May 9, 2013
Modern-Day Robin Hood Paul Tudor Jones on the Importance of Philanthropy Strategy
Jones began his philanthropy journey in 1986, when he was in his early 30s. Inspired by a 60 Minutes report, he adopted a class of Bedford Stuyvesant sixth-graders as part of the "I Have a Dream" Program: He would pay for their college tuition if they graduated from high school. Bedford Stuyvesant was one of New York City's toughest neighborhoods, but Jones was up for the challenge. "My 'I Have a Dream' class started out as this incredible model of energy, resource, investment, and love," Jones says, who himself was recently profiled for 60 minutes. For example, he took the students on ski trips, and he took them on a trip to Africa. "We did every kind of field trip you could imagine, and I was involved with them in their homes, and I was going over their report cards with them." And then he found out his efforts were not achieving the desired goals.
[Related: Three Strategies for Creating Effective Philanthropy Alongside an Active Career.]
About five years into Jones's involvement, a Harvard researcher asked to study the student's progress as part of an overall assessment of the 'I Have a Dream" Program. Jones says they measured metrics such as class attendance, dropout rates, teenage pregnancies, and college attendance. He says that his program excelled in the area of college enrollment: There were three times as many people enrolling in college as what had statistically been the case for that demographic, an occurrence he attributes to the offer of scholarship money he provided. But that was one of the only metrics about which he could boast.
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In 2009, Jones even described this experience in a commencement address to the Buckley School's graduating ninth-graders on the subject of failure. For Jones, as for many remarkable philanthropists, failure provides rich lessons. "The most important thing is you’ve got to have a process that you know is going to work," he says. "You’re not going to achieve your goal if you don’t have a great way to get there and know exactly what the road’s going to look like."
Paul Tudor Jones' Key Messages for Philanthropists
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