gerstner Family Foundation’s Helping Hands program makes “grants to social service agencies, whose staff then applies strict criteria and distributes grants averaging approximately $1,000 each to clients who have suffered a temporary setback and need such financial assistance for a short period of time while they get back on their feet.”
Grantees have included Adopt-A-Family, Safe Horizon, and The Bridge Fund of New York. The majority of Helping Hands grants go toward rent.
LOOKING FORWARD: Expect the Gerstner family to continue to fund their select interest areas with a particular eye towards New York City, Boston, and Palm Beach County.