James and Penny Coulter

NET WORTH: $2.1 billion

SOURCE OF WEALTH: Founding Partner of TPG Capital

FUNDING AREAS: Education, Entrepreneurship, San Francisco Community

OVERVIEW: James Coulter and his wife Penny do not appear to have a personal charitable foundation. One of Coulter’s major interests is education. To that end, he helped create the LEAD Commission, which studies how digital technology can improve schools. The couple have also made donations to Bay Area outfits, and from what we can track, a handful of environmental outfits, as well. New Orleans, where Penny is from, is also a site of philanthropic and civic work. 

BACKGROUND: Billionaire James Coulter received his B.A. from Dartmouth College and his MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business. Coulter began his career at Lehman Brothers Kuhn Loeb. In 1986, he joined Keystone Inc., a private equity firm formerly known as the Robert M. Bass Group. Coulter met David "Bondo" Bonderman while working for Bass, and eventually Coulter and Bonderman struck out on their own. Coulter is a founding partner of TPG Capital, established in 1992, a leading global private investment firm with some $74 billion of capital under management. Coulter lives in San Francisco. 


EDUCATION: Coulter is a member of LEAD Commission. He started digging into this area and was recently awarded a Common Sense Media Educational Leadership Award. Common Sense is a "San Francisco-based nonprofit organization that provides education and advocacy to families to promote safe technology and media for children." When accepting his award, Coulter said that "the most important content area is education… and somehow, technology has barely scratched it."

LEAD Commission analyzes the ways in which technology is currently being implemented, "determining which barriers are inhibiting greater usage, and recommending specific actions to accelerate adoption." The commission is co chaired Coulter, Columbia University President Lee Bollinger and Common Sense Media founder Jim Steyer.

Apart from this work, Coulter sits on the board of trustees of Dartmouth and Stanford, and his wife Penny is on the board of San Francisco University High School.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP: The Coulters are involved in Penny's hometown of New Orleans. Some of the work the Coulters have done in this area involves the Idea Village, "whose mission is to identify, support, and retain entrepreneurial talent in New Orleans." During New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, Coulter has run the Coulter IDEAPitch, a competition for New Orleans startups to meet with investors in Silicon Valley. 

SAN FRANCISCO COMMUNITY: The couple has given recently to outfits including San Francisco Film Society, SFJAZZ, where Penny recently chaired the 2015 SFJAZZ Gala, and the Tipping Point Community which fights poverty in the Bay Area.

LOOKING FORWARD: Coulter is only in his 50s and he is still very much engaged in business. His recent donations to Audubon Nature Institute, and Grand Canyon Trust may be a sign of more environmental philanthropy down the line. The Coulters will have to establish a formal charitable vehicle, too, if they mean to get serious about philanthropy.