All of us have heard the story of Robin Hood. Robin Hood became a popular folk figure starting in medieval times continuing through modern literature, films, and television. A highly skilled archer and swordsman, he is known for “robbing from the rich and giving to the poor,” assisted by a group of fellow outlaws known as his “Merry Men.”
The Robin Hood Foundation, formed in 1988 by a successful hedge fund manager, applies this idea, of taking from the rich and giving to the poor, to help fight poverty in New York City. The board of Directors (the Merry Men) totes some of the most influential names in our society; from NBC President and CEO Jeff Zucker to Gwyneth Paltrow to many of the leaders in the financial industries. Power, knowledge and resources combine to run, and more impressively, to underwrite all administrative costs of the foundation so that 100% of every dollar donated goes directly to help those in need.
Robin Hood was a pioneer in what is now called venture philanthropy, or charity that embraces free-market forces. An early practitioner of using metrics to measure the effectiveness of grants, it applies sound investment principles to philanthropy. In doing so, the foundation has helped to save lives and change fates.
Robin Hood targets poverty by identifying and attacking the main source. That’s why Robin Hood focuses on poverty prevention through programs in early childhood, youth, education, jobs and economic security. And while prevention is the under lying goal, there are people who are currently living in poverty, so they also fund basic survival programs in healthcare, hunger, housing and domestic violence.
Last night I had the honor of attending Robin Hood’s annual gala which was held at the Jacob Javits Center. Being part of such an incredible movement was inspiring. Being in a room that raised just over $88 million in the span of one evening is an experience you can’t imagine. While it is easy to point fingers at Wall Street, especially after recent events, it is hard to ignore the generosity and good will of so many. I was reminded how fortunate I am to have been raised by strong and supportive parents. They worked hard for their success and taught me to do the same. While my bank account and list of accomplishments pales in comparison to many of the other people in the room, I certainly have a lot more to my name, and have experienced a lot more in my 27 years, than many other New Yorkers.
So I thank my parents and family members for providing me with the education and tools to succeed. I promise to make more of an effort to remember this “not so little thing” every day.