This Nonprofit Wants to Teach 20,000 Women to Code by 2020

Fed up with how slow progress has been, a U.K.-based charity is going full throttle on closing the gender wage gap in tech.

Code First: Girls, located in Britain, is an award-winning nonprofit dedicated to teaching free computer programming skills to women. The organization recently made headlines when it announced its 20:20 campaign—an initiative to train 20,000 women to code by the end of 2020.

It’s bold, it’s revolutionary, and it’s inspiring. But most importantly, it’s possible thanks to myriad supporters both domestic and abroad.

One such supporter is global investment firm KKR, which will provide financial backing for the campaign beginning December 2017. The firm’s generosity reflects a company culture that’s been cultivated by co-CEOS Henry Kravis and George Roberts, who have continually backed initiatives related to diversity and inclusion.

“Coding is becoming an increasingly important skill that should be available equally to all, regardless of gender,” said Jean-Pierre Saad, Director of KKR’s TMT team in London. “We are hence [sic] delighted to partner with a pioneering organization like Code First: Girls and support them in tackling gender diversity in tech, which we believe will drive better outcomes for businesses and our communities.”

“One of the biggest barriers to women entering the tech industry is education, and our 20:20 campaign is designed to address this by providing skills that are critical to the digital economy,” said Amali de Alwis, CEO of Code First: Girls. “Our partnership with a leading investment firm like KKR, which has such a deep and wide network with companies in the U.K. and worldwide, is a fantastic opportunity for our organization. Their support is key to us delivering our 20:20 campaign.”

Since its initial founding in 2012, Code First: Girls has taught over 4,000 women how to program. If the organization is to meet its 20:20 campaign goal, they will need to teach approximately 16,000 women to code over the next three years.

Challenging? Yes. Impossible? No.

Donation News

Star-Studded Sing-a-Long Raises $5 Million for Historic Apollo Theatre

Since it first opened in 1934, the Apollo Theatre has been a hotspot for African American culture—particularly music. Its amateur night has been the starting point for many big names in music, including Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Bill Cosby, and Lauryn Hill. These days, the theater relies on generous donations to keep its legacy going. That’s why billionaire Ron Perelman’s seventh annual fundraiser is so important.

On August 20, Perelman’s “little barn in the Hamptons” was filled with big names from a variety of entertainment and business backgrounds, including comedian Chris Rock, singer/actress Jennifer Lopez, and private equity guru Henry Kravis.

Guests paid $10,000 to mingle among the stars and hear live music performances by Lionel Richie (who led sing-a-longs to his hits), The Roots, Gwen Stefani, and Joe Walsh. But there was a purpose beyond fun—to raise funds for the Apollo Theatre.

“We’ve got to break the divide between the haves and have-nots, the rich and the poor,” Perelman told his guests. “I think we can manage to do it with the arts….And the Apollo can do that better than any other institution I’ve been involved with.”

The theater that was to become the historic Apollo was built in Harlem, New York in 1913 by Jules Hurtig and Harry Seamon. The two burlesque operators ran it as Hurtig and Seamon’s New Burlesque Theater. In 1928 Bill Minsky bought the building and renamed it the 125th Street Apollo Theatre. Even though Harlem was becoming the epicenter of African American culture by that time, audiences and entertainers at the theater were entirely white.

That all changed on January 26, 1934, when new owners Sydney S. Cohen and Morris Sussman reopened the Apollo as a theater specifically meant to showcase black performance. Its “amateur night” became a popular feature, creating space for the first performances for many who went on to become big names in the music industry.

The Apollo is now officially a landmark building, drawing an estimated 1.3 million visitors every year.

Perelman’s annual fundraiser provides the Apollo with regular funds—this year, about $5 million—to continue its support of the African American art scene in New York.

Photo: Felix Lipov /

News Resources

Companies that Give to Education

Several high-profile companies have committed themselves to donating generous funds to education to promote its quality, longevity—and, most importantly, its accessibility. Among these companies are private equity firm KKR, who have made significant contributions to schools through the Sponsors for Educational Opportunity programs, and Google, who is donating Chromebooks to incoming refugees to help them settle into their new homes and to provide refugees with a reliable educational platform. Additionally, car company Fiat Chrysler now offers free college educations to its employees. Though the donations and efforts look a little different, these companies are all working to support education.

