After graduating from Grinnell and New York Law School, Henry L. Cornell enjoyed a storied and successful career at Goldman Sachs. Cornell joined Goldman Sachs in 1984, working in the investment banking division, and served as vice chairman and CEO of the merchant banking division. More recently, he founded the investment firm Cornell Capital.
It's unclear how much the 59-year-old is worth, but evidently, it was enough that Cornell was able to put his wealth into philanthropy. In 1996, he established the Henry Cornell Foundation, now called the Cornell Family Foundation. Cornell and his wife Vanessa are the two sole trustees of this vehicle, which flies well under the radar with a minimal web presence and no clear guidelines for grantseekers. In a recent fiscal year, the foundation awarded around $450,000.
Through their foundation, Cornell and Vanessa have primarily supported outfits in and around New York City, where they live. One interest of the couple is education, and they've given recent grants to St. Paul’s School, The Episcopal School, as well as DWC Scholarship Student Aid Fund. Cornell has also supported his alma mater Grinnell College.
The couple also supports youth. Recent Cornell Family Foundation grantees include New Yorkers for Children, whose goal is to "support efforts to improve the well-being of youth in foster care through education, career development, the acquisition of life skills, and strengthening the child welfare system," Girl Scouts of Greater New York, Right to Play (an early childhood program), and Graham Windham, "the longest serving non-sectarian child welfare agency in the nation."
The couple also earmarks funds for health, and here, supporting youth is of interest. The Cornells have bankrolled outfits such as Mt. Sinai Adolescent Health Center, The Matthew Larson Foundation for Pediatric Brain Tumors, and St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a childhood cancer outfit. Other health grantees include Mount Sinai Women's Health Program, and Columbia University Medical Center.
Cornell and Vanessa also have an interest in arts and culture. They've given to the Film Society of Lincoln Center, Manhattan Theatre Club, Whitney Museum of American Art, and Asia Society, "a nonprofit organization that focuses on educating the world about Asia," among other outfits. It's worth noting that Cornell, while at Goldman, lived and worked in Asia for more than a decade.
The couple also funds organizations that support the NYC community, such as Citizens Committee of NYC and City Harvest, a hunger outfit. Of late, Cornell's grantmaking has largely focused on New York City, but keep an eye on is Cornell's attempt to get a winery going in California: that might augur some California philanthropy down the line.
Related: Henry L. Cornell