Kenneth Cordele Griffin is an American billionaire, hedge fund manager, founder of the global investment firm Citadel, and an avid philanthropist, who actively supports a broad range of causes.
Kenneth Griffin was born on October 15th, 1969 in Daytona Beach in Florida, and grew up in Boca Raton, Florida. He started studying at Harvard College in 1986 and graduated in 1989. After finishing his studies, Kenneth Griffin moved to Chicago to start working with Frank Meyer, founder of Glenwood Capital Investments.
A year later he founded his own company Citadel LLC. In 2003, when he was 34, he was listed as the youngest individual on the Forbes 400 with a net worth of over $650 million. In 2022, he had a net worth of over $27 billion, which puts him on the list of the 100 richest people in the United States.
Kenneth Griffin Charity: What Does He Do?
Kenneth Griffin is a prodigious donor to a number of organizations and causes in his personal capacity. In 2009, he founded the Kenneth C. Griffin Charitable Fund that invests in high-impact education, civic initiatives, and health. The fund has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to various education and arts causes, mainly around Chicago.
University of Chicago
One of the most generations donations by the Kenneth C. Charitable Fund was made in 2017 when it donated $125 million to the University of Chicago with the intention to support the Department of Economics.
The purpose of this financial gift was to help develop future leaders in the field of economics, as well as provide critical financial help for undergraduate and graduate students, and create a research incubator. In 2006, Kenneth Griffin with the Bill and Melinda Gates founded a new charter school in Chicago that was named Woodlawn High School.
The same year, he and his wife gave $19 million to the Art Institute of Chicago's Modern Wing. The Modern Wing is a 264,000-square-foot addition to the Art Institute that is located at the southwest corner of Columbus Drive and Monroe Street. Later, they also donated an additional $500,000 towards the institute-organized exhibition called "Jasper Johns: Gray".
Griffin explained that the Art Institute was an early date site with his future wife, and that is why they have a special connection to this place. They invested in the Modern Wing hoping that it would be one of the greatest museum buildings in the world.
Donations to Harvard
In 2014, Harvard College, where Kenneth Griffin studies in the 80-s, received $150 million from the billionaire. Most of the money went toward undergraduate financial aid. Mr. Griffin described this generous gift as an investment in the next generation of leaders in the United States. Griffin's donation had a positive impact on 800 undergraduate students.
Also, this gift allowed to establish a cohort of 200 Griffin scholarship recipients. It is also important to note that in his 10th reunion year at Harvard College, Kenneth Griffin decided to establish a special scholarship named in honor of his grandfather, Wayne R. Gratz.
$600 Million in Donations
During his lifetime, Kenneth Griffin donated about $600 million to various Chicago organizations. The latest recipients of Griffin's financial help in 2022 include:
- The University of Chicago - $30 million;
- Northwestern Medicine (one of the leaders in quality healthcare and service) - $25 million
- The Field Museum - $29 million
- The Museum of Science and Industry - $10 million
- Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago - $5 million
- The Shirley Ryan Ability Lab - $5 million
- The Museum of Contemporary Art - $5 million
- The Art Institute of Chicago - $5 million
- Project HOOD Leadership and Economic Opportunity Center - $5 million
- Chicago Public Education Fund - $5 million
- Chicago Symphony Orchestra - an unreported amount
In 2024, the Museum of Science and Industry is planning to rename the institution in his honor. There are also institutions that already bear Griffin's name, including the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Chicago's economics department.
Other Organizations Griffin Supports
There are also many other organizations that Griffin supports financially. One of them, for example, is Success Academies, a network of charter schools in the state of New York that teach children to pursue their passions, be more confident, and become creative and critical thinkers. Success Academy is ranked number one in academic achievement in New York.
Another organization that Mr. Griffin also supports is called Saga Education. It supports struggling students and accelerates their learning in math. The businessman also partners with community-based organizations, including the University of Chicago Crime Lab that is focused on integrating technology in crime fighting and improving management practices in police departments.
Kenneth Griffin is also known as a generous political donor. Since 2011, Mr. Griffin donated over $6.5 million to political action committees that are administered by trade associations, labor unions, corporations, or membership organizations. In addition, he also donated over $1 million to political action committees and individual campaigns at the federal level.
In the period between 2010 and 2014, he donated more than $2 million to the America Crossroads Super PAC, and he also made donations to both Republican and Democratic candidates, including former Senator John Kerry, President Barack Obama, Senator Bill Nelson, Senator Ron Johnson, and others. Kenneth Griffin also financially supported the National Republican Congressional Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
In 2022, Kenneth Griffin and his family moved from Chicago to Miami, where he has already made his first donations. In total, he donated about $55 million in Florida, including a $5 million seed investment in the Miami Disaster Resilience Fund, the purpose of which is to expand broadband access in underserved communities. He also supported financially the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach.
For his philanthropic contributions, Kenneth Griffin received Simon-DeVos Prize for Philanthropic Leadership. It honors philanthropists who have demonstrated leadership through their donations and charitable giving.
Griffin's charitable is a philanthropy that provides new opportunities, opens doors for people in a wide range of endeavors from the arts to education, and has a highly positive impact on people's lives. Griffin's philanthropy empowered thousands of students and expanded access to high-quality education.
Ken Griffin credits his success in business and philanthropy to his parents and grandparents, who taught him the most valuable lessons in life. He learned from them how to be passionate about a career, and the importance of learning and making a difference.
Thanks to his grandmother, who sponsored Griffin's education, he established the Financial Aid Office at Harvard College. It provides young people with any economic disadvantages the highest quality education.
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Written by Lily Wordsmith
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