John Arnold

At forty years old, John Arnold is one of the highest profiting hedgefund managers of all time. John and Laura Arnold are estimated to be worth $4 billion dollars, and surprisingly, plan on giving all of their wealth away to charity.  After quietly managing his fund out of Houston for several years before closing shop in 2012, one could look at his story and wonder if it was all some sort of diabolically genius plan to take from the rich and give to the poor.

John Arnold’s approach to philanthropy is different than most charitable billionaires. A month ago, he agreed to fund a $26 million study on obesity, after speaking with dozens of top experts to identify exactly what kind of study would provide specific, quantifiable results.  He believes the right way to make major changes is through funding the best possible science and data projects, then shifting to putting pressure on policy makers to use the science to implement positive social change.  In a world that is shifting to specific details in marketing and nonprofit interaction, The Laura and John Arnold Foundation chooses to focus on the big picture: tackling research on criminal justice, nutrition and education.

The foundation’s first point in its “Philosophy of Philanthropy” section is “Philanthropy should seek transformational change, not incremental change,” is an indicator that the foundation not only seeks broad sweeping social change, but a change in the way philanthropy is currently being approached.  While giving to foundations that give aid to the needy right away is still good, the Arnolds also know that charitable work also has room to create change in a broader spectrum.  This fresh approach to tackling the social problems of today definitely make The Laura and John Arnold Foundation something to watch.

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