KKR has given support to the Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) for years. SEO Scholars is an eight-year academic program that helps underprivileged public high school students all the way through college, supporting them for a significant portion of their lives. KKR cofounder Henry Kravis and KKR global head of public affairs Ken Mehlman attended the program’s 13th Annual Awards Dinner recently. “Since becoming Chairman of SEO’s Board of Directors, I’ve continued to be inspired by the determination of the young people we serve,” Kravis said.

Google is also doing its part to make sure people of all ages are getting access to information and opportunities they need. The tech company is donating $5.3 million to provide nonprofits with Chromebooks for Syrian refugees to help them learn new work skills, a local language, and to help them continue whatever studies they left behind. Chromebooks are an excellent low-cost option for nonprofits that can help needy people settle in to a new culture.

“[Chromebooks] can run an educational game for children, a language course for younger adults, or even feature information about the asylum application process on a pre-installed homepage,” said Jacqueline Fuller, director of Google.

Perhaps the only option better than a Chromebook is to simply offer free college education to those who want it. That’s what Fiat Chrysler is doing: the company is offering “no-cost, no-debt” college educations through Strayer University. The college offers Associate’s, Bachelor’s, and Master’s degrees in 40 different fields. In Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, Alabama, and Tennessee, 356 dealerships have opted in to participate in the program. Any employee can enroll. The company hasn’t announced how the program is paid for, but it is likely that a deal between the two institutions has been reached. Fiat Chrysler’s program, called Degrees@Work, contributes to the overall wealth of knowledge its employees have that they can then pour back into the company.

Through these measures, these three companies are contributing to the world’s shared knowledge, empowering workers and educating people for the better.


Millions Raised at the 2014 SEO Scholars Awards Dinner

SEO Scholars
SEO 11th Annual Awards Dinner on April 30, 2014. IMG: via SEO Scholars.

The annual Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) Scholars Awards Dinner drew out a huge crowd this year, and raised vital, record-breaking funds for the organization. Since 1963, SEO has been helping underserved students gain admission to colleges and universities around the country, and has become a model organization for other mentorship-based initiatives. The continued dedication of philanthropists who deeply believe in SEO founder Michael Osheowitz’s vision is what has helped the nonprofit to thrive for more than fifty years.

According to SEO Scholars, “Over 1,000 guests joined us at Cipriani Wall Street on April 30 to celebrate SEO and welcome our new chairman Mr. Henry R. Kravis. Honorees General (Ret.) Stanley A. McChrystal, Walter K. Booker and Roger W. Ferguson were joined by dinner chair Doug McGregor,” of the prominent, powerful guests in attendance. Henry Kravis, co-chairman of KKR, became the chairman of SEO in January, and made a point to call the organization “one of the best kept secrets anywhere” in his speech at the recent event. Kravis is one of many passionate individuals who helped to raise a record $2.4 million for the nonprofit at the recent Awards Dinner.

Funds generated from the annual Awards Dinner will go towards afterschool and weekend mentorship programs to benefit the underserved youth of SEO, as all as supporting SEO scholars who have gone on to college. “We believe that education can break the cycle of poverty” and “that America’s economic future depends on ensuring that students from all walks of life get the education they need to make a substantial contribution to society,” explains the passionate organization. With an ongoing commitment to providing access to educational resources to those who don’t have it, coupled with new leadership from Kravis, SEO will likely expand to other parts of the country in hopes of touching the lives of even more young people.

Learn more about SEO Scholars by visiting

Organizations Resources

Helen Keller International Receives Annual Henry Kravis Prize in Leadership

Helen Keller International
IMG: via Helen Keller International

Earlier this month, Claremont McKenna College announced that Helen Keller International, an organization whose mission is to fight against preventable blindness globally, would be honored with the 2014 Henry R. Kravis Prize in Leadership. The prize, named for Claremont McKenna alumna Henry Kravis, was established in 2006 to recognize an outstanding leader in the nonprofit sector annually.

According to Claremont McKenna College, “the Henry R. Kravis Prize in Leadership conducts a rigorous due diligence and selection process to choose an annual recipient. A formal Award Ceremony celebrates the recipient’s accomplishments and $250,000 is directed to a nonprofit organization designated by the recipient,” of the process implemented for determining a Prize recipient. More than just honoring a successful nonprofit and providing them with vital funds and exposure, the Kravis Prize seeks to share that organization’s best practices with others, in hopes of bolstering the efforts of other nonprofits. Past recipients include Johann Olav Koss, mothers2mothers, Soraya Salti, Pratham, and other charitable leaders and innovators.

