Co-founder of Private Equity Firm Donating $1 Million to Northern Arizona University

Great news for education students at Northern Arizona University!

George Roberts, co-founder of private equity firm KKR, is giving $1 million to NAU to support education students during their student-teaching semester. The money will be divided into $5,000 scholarships.

The scholarships will be offered to first-generation college students from underrepresented demographic groups that have a demonstrated need for financial aid. The donation is part of Roberts’ greater mission to empower marginalized people.

“Those who complete college do better—they make more money and have more stable lives,” Roberts said in an interview with the Arizona Daily Sun. “It’s a way to break the cycle of poverty that keeps so many from reaching their true potential. If we’re ever going to improve the economic inequality in this country it’s going to be through education and jobs.”

Roberts is making the donation in honor of William A. Franke, a close friend of his whom he’s known for nearly 50 years. Franke is the cofounder and managing partner of Indigo Partners, a Phoenix-based private equity and venture capital firm.

When Roberts brought up the idea of making a donation in his name, Franke recommended NAU. Franke himself has been an avid supporter of NAU for many years, which is why NAU’s W.A. Franke College of Business is named after him. Those who receive the $5,000 scholarships will be known as Franke Scholars.

“We are incredibly grateful for George Roberts’ generosity,” said President of NAU Rita Hartung Cheng. “There is a significant need for high-quality teachers, and through this gift, George Roberts and Bill Franke will ensure that NAU students will become those exceptional teachers.”

At a time when tuition costs are rising and colleges are facing budget cuts, donations like this are invaluable. It’s especially important due to the fact that it creates more opportunities for minorities, who already face significant socioeconomic challenges.