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.

Profiles Resources

Non-Bank Financial Companies

Non Banking Financial Companies
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Most of the time when people think about borrowing or saving money or making investments, they think about banks. But banks are not always the only option for individuals dealing with capital. Non-bank financial companies (NBFCs) are financial institutions that are not legally banks, yet can provide many banking services to the public.

Though NBFCs cannot usually accept deposits from the public, they can still provide an array of services, such as giving out loans, funding educational costs, lending credit lines, providing retirement planning, and other investment services dealing with money markets and stocks. They also commonly provide real estate investments for companies.

In the past few years, the number of NBFCs has grown greatly, and they continue to pop into existence here and there. For example, Henry Kravis’ and George Roberts’ private equity company, KKR, recently partnered with Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund to set up an NBFC that will primarily lend money for property developers in India.

This is particularly good news for developers, as loans have been harder and harder to come by during these hard economic times. Banks are becoming more hesitant to lend money for fear that it will not be paid back because of the economic slump; however, this only serves to exacerbate the problem by discouraging growth. NBFCs can help remedy the issue.

“The NBFC will offer structured debt to real estate companies and it is a good way to bring permanent, long-term debt and equity capital into the sector,” said one source close to the KKR and Singapore partnership.

Since public deposits cannot usually be accepted by NBFCs, they must find some other way to stay afloat. This is where companies like KKR come into play, since they lend the money needed to fund operations. When loans are repaid with interest, the investing companies earn back the money spent and then some, all the while helping to spur economic growth.


People Who Give Back to Education

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There are some among the wealthy that simply keep what they earn, not feeling it necessary to give back. But then there are those like Henry R. Kravis and George Roberts, founders of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR), who highly value the education they received and never hesitate to give big and often.

For example, George Roberts recently gave a “no strings attached” $50 million gift to Claremont McKenna College, where he received his bachelor’s degree. His donation represents a large chunk of the school’s total funds raised of over $600 million this year. The school has decided to use the money to build new athletic facilities, which will bear George Roberts’ namesake.

Roberts’ partner in crime, Henry R. Kravis, has also bestowed hefty gifts upon both Claremont McKenna (where he, too, received his bachelor’s degree) and Columbia (where he earned his MBA). He donated a stunning $100 million to support the latter’s move of its business school to Manhattanville. One of the new facilities built will be called The Henry R. Kravis Building, and will be a state-of-the-art collaborative learning center.

Other well-known faces have also heavily supported education through the years. Mark Zuckerberg donated $100 million to Newark Public Schools and Justin Timberlake gave $200,000 to music education facilities in Memphis, where he grew up. Will and Jada Smith have also made significant contributions, supporting local programs, replacing stolen technology, and founding the Will and Jada Smith Summer Thinking Scholars Academy.

And of course, Bill and Melinda Gates, founders of The Giving Pledge, are known worldwide for their charitable involvement. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has made contributions well into the billions, including funding for grants, scholarships, school improvements, and supporting minority students.

It is uplifting to see so many leaders in our world taking a stand and supporting worthy causes like education. Americans are blessed to have a government that supports a free education for all people. Donations like those made by George Roberts, Henry Kravis, Mark Zuckerberg, Justin Timberlake, Will and Jada Smith, and Bill and Melinda Gates are even more important in times when education funding continues to see cuts. They really do help keep the dream alive.



George Roberts: Founder of the Nonprofit Organization, REDF

George Roberts
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George Roberts is not only the co-founder of one of the most prominent private equity giants in the industry, but is also the founder and  Chairman of the board of directors for the Roberts Enterprise Development Fund (REDF). REDF is currently led by several full-time staff members, a Board of Directors, and an Advisory Council. Its funding is provided by an array of private (individual and institutional) donors, as well as through the federal government’s Social Innovation Fund.

Click here to read more about George Roberts’ success in the business world as well as the philanthropy world.

Organizations Profiles

George Robert’s REDF: Creating Employment Opportunities

George Roberts

George Roberts founded the Roberts Enterprise Development Fund (REDF) in order to, “create jobs and employment opportunities for people facing the greatest barriers to work.” By providing “equity-like grants and business assistance” to non-profits, REDF helps create jobs and, therefore, improves California’s employment rates and overall socio-economic well being. REDF aims to keep expanding in order to help more people and improve the lives of individuals (and the economy) in California.

To read more about George Roberts and REDF, click here!