Helen Keller International (HKI) is the ninth annual recipient of the Prize, and is extremely representative of the kind of organization that Henry Kravis and Claremont McKenna are proud to recognize. Founded in 1915 by Helen Keller and George Kessler, HKI is reportedly among the oldest nonprofit organizations dedicated to preventing blindness and malnutrition on a global level. Based in New York, HKI works in 22 countries around the world, as well as at home, specifically providing at-risk youth free vision screenings and prescription glasses. HKI seeks to aid the most vulnerable communities that would have no access to vision correction otherwise.

For more information about HKI and the annual Henry R. Kravis Prize in Leadership, visit Claremont McKenna’s official Prize page.

Organizations Profiles

The Partnership for New York City

Partners for New York
IMG: via Shutterstock

Partnership for New York City is an organization that works to advance the local economy by connecting like-minded leaders in business. NYC is known for being one of the most prolific hubs for world commerce, finance, and innovation, and it’s the group’s duty to maintain this reputation.

The goal of the organization is to help create jobs, improve economically troubled communities, and to help start new businesses. The Partnership for New York City is a “nonprofit membership organization comprised of a select group of two hundred CEOs” from the city’s most notable corporate, investment, and entrepreneurial firms.

Notable Partners from the Board of Directors include Lazard CEO and Chairman Kenneth Jacobs, Lisa S. Sanford of IBM Corporation, Henry Kravis, CEO of Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts &Co., Sherilyn McCoy, CEO of Avon Products Inc., and Founding Chairman David Rockefeller.

To read more about The Partnership for New York City and Lazard’s CEO, Kenneth Jacobs, check out our profiles!

Organizations Resources

A Shot at the Ivy Leagues

Ivy League
IMG: via Shutterstock

New York City is a hotbed for creative, talented minorities who may never make it out of Brooklyn.  This is a shame because everyone else could benefit from their immense talent.  The problem is that there are not enough resources to supplement ordinary schooling.

A Harvard and Stanford study that came out this year emphasized the inadequacy of how low-income students are represented at selective colleges and universities.  What it showed was that “only 34 percent of the highest-achieving high-school seniors whose families fell in the bottom quarter of income distribution – versus 78 percent in the top quarter – attended one of the country’s most selective colleges, based on a list of nearly 250 schools compiled by Barron’s.”

However, the good news is that there are scouts in New York City seeking out the best and brightest.  In 1978, Gary Simons, a teacher from the Bronx, founded Prep for Prep.  His goal was to find talented students of color and prepare them to go to private schools.  So far, hundreds of his students have gone on to law, medicine, and business schools and work at some of the most prestigious firms.

Feeling that Prep for Prep was not enough, Simons and others later founded Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America, or LEDA.  Their aim was to seek out and advance the best students from public high schools from around the country regardless of race.  Yet, almost all the students come from families who earn less than $55,000 per year.

Another popular program is Sponsors for Educational Opportunities, or S.E.O., whose mission is to provide “supe­rior edu­ca­tional and career pro­grams to young peo­ple from under-­served com­mu­ni­ties to max­i­mize their oppor­tu­ni­ties for col­lege and career success.”

When you look at the success rate of students who have attended programs LEDA and S.E.O., you can see why wealthy donors would want to contribute funding.  Recently Henry Kravis pledged $4 million in matching funds to S.E.O., which must have surely been a happy surprise.

The training they provide goes side-by-side with regular schooling to give exceptional students a shot at success.  S.E.O. was started by Manhattan lawyers and advertising executives over 50 years ago, yet it is still as successful as ever.

Organizations Profiles

United Water and KKR Give Little League a Chance

Little league
IMG: via United Water

Who can forget the devastating images of Hurricane Sandy?  Homes and businesses were torn apart and the emotional toll was even higher than monetary value.   It can be difficult to rebuild and get a fresh start with damages in the millions.

However, United Water and its financial partner Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) recently donated $50,000 to Bayonne Little League to help restore facilities that were damaged during the storm. The money was presented at Little League Family Day which was sponsored by both companies at the Little League complex.

