Amount donated: Over $500m.
Philanthropic Causes: Education, health care, community development.
Region of Philanthropic Focus: U.S.
Ranking: #157 on Forbes Billionaires List.
Net Worth: Forbes put his net worth at $7.6bn in 2016.
Source of Wealth: Investment banking.
Kenneth Griffin is an active supporter of educational causes and his alma mater Harvard University. He has donated in excess of $500m, $250m of which are personal donations. Griffin is known as one of the world’s most active art buyers, having spent an estimated $500m on his art collection.
In his second year of university at Harvard, Griffin started his first hedge fund company. With a donation from his grandmother as well as other friends and family members, the fund began with $265,000 in investment. Using a satellite link he installed to his dorm, Griffin was able to monitor real time market data. His investment strategy helped preserve capital during the stock market crash of 1987.
After his initial success, Griffin started a second fund and was soon managing $1m between the two funds. He then went on to become founder of Citadel, one of the world’s largest alternative management investment firms. Griffin’s net worth is now estimated at $7.6bn and his donations have largely been focused on Education, Health Care – specifically Alzheimer’s, blindness and Cancer research – and the community in Chicago, much of which have been personal donations. When asked why he continues working today even after becoming a billionaire several times over, Griffin said “I don’t come to work to make another dollar for the sake of another dollar. I come to work because it really is a chance for me to grow as a person.”
47 year old Griffin married Anne Dias-Griffin in July 2004 and together the couple co-founded the Kenneth and Anne Griffin Foundation in 2009. The couple have 3 children but divorced due to ‘irreconcilable differences’ in 2015. In 2011, Griffin donated $11m to his church, the Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago, in order to build a new chapel. The building was named ‘The Gratz Centre’ in honour of his grandparents.
In October 2006, the Griffins joined the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to donate to and support the opening of a charter school in Chicago called the Woodlawn High School. The couple would go on to donate to more children’s institutions including the Chicago Heights Early Childhood Centre, Children’s Memorial Hospital and University of Chicago’s Early Childhood Centre. Mr. Griffin also loved and collected art and was a contributor to several arts’ institutions such as the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Museum of Contemporary Art.
Griffin, when asked about his large $150m donation to Harvard University, said that he believes financial aid is a “key part” of making Harvard “available and open to all.” He also reflected on his own financial aid in his youth from his family and friends and while he asserts that his parents were always very supportive of his choices in going to school, he commented that “for my parents and for myself, the financial support of my grandmother was really important. Not everybody has that in life.” It could be said that Mr. Griffin recognises his good fortune for the help he received in the early days of his business and wants to give some of that good will back to the education system.