David Rubenstein has a hefty $3.1 billion fortune thanks to his financial success in the world of private equity. He started the Carlyle Group — which is one of the largest private equity firms in the world — and is now known for his financial insights and business acumen. He is also one of the wealthiest people in America.
But Rubenstein wasn’t always this rich, and he certainly didn’t grow up in a wealthy world. Neither of his parents graduated from college; in fact, they didn’t even finish high school! His father was a post-office worker and his small house in Baltimore reflected those modest means.
It is because of these small-time roots that Rubenstein never forgets where his life all began. He is among a group of billionaires, including Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, who have agreed to give away the majority of their wealth before they die as part of The Giving Pledge.
The National Zoo’s panda program was in critical condition back in 2011. When only 1500 pandas were left, Rubenstein was inspired and contributed $4.5 million to help kickstart fundraising for the giant panda reproduction program. The panda complex has since been named after him in honor of his efforts.
Rubenstein has consistently donated to help benefit Duke University, his alma mater. His philanthropic contributions have helped to improve Duke athletics and Duke’s special collections library, and he has generously donated to fund undergraduate internships and graduate fellowships.
A great deal of Rubenstein’s philanthropy has gone to admirable patriotic causes, including the purchase of the last privately owned copy of the Magna Carta. He bought the document for $21.3 million, and then lent it to the National Archives for professional preservation and increased public access. He then donated another $13.5 million to help the National Archives upgrade their visitor center and install a new gallery.
Rubenstein’s philanthropic donations have also helped pave the way for multi-million dollar Washington Monument repairs and costly renovations from the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. When the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts kicked off a $125 million fundraising campaign to expand its campus and programs in arts education, Rubenstein led those efforts with a $50 million donation. The gift made Rubenstein the center’s largest donor in its entire history.
David Rubenstein currently serves as chairman for the JFK Center for the Performing Arts in addition to his role as Managing Director of the Carlyle Group.
To see the original article that John Jellinek cited see here.