NET WORTH: Unknown
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Goldman Sachs; Perella Weinberg Partners
FUNDING AREAS: Education & Youth, New York City, Policy, Arts & Culture, Health, Human Services
OVERVIEW: Robert Steel and his wife, Gillian, move their philanthropy through the Robert K. Steel Family Foundation. The Steels support education and youth, New York City, policy, arts and culture, health and human services. Much of their philanthropic work is directed toward organizations in New York City and Connecticut.
BACKGROUND: A native of North Carolina, Robert K. Steel graduated from Duke University and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. He began his career in the Chicago offices of Goldman Sachs, eventually moving to the New York headquarters. In his three-decades at Goldman, he rose to head the global equities division and eventually became a partner. Steel has served as New York City’s Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and is currently the CEO of Perella Weinberg Partners.
EDUCATION & YOUTH: The Steels have supported Robert’s alma mater Duke University with donations of more than $10 million over the past several years. Other past higher education grantees include Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and Columbia College in South Carolina. The couple has supported private schools including Chase Collegiate School, the Windward School, and Riverdale Country School, where their daughter once worked. Gillian Steel is the vice chair of the board of directors of City Squash, a program that aims to help “New York City youth to fulfill their academic, athletic and personal potential through the squash racket game. Other past grantees include the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich, Teach for America and Right to Play, which aims to "improve the lives of children in the most disadvantaged areas of the world by using the power of sport and play for development, health and peace."
NEW YORK CITY: The Steels have supported several New York City organizations in the areas of conservancy and transportation. The couple has supported the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, the Battery Conservancy, New Yorkers for Parks, the Central Park Conservancy, Regional Plan Association, which "improves the New York metropolitan region's economic health, environmental sustainability and quality of life through research.” In the area of transportation, they have funded Transportation Alternatives, whose mission is to "reclaim New York City's streets from the automobile and to promote bicycling, walking and public transit." Gillian Steel also serves on the board of directors of the New York Botanical Gardens.
POLICY: Robert Steel is the chair of the board of trustees of the Aspen Institute, a nonpartisan organization that aims to “address some of the world’s most complex problems.” Other past grantees include the Partnership for Public Service, the National Democratic Institute and conservative organizations such as the American Enterprise Institute and the Manhattan Institute.
ARTS & CULTURE: The Steels past arts and culture grantees include the Bruce Museum, the Municipal Art Society of New York, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Frick Collection, and the South Street Seaport Museum.
HEALTH: The Steels’ health funding has prioritized cancer research and care. Past grantees in this area include the Breast Cancer Alliance, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the Lymphoma Research Foundation, the Melanoma Research Foundation and the Duke Cancer Institute. Other past grantees include New York City’s Hospital for Special Surgery and Greenwich Hospital in Connecticut.
HUMAN SERVICES: Past grantees in this area include the Connecticut Food Bank, the United Way of New York City, Citymeals-on-Wheels, the Salvation Army and Fountain House, a New York City organization that supports individuals living with mental illness.
LOOKING FORWARD: The Steels’ philanthropy is likely to continue its prioritization of organizations operating in New York City and Connecticut.
The Robert K. Steel Family Foundation does not provide a clear avenue of contact, but an address is provided:
The Robert K. Steel Family Foundation
77 Water St., 9th Fl.
New York City, NY 10005