NET WORTH: $1.1 billion
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Chilton Investment Company, Chilton Trust Company
FUNDING AREAS: Arts & Culture, Education, Environment
OVERVIEW: Richard Chilton is a trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Chairman Emeritus of Greenwich Academy, a girls' school in Greenwich, CT. His wife, Maureen, is the chairwoman of the board of the New York Botanical Garden. The couple also runs an extensive scholarship programs for children in China. His giving strategy also seems to have taken a recent turn; the Chilton Family Foundation, where he and his wife serve as directors, was giving out $2-5 million annually prior to 2012, when they shut off the funding, giving away less than $150,000. This does not mean that they have stopped giving, but that they are not doing so primarily through their Foundation, at least as of their last currently available tax filing.
BACKGROUND: Chilton grew up in New Jersey, and attended Alfred College in New York before going to work on Wall St. He worked at Allen & Company, Alliance Capital, and Merrill Lynch before founding both the Chilton Investment Company, and Chilton Trust Company.
ARTS & CULTURE: “Environment and culture,” Chilton has said, are two of his main priorities. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where Chilton is a trustee, is the largest recipient. In 2010, the museum received around $200,000, broken down into numerous gifts of varying amounts, but it got over $2 million in 2011, in two big chunks. Both Chilton and his wife are also on the Director’s Roundtable at the Pierpont Morgan Library, to which the Foundation donated substantially in 2009 and Chilton Investment provided corporate sponsorship.
ENVIRONMENT: Perhaps it is because Chilton spends much of his time in New York City and other major metropolitan areas that he has a different definition of environmental giving than we might ordinarily think of. He did give $1.2 million to a land trust in Darien, CT in 2006, and has also made gifts such as $200,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in 2011, and $50,000 to the Everglades Foundation in 2010. For Chilton, however, environment is closely linked to culture, so his focus is less on conservation, climate change, or clean technology than on creating escapes within an urban environment, which explains why the New York Botanical Garden, where Maureen Chilton is Chairwoman of the Board, is one of their largest beneficiaries, and why the Foundation’s list of donees also includes various historical home preservation societies.
EDUCATION: Chilton is Chairman Emeritus of the Darien Foundation for Technology and Community, which funds capital projects for technology and education; it received $300,000 in 2011. Chilton has also reached out to China by establishing a scholarship fund for students at universities in Chengdu, which suffered an earthquake in 2008. This is not an instance of mere charity, however. Chilton worries about Chinese companies’ “limited access to capital,” and wants to “help support the economic recovery and expansion of the region by pursuing promising investment opportunities.” Helping disadvantaged Chinese students will fuel the economic growth of China, which Chilton sees as good for business in the future rather than a threat.
Several schools have also received funds, such as Berkeley Divinity School and Bucknell University, although the Chiltons’ alma maters, Alfred University and Marymount Manhattan College, do not seem to have been on the receiving end for some time.
NYC & SURROUNDING COMMUNITY: Chilton used to be the Director of the Robin Hood Foundation, a venture philanthropy organization that fights poverty in New York City, to which he's given nearly $6 million. Based on his philosophy that charity starts at home, he also makes significant contributions to a number of organizations in Darien, CT, including St. Luke’s Parish, as well as the Nantucket Golf Club.
LOOKING FORWARD: The recent change in the Chilton Family Foundation's giving is somewhat troubling, but could also mean the Chiltons are rethinking their strategy and may be planning bigger things. All told, the Chiltons have donated at least $30 million in the last 10 years, which is not a very significant chunk of his $1.3 billion net worth. At 56, Chilton still has plenty of productive years left in his career though, so we may have to wait a bit longer before we see a major increase in giving.
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