Salisbury, NC

The Salisbury billionaire giving away his fortune

Ash Jurberg

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I write many articles on business leaders, entrepreneurs, and billionaires.

And when I do, I get messages from readers asking what these people do to give back to the community. So today, I thought we could take a quick look at the billionaire who grew up in Salisbury, North Carolina, and has promised to give most of his fortune away.

The Salisbury billionaire

Julian Robertson was born in Salisbury, North Carolina, in 1932.

After graduating from the University of North Carolina in 1955, he joined the Navy, where he served for two years. He then worked in finance before launching his own business, a hedge fund called Tiger Management, in 1980.

Robertson grew Tiger Management, and by 1998, it had $22 billion in assets. Robertson considered one of the pioneers of modern hedge funds, closed Tiger in 2000 to focus on supporting and financing up-and-coming hedge fund managers.

His successful career has led Robertson to accumulate a net worth of $4.8 billion. And, inspired by his parents and the town of Salisbury, he has promised to give most of it away.

My parents and their friends in the little town in North Carolina where I grew up were always very philanthropic. They wanted our schools to be the best they could be, and they worked hard to get them that way. They worked on our parks. They worked with the local hospital to make it the best. We had two local colleges, Livingstone and Catawba—one black, one white—and the townspeople were supportive of both.

Philanthropy

Robertson is committed to philanthropy. He has signed the Giving Pledge, a public promise to give most of his fortune away while he is still alive.

"One very fortunate thing is that I did not get nearly as enthusiastic about philanthropy early on as I am now; if I had there would be very little to give away. I have found so many great new projects to work with just in the last several years: the national parks, the families of our military, stem cells, and now obesity."

And his actions have backed his words.

Robertson founded the Robertson Foundation in 1996. The Foundation makes grants in education, environment, and medical research. Since 1996, it has given away over $1.3 billion.

Some of the organizations that have benefited from donations include:

  • the Environmental Defense Fund
  • New York Stem Cell Foundation
  • Success Academy Charter Schools
  • Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Robertson and his wife also established the Robertson Scholars program. The program aims to increase collaboration between Duke University and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and offers full scholarships to students across the two campuses.

Robertson also established the Blanche and Julian Robertson Family Foundation. This foundation helps programs and causes that serve the city of Salisbury in honor of the town he grew up in. The mission of the foundation is "improving life in Salisbury."

In the past 20 years, the foundation has awarded more than $36 million in grants to 156 organizations and agencies.

Readers, what do you think of Julian Robertson's story? And what organizations in Salisbury or North Carolina would you like him to support?

Please leave your comments below.

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