Robert and Gillian Steel

NET WORTH: Unknown

SOURCE OF WEALTH: Goldman Sachs; Perella Weinberg Partners

FUNDING AREAS: Education & Youth, NYC Community, Policy, Arts & Culture, Health, Human Services

OVERVIEW: Robert Steel, his wife Gillian, and family move their philanthropy through the Robert K. Steel Family Foundation. The family's philanthropy has an east coast focus, where Steel and Gillian hold several prominent board memberships. The couple has heavily supported Steel's alma mater Duke. Another interest area is policy. The family has also supported youth outfits, particularly those that involve youth sports.

BACKGROUND: A native of Durham, North Carolina, Robert K. Steel graduated from Duke University and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. Steel began his Goldman Sachs career in Chicago, before eventually moving to work in the New York headquarters. In his three-decade career at Goldman, he rose to the rank of head of the global equities division, vice chairman, and became a member of its management committee. He was also a partner. Steel went on to serve as New York City’s Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and currently serves as CEO of Perella Weinberg Partners. 


EDUCATION & YOUTH: The Steel family through their foundation have recently supported outfits such as Teach for America, Chase Collegiate School,The Windward School, Kennedy School of Government, Columbia College in South Carolina, Harvard University and Duke University (Steel's alma mater.) Between 2003 and 2010, at least $10.53 million went to Duke. The family has also supported Riverdale Country School in the Bronx, a private school the couple's daughter Alexandra (who has a masters in teaching and learning from Harvard) has worked with.

The Steel family also supports youth outfits. Forces here involve Steel's wife Gillian, who serves as vice chair of the board of directors of CitySquash, is a not-for-profit after-school enrichment program based in the Bronx and Brooklyn. Gillian and her daughter have been squash players. The Steels have supportedCitySquash, as well as US Squash and Squash Haven. They've also supported outfits such as Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich, and Sports Humanitarian Group, which does business as Right To Play, and whose mission is 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." It appears that youth sports is an important part of the family's philanthropy.

NYC COMMUNITY: The Steels through their foundation have supported a number of local outfits that tap into urban issues such as alternative transportation, civic space and the environment. They've supported New York Botanical Garden (where Gillian is on the board), Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, The Battery Conservancy, New Yorkers for Parks, Central Park Conservancy, Regional Plan Association, which "improves the New York metropolitan region's economic health, environmental sustainability and quality of life through research," and Transportation Alternatives, whose mission is to "reclaim New YorkCity's streets from the automobile and to promote bicycling, walking and public transit."

POLICY: Sums go for policy, which is no surprise given Robert's work in government. An important grantee here is the international nonprofit Aspen Institute, where Steel once chaired the board of trustees. Some of the outfits the Steels support through their foundation are of the right-of-center variety, including American Enterprise Institute and the Manhattan Institute. Other grantees include Partnership for Public Service and The National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. 

ARTS & CULTURE: The Steels have supported places like The Bruce Museum, Municipal Art Society, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Frick Collection,  and South Street Seaport Museum.

HEALTH: The Steel family appears particularly interested in cancer in their health philanthropy. Grantees have included Breast Cancer Alliance, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Hospital for Special Surgery, Lymphoma Research Foundation, Greenwich Hospital, Melanoma Research Foundation and Duke Cancer Institute.

HUMAN SERVICES: Grantees have included  Connecticut Food Bank, United Way of NYC, Citymeals on Wheels, Salvation Army and Fountain House, which deals with mental illness.

LOOKING FORWARD: Robert Steel and family have been engaged philanthropists with a number of interests. Expect this to continue. It's unclear how much Steel is worth, but he owned a 0.90 percent stake in Goldman prior to its IPO, one of the largest stakes among the 221 member original partnership class.


The Robert K. Steel Family Foundation does not provide a clear avenue of contact but here's an address:

The Robert K. Steel Family Foundation
77 Water St., 9th Fl.
New York City, NY 10005