Friday, November 18, 2005

Mixing Business With Philanthropy in the Classroom

It's great to see what Steve Klinsky's doing with his passion, talent and fortune:
"He wants to do good for children," Mr. Newman said. "Losing money on this is probably one of the great joys of his life."

Mixing Business With Philanthropy in the Classroom

By JENNIFER LEE, NYT, 11/14/05

ONE Tuesday night in September, Steven B. Klinsky, a prominent Wall Street financier, organized a casual Texas Hold 'Em poker tournament at the New York Racquet Club. The invitations drew mostly friends and friends of friends, but they included those already captured in the distinctive stippled portraits of The Wall Street Journal: chief investment officers, managing directors and founders of financial companies large and small. The minimum buy-in was $5,000, all of which would go to Brooklyn after-school centers named after Mr. Klinsky's brother, Gary, who had died of Niemann-Pick disease at age 29.

Mr. Klinsky, ever the capitalist-philanthropist, made a pitch to the astute crowd: it cost nearly $10,000 to educate students for the first six hours of the day, but the Gary Klinsky Children's Centers provide an additional three hours for only $1,200 a student each year. "It's a very cost-efficient model," said Mr. Klinsky, 49. "You get a 50 percent increase for about $1,500," he said.

Amid a crowd of vibrating Blackberrys and Ferragamo ties, some 30 men who traded millions of dollars by day shuffled thousands in poker chips that night. Almost $200,000 was raised, with far fewer speeches and chicken entrees than a standard fund-raiser. Three hours of poker to educate 160 children in the program for a year.

Mr. Klinsky, the founder of New Mountain Capital, is among a generation of successful Wall Street financiers who have turned their entrepreneurial attentions to personal causes, including Rob Davis, who founded Hedge Funds Care to fight child abuse; Julian H. Robertson Jr., who started the Tiger Foundation to combat poverty in New York City; and Paul Tudor Jones II, who started the Robin Hood Foundation with two friends to support antipoverty projects in the city. "You have people who are successful in their careers, highly energetic people," Mr. Klinsky said. "They want to apply the same intelligence and drive to the charitable side of their lives."

But far more than most of his peers, Mr. Klinsky has combined business and philanthropy in another area, education. "Education is a space where it's possible to be entrepreneurial," he said. "If you want to cure cancer, it's beyond my ability to do that directly."...

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