Ken Griffin Joins Dan Loeb, John Paulson in Donating to Success Academy

(Bloomberg) -- Ken Griffin is chipping in $10 million to open new middle schools in Brooklyn and Queens.

Ken Griffin Joins Dan Loeb, John Paulson in Donating to Success Academy

The gift from Citadel’s founder and chief executive officer is the latest influx of hedge-fund money into Success Academy Charter Schools. Dan Loeb, Julian Robertson, John Paulson and Boaz Weinstein have all previously given to the network as founder and CEO Eva Moskowitz pushes for expansion to 100 schools by 2030. This year it operates 47 schools serving kindergarten to 12th grade students.

“I’m excited to support the work of one of the highest-achieving school networks in the country,” Griffin, 50, said. “Success Academy has driven extraordinary outcomes for students and created an outstanding model for other schools to follow.”

Success Academy’s 13 middle schools ranked in the top 3 percent in English and top 2 percent in math on the most recent statewide tests, according to Success Academy. Their students won laurels in national championships for debate and chess last year.

“We share a vision of the future for our nation, where every child has access to a great school,” Moskowitz said in the statement.

Brooklyn School

Ken Griffin Joins Dan Loeb, John Paulson in Donating to Success Academy

Griffin’s funds will help open the 14th Success Academy middle school in August 2019 in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, paying for desks, chairs, laptops and faculty. It also will fund existing schools and two other middle schools, in Queens and Brooklyn, that are waiting for a response from the Department of Education on space in underused public school buildings, according to the statement.

Middle school can be a critical time for academic development: In New York City, eighth-graders who graduated from high-performing middle schools were twice as likely to enroll in college, according to research by Success Academy based on city and state education data. Yet only 43 out of the city’s nearly 500 middle schools have an average pass rate of at least 75 percent on English and math exams, according to the New York City education department website.

Union Backlash

Some hedge fund titans have drawn the ire of unions for supporting charter schools. Five years ago, the American Federation of Teachers put Loeb on a watch list of money managers who support groups the union considered hostile to traditional public employee pensions. In 2015, the New York City Employees’ Retirement System voted against investing with Joel Greenblatt’s Gotham Asset Management after municipal employees expressed concerns over the firm’s response to questions about charter schools.

Griffin ranks 153rd on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index with a net worth of $8.8 billion. His donations for the arts and education include $150 million to alma mater Harvard University for need-based financial aid, $125 million to University of Chicago’s economics department, and $40 million to the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Growing up in Boca Raton, Florida, he attended public high school. “My parents bribed me," Griffin said in February when accepting an award from the Museum of American Finance. “My mom wanted me to be in a public school, she wanted me to have the experience of dealing with a very diverse student base and she said, ‘If you go to public school, I’ll buy you a personal computer,’ and I made that trade in a heartbeat.”

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