Breaking News

ConocoPhillips Second-Quarter Adjusted EPS $1.61, Matching Estimates
Tweet TWEET

Robin Hood Scene: Blankfein, Soros, Neil Young, Rihanna

Tap for Slideshow
Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Guests entered the "Robin Hood Subway" to get to the party.

Close
Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Guests entered the "Robin Hood Subway" to get to the party. Close

Guests entered the "Robin Hood Subway" to get to the party.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Mary Pat Christie, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Steve Cohen applaud Eli Manning onto the Robin Hood stage. Close

Mary Pat Christie, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Steve Cohen applaud Eli Manning onto the Robin Hood stage.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

George Soros and Paul Tudor Jones. Close

George Soros and Paul Tudor Jones.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Lee Ainslie, chairman of Robin Hood Foundation, Tiger Management alumnus and head of Maverick Capital Management LP. Close

Lee Ainslie, chairman of Robin Hood Foundation, Tiger Management alumnus and head of Maverick Capital Management LP.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Chief executives Howard Lutnick of Cantor Fitzgerald and Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Close

Chief executives Howard Lutnick of Cantor Fitzgerald and Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Neil Young was a surprise guest, performing "Heart of Gold" at the start of dinner. Close

Neil Young was a surprise guest, performing "Heart of Gold" at the start of dinner.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, and his wife, Sheri Schultz, were gala co-chairmen. Close

Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, and his wife, Sheri Schultz, were gala co-chairmen.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Bill Ackman, CEO, Pershing Square Capital Management, and Tony Asnes, head of investment relations at Pershing Square. Close

Bill Ackman, CEO, Pershing Square Capital Management, and Tony Asnes, head of investment relations at Pershing Square.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Jay Leno in a video demonstrated how to use the electronic pledging devices. More than 30 million was raised on the IML Worldwide devices. Close

Jay Leno in a video demonstrated how to use the electronic pledging devices. More than 30 million was raised on the... Read More

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Laura Wasserman and Glenn Dubin of Highbridge Capital Management. Close

Laura Wasserman and Glenn Dubin of Highbridge Capital Management.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Rihanna performing at the Robin Hood benefit. Close

Rihanna performing at the Robin Hood benefit.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Robin Hood staff met April 26 to review gala decor and messaging. From left, Lindsay Carroll, producer, events; Patty Smith, managing director, marketing and communications; Mark Bezos, senior vice president; and Erica Lee Young, executive producer, events. Close

Robin Hood staff met April 26 to review gala decor and messaging. From left, Lindsay Carroll, producer, events; Patty... Read More

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

At the April 26 meeting, Frank Liu, Robin Hood's senior art director, discussed visuals with David Saltzman, the foundation's executive director. Close

At the April 26 meeting, Frank Liu, Robin Hood's senior art director, discussed visuals with David Saltzman, the... Read More

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

In the Robin Hood gala war room two weeks before the event, a bulletin board displayed the dining room layout -- of 400 tables -- and other details. The "voice of God" refers to the speaker on the venue's public address system. Close

In the Robin Hood gala war room two weeks before the event, a bulletin board displayed the dining room layout -- of... Read More

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

A computer diagram shows the layout of the Javits Center spaces used for the gala. Close

A computer diagram shows the layout of the Javits Center spaces used for the gala.

The Robin Hood Foundation put George Soros, Steve Cohen, Lloyd Blankfein, Stanley Tucci and about 3,800 other guests on a virtual train ride last night at its annual gala.

The subway-themed event at Manhattan’s sprawling Javits Center featured gigantic projection screens showing New Yorkers going through the turnstiles and waiting on benches for trains.

The price of admission was $3,000. The total raised last night was $57.4 million, including $13 million pledged on electronic devices to Robin Hood and $19 million pledged on the same devices to a new initiative with the X Prize Foundation, which will offer prizes to find solutions to poverty in New York City and beyond.

“We chose the subway as our theme because the subway connects New York City and Robin Hood connects New York City,” said the foundation’s executive director, David Saltzman. “It’s a good way to demonstrate the work we do in different neighborhoods.”

“I rode the New Lots Avenue subway as a kid,” said Blankfein, chairman and chief executive of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) The event badge he wore looked like the MetroCard used to enter the subway system.

R Train

Bill Ackman, founder and chief executive of Pershing Square Capital Management, said he took the R train to the gala.

The event, one of the largest single fundraisers in the U.S., raised $47.4 million last year with a big donation from Soros, and $87.8 million in 2010.

Last year the foundation gave $146 million to more than 200 nonprofits providing job training, shelter, meals, education and health care in New York’s five boroughs.

The subway experience was just one device Robin Hood’s in- house event-planning staff used last night to explain why guests were there and who they were helping.

Photographs of clients of the Children’s Health Fund, Women in Need and other Robin Hood grantees were shot for the gala by commercial photographer Jason Knott.

These visuals competed with a parade of business and media stars who came up to the stage during dinner, among them Howard Schultz, chairman and chief executive of Starbucks Corp. (SBUX) and a gala chairman, Robin Hood board chairman Lee Ainslie, who runs Maverick Capital Management LP, and NBC late-night comedians Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers.

Governor, Admiral

Among those at some 400 tables, Paul Tudor Jones, founder of Tudor Investment Corp., sat with Soros. Jones started Robin Hood in his bachelor pad over Chinese take-out 24 years ago.

Cohen, of SAC Capital Advisors LP, sat with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, retired U.S. Navy admiral Michael Mullen and art adviser Sandy Heller. Cohen, the father of a Brown University graduate who became a Marine, is co-head of the foundation’s Veterans Advisory Council.

Neil Young, a surprise performer, came on just as guests dug into grilled cheese and gazpacho. His first song was “Heart of Gold.” After chocolate cake and coffee, Rihanna kicked off with “Only Girl” and kept the crowd bobbing along with “Run This Town” and “Live Your Life.”

Robin Hood serves New York City residents living below the poverty line ($22,314 annually for a family of four in 2010). They number 1.8 million according to Robin Hood, representing one in five New Yorkers. The Census Bureau counted their total number in the U.S. at 46.2 million.

It’s the third-largest donor in the U.S. among community foundations, and No. 30 among all U.S. foundations, based on Foundation Center data.

Doing the Math

Grantees are evaluated on the basis of how much their programs increase the income of people served. Drawing on available research and recipient data, Robin Hood develops mathematical equations to determine the amount of each grant’s income lift.

“We look at dissimilar assets and compare their value,” Saltzman said. “It’s what Bloomberg users do every day.”

Some of the factors Robin Hood considers are what income the person would have been able to earn without the help of the nonprofit, and how the nonprofit would fare without Robin Hood’s support.

For example, a job-training program with a high placement rate for people who would probably have found jobs on their own has lower priority than an organization lifting people who would otherwise have had less opportunity.

On the basis of these measures, Robin Hood says that every $1.15 it grants results in $16 in future revenue for a poor New Yorker.

Robin Hood board members pay for the cost of the gala, so that guests’ money goes directly to grantees. In 2010, the event costs exceeded $8 million according to the organization’s tax return in that year, the most recent available.

The gala is one of the dozens of events the organization plans for its supporters. There are also rock concerts and a “Robin Hood Unplugged” series in which program officers use flip charts to give presentations about grantees.

(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

Muse highlights include Jeremy Gerard on theater and James Pressley on business books.

To contact the writer on this story: Amanda Gordon at agordon01@bloomberg.net or on Twitter @amandagordon.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

Bloomberg reserves the right to remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.