Our recent look at America's highest paid hedge fund manager, David Tepper, got us wondering about the philanthropic interests of his friend and colleague Alan Fournier. Fournier, who used to work for Tepper, and now manages his own $6 billion hedge fund, Pennant Capital Management, and has partnered with Tepper to found a political action committee called Better Education for New Jersey Kids.
Fournier didn't make Forbes' billionaires list, making his personal wealth hard to pinpoint. But it would be surprising if he didn't reach the billionaire mark in the next several years, given that many of his counterparts that manage similar sized funds have already eclipsed that milestone. Regardless of exactly how large his personal fortune is, however, he certainly has plenty of money to put toward philanthropy, and several causes that he is passionate about.
In addition to being an advocate for education policy reform in his home state of New Jersey, he is on the board of trustees for TEAM Schools, which consists of five charter schools in the Newark area. Along with Tepper, he supports merit pay and teacher tenure reform, which has caused some tension between his organization and NJ teachers unions. The pair has reportedly spent over $25 million between 2009 and 2011 advocating for reform and giving out 40,000 backpacks stuffed with school supplies, though how much of that backing came from Fournier is unclear because there are no records of any gifts anywhere near that large coming from his family foundation.
Of his contributions that can be accounted for, he's given at least a million to TEAM Schools, as well as to his alma mater, the Wentworth Institute of Technology. Other area schools and schools with which his family is affiliated have received donations totalling somewhere in the neighborhood of $1-$1.5 million as well, and the New York and New Jersey branches of Teach for America have received north of half a million dollars. Together with Tepper, Fournier gave $3 million in 2014 to help set up an institute in Jersey City that will train principals for the district's public schools. He also donates smaller amounts to a number of other local organizations that focus on need-based scholarships, after-school enrichment, and head start programs.
Aside from education, Fournier's main interests are animal welfare and organizations that support veterans, and people with disabilities. In particular, humane societies, and sports programs for people with disabilities.
While the Fournier Family Foundation has been gradually increasing its giving in the last several years, from under a million to over three, the increase appears to be a result of a few relatively large one-off gifts. The result has been some $8 million or so donated in the last decade, and another $5 million in assets for the foundation, which isn't really all that much considering what he is capable of.
Still, Fournier is in the prime of his career, and has plenty of time to get more serious about his giving. And based on his track record so far, it seems he is likely to do just that.