Hedge Fund Billionaire Griffin to Give $15 Million to Robin Hood

  • Poverty-fighting group gets gift as it welcomes a new CEO
  • Griffin challenges other donors to give at critical juncture

Ken Griffin, the billionaire founder of hedge fund firm Citadel LLC, will make a $15 million donation to the Robin Hood Foundation, a New York City poverty-fighting group that named a new chief executive officer this week.

Ken Griffin and Henry Kravis at the 2011 Robin Hood benefit

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Griffin plans to announce the grant Thursday at Major Food Group’s yet-to-open restaurant in the Seagram Building in Manhattan. The event is part of the lead-up to the foundation’s annual benefit on May 15, and will give many donors a chance to meet incoming CEO Wes Moore.

The challenge grant is “a springboard for Robin Hood’s leadership to go out and raise the money that we need to fight poverty,” as well as an endorsement of Moore, Griffin said in a statement. “I’m excited to see what the Robin Hood team will accomplish under his leadership in the years to come.”

The foundation, a favorite cause of Wall Street’s elite, said on April 25 that Moore would succeed David Saltzman in the top job later this year. Moore, 38, is a Rhodes Scholar, a former U.S. Army captain who served in Afghanistan and a onetime investment banker at Citigroup Inc.

Wes Moore and Geoffrey Canada at Harlem Children’s Zone on April 26.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

How donors take to Moore is critical to Robin Hood’s success. Saltzman, who led the organization for 27 years, helped raise $2.5 billion in that time. Griffin’s gift will be counted toward the annual benefit’s total haul, and is intended to inspire other donors.

“CEO transitions can be incredibly difficult,” said Chris Addy, at partner at the Bridgespan Group, a philanthropy consultancy. “A gift like this enables Mr. Moore and the Robin Hood Foundation to thrive in those earliest days. It’s a huge vote of confidence in CEO approval to kick-start this new era.”

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