Part of the reason they chose to donate to this particular cause was that it was for the kids.  They wanted to give the children hope for their team.  The playing fields, office, concession stand and bathrooms were all inundated and damaged by tidal waters during the storm.

United Water often provides assistance to community organizations that are in need.  According to Chris Riat, senior director of NJ contract operations for United Water, “We chose the Bayonne Little League because of the outstanding impact it has had on the city’s youth over the years and the countless hours spent by the volunteers who run the organization. We are proud to be of assistance.”

“With United Water and KKR’s assistance, we are able to restore the Little League facilities and continue to provide an enriching experience for the children in Bayonne,” said Joe Spengler, commissioner of the Bayonne Little League. “We are grateful for their contribution and support.”

KKR is a global investment firm that works with companies and investment partners around the world “to deliver flexible capital solutions.” Henry Kravis is the co-founder and co-CEO of KKR.  According to the website, KKR is “a global investor with a long-term horizon.  KKR makes…decisions that can have an enormous impact: millions of individuals depend upon [us for]…quality of life.”

Organizations Resources

Wall Street Fights Back Against Melanoma

One of the best ways to make a foundation successful is to find a generous group of donors to help support it—and that’s just what the Melanoma Research Alliance has done. Debra Black was diagnosed with Stage 2 melanoma in 2007, and after her successful recovery she and her husband, Leon, founded the MRA.

Mr. Black is the famed founder of private equity firm Apollo Global Management, a venture that has made him into a billionaire. But his wife’s diagnosis served as a “real wake-up call,” reminding them both that cancer can strike anyone, anytime. Debra was lucky and has made a full recovery without any remissions, but through the process, the Blacks discovered that not much was actually known about melanoma.

“This was a field, as we learned, that really did not have a lot of momentum six years ago,” Black said, pointing out that at one time a diagnosis of melanoma was almost certain death. “Our hope is to be out of business in the next five years.”

But with no knowledge on how to actually run a cancer foundation, the Blacks had to turn to a friend for support: Michael Milken. His success in the medical research world and his many connections made him a prime support figure throughout the formation of MRA.

“Would you like to do in melanoma what I’ve been able to do with prostate cancer?” he reportedly asked Black.

With the combined network of the Blacks and Mr. Milken, that proposal has become a reality. Black is big on Wall Street, and has recruited many big names to the cause, including Jeff Rowbottom and Henry Kravis of KKR, Brendan Dillon of UBS, and Glenn R. August of Oak Hill Advisors. Last year, the annual benefit raised around $925,000.

“In a very cynical world Wall Street is viewed as just wanting to make money, but that is not the truth,” said Black after last year’s benefit. “Wall Street has funded so many hospitals in this city, there is the Robin Hood Foundation, and many other philanthropic efforts.”


Robin Hood Foundation Gala Raises Over $80M

jessica biel robin hood gala
IMG: Helga Esteb via Shutterstock

On Monday, May 13th, the Robin Hood Foundation hosted a gala to raise money to help fight poverty in New York City. Over the course of the evening, the foundation raised over $80 million. The event was chock-full of celebrities, business leaders, and other well-known faces, many of them donating significant amounts of money to the cause.

Mary J. Blige, Bono, Elton John, and Brian Williams were among the entertainment for the night, as were comedians Louis C.K. and Jerry Seinfeld. Newlyweds Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel also attended the event, stopping to chat with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Paul Simon and Sting performed together on stage.

In 2011 the event raised about $47 million. In 2012, that number was beat by an impressive haul of $59 million. This year’s $80 million knocks both those numbers out of the water. The event was co-chaired by Timberlake and Biel, as well as by Paul Tudor Jones II and his wife Sonia; Henry Kravis and his wife Marie-Josee; and Leslie Moonves and his wife Julie Chen.

This event certainly isn’t the first time the Robin Hood Foundation has brought in big names, though. Last December, the foundation put on a benefit concert entitled “12-12-12,” with proceeds going to victims of Hurricane Sandy. Musicians like Bruce Springsteen and the Rolling Stones performed at the concert.

Funds raised and distributed by the Robin Hood Foundation have been used to install libraries at public schools in NYC, feed homeless and hungry New Yorkers, provide for victims of 9/11, and support victims of Superstorm Sandy—to name a few.

Read our profile of Henry Kravis here.