The Fairfield County founder of one of the world’s most successful and largest hedge funds is setting an example for other billionaires by betting on the future in the form of a $100 million donation for the state’s schools.
Ray Dalio, the founder of Bridgewater Associates in Westport, announced that he will be donating $100 million, which will be matched by the state and then by other philanthropists and business magnates to benefit students. Dalio, of Greenwich, was featured in the latest episode of CBS-TV's "60 Minutes." (See video above.)
"The partnership seeks to raise $300 million over five years: $100 million from the state of Connecticut, matched by $100 million from Dalio Philanthropies and $100 million from other philanthropists and business leaders," a news release stated. The release notes that Dalio has invested more than $50 million in the state’s public school districts, nonprofit organizations and communities over the past four years alone. The organization has also given $72 million to date to support "financial inclusion.”
According to Dalio, the funding will be earmarked for under-resourced communities with a focus on communities with higher poverty rates and teens that show disinterest in their education.
“The domino effects of these conditions are costly,” Dalio penned in a lengthy letter on LinkedIn. “Low incomes, poorly funded schools, and weak family support for children lead to poor academic achievement, which leads to low productivity and low incomes of people who become economic burdens on the society.”
Dalio cited a report that found that “34 percent of high-poverty schools experienced high levels of chronic student absence, versus only 10 percent of high-income schools. Even in Connecticut, one of the wealthiest states by per capita income, 22 percent of youth are disengaged (either missing more than 25 days of school a year, failing two or more courses, or being suspended multiple times) or disconnected (young people not enrolled in school and without a high school degree).
“Disconnected youth in Connecticut are five times more likely to end up incarcerated and 33 percent more likely to be struggling with substance abuse.”
The pledge through Dalio Philanthropies is believed to be the largest known philanthropic donation in Connecticut’s history, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said. The initiative came from an idea from Dalio’s wife, Barbara, who has been active in public education for more than a decade.
Lamont said the first $20 million installment of the state government’s $100 million match to the Dalio Foundation’s contribution will come from the state’s fiscal reserves, which could exceed $2.2 billion by the end of the year.
“This is $300 million invested in you, invested in urban high schools, invested in rural high school, making such that each and every kid gets their best shot,” the governor stated. “And I cannot be more proud, Ray and Barbara, I cannot be more proud of doing this with you.”
The donation has received applause from both sides of the political aisle and garnered universal bipartisan support.
“We appreciate Gov. Lamont’s out-of-the-box creative thinking in moving the state forward in pursuit of alternative methods of funding, such as a public-private partnership,” the legislature’s Republican leaders, Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano and House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, said in a joint statement. “We share the goal of creating more opportunity for Connecticut’s youth.
"This is an idea that is certainly worth exploring, but also that needs to be vetted in great detail. The wellbeing of Connecticut and all who live here is of the utmost importance to all of us and we look forward to many more in-depth conversations to ensure that all people in Connecticut have the best opportunity to succeed.”
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