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KKR's Kravis to Become Chairman of U.S. Education Group

KKR & Co. co-founder Henry Kravis was elected chairman of Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, an organization that helps prepare low-income students for college and careers in business.

Kravis, the co-chief executive officer of New York-based KKR, and his wife, Marie-Josee, also pledged $4 million last year to double the number of students entering the organization’s college-preparation program, according to William Goodloe, the group’s CEO. Kravis has given between $100,000 and $1 million annually to the organization since 2009, when KKR partnered with it, Goodloe said in an interview.

Kravis, 70, co-founded KKR as a leveraged-buyout firm in 1976 with his cousin George Roberts and their business partner Jerome Kohlberg, who left the company in 1987. KKR’s success has given Kravis a net worth of $5.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. In 2011 he gave $100 million to Columbia Business School to fund an entrepreneurship center that will bear his name on the school’s new Manhattanville campus in New York.

“He’s taken an interest in meeting the individuals that we serve every year, answering every question and handing out his business cards,” Goodloe said. “Over time he got to learn more about SEO and we had conversations around a more formal role that he could play.”

Kravis will succeed Walter Booker, a retired group vice president at Ameriprise Financial Inc. who went through the organization’s career-training program when he was younger. New York-based Sponsors for Educational Opportunity was started in 1963 by investment banker Michael Osheowitz, according to its website.

In 2009, the group started an alternative-investments track to train students for jobs at private-equity firms and hedge funds. SEO’s sponsors include buyout firms Carlyle Group LP, TPG Capital and Warburg Pincus LLC, as well as Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America Corp.

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