No. 3 on this year’s list: John and Laura Arnold, both in their 30s, who gave away a total of $423 million, including $251.2 to their Laura and John Arnold Foundation in Houston and the rest to other groups. Among their causes: charter schools, a push for merit pay for teachers, efforts to curb false eyewitness identification, and research to spur lawmakers to firm up government pension programs. They also launched the Giving Library, a collection of videos featuring more than 250 charities, to help other philanthropists learn about non profits.
A foundation has announced plans to award $15 million to strengthen teacher recruitment and retention in the greater New Orleans area and increase the flow of information to parents about how they can choose the best school for their children.
The Laura and John Arnold Foundation is providing grants to 10 organizations to work in the Recovery School District and other schools in the area. The spending is just the first step in what will be continued investment by the foundation over time, said Caprice Young, the philanthropy's vice president for education.
An ambitious research program dubbed “the Manhattan Project of nutrition” by one of its founders launches Wednesday in San Diego with a goal of ending fad diets and curbing America’s obesity epidemic.
The Nutrition Science Initiative is a shot across the bow of conventional wisdom, arguing that much of what people believe to be true about what makes people fat is not grounded in rigorous research. So it plans to coordinate and fund some.
“Eat less, exercise more — the approach of the mainstream has been to pull that lever, over and over, and when it doesn’t work, to pull it harder,” said Dr. Peter Attia, the program’s 39-year-old president and co-founder. “What we’re saying is, ‘Let’s do a reset on that.’ Let’s look at the science.”
Luisa Kroll, Forbes Staff
Hedge fund titan John Arnold shocked the investment world in May when he announced he was retiring at age 38. “After seventeen years as an energy trader, I feel that it’s time to pursue other interests,” wrote the former Enron trader who was one of the industry’s best performers over the past decade.
At the time Forbes speculated that Arnold, who signed the Giving Pledge with his wife Laura in 2010 and whose foundation had assets of $711 million, according to a 2010 filing with the IRS, might devote more of his time to philanthropy.
In the movie Moneyball, Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt) learned that the key to building a successful baseball team on a shoestring budget was deceptively simple: When signing a hitter, the crucial statistic was his on-base percentage. This flew in the face of the conventional wisdom that only an experienced scout could adequately size-up a player and pluck successful contributors from the bargain bin. But crunching the numbers revealed that paying a premium for a big-name player with lots of home runs was an expensive, ineffective way to build a team.
Michigan's school pension system is unlikely to be fully funded while operating under the state's current assumptions about pension funding, according to a new memo from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.
Unless the issues are addressed, the state will not set aside enough money to pay for teachers and other school employees' pensions as they are earned, the Texas-based foundation said in the memo it authored for legislators.
The recent elections defying the recall of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and enacting pension reform in the cities of San Jose and San Diego have been cast as referenda on public employee unions. But this misses the deeper unifying theme - the necessity of bipartisan government reform to fix state and local budgetary shortfalls.
Nobody who doesn't wear a number on their back retires at 38.
Laid off, maybe. Pushed out, certainly. But voluntary departure from an occupation that has brought both a fortune and a national profile simply is not done.
Nothing along the path John Arnold had followed for almost two decades suggested he would reach this spot at this moment - this headline-grabbing decision to walk away from Centaurus Energy, the centerpiece of which was a successful hedge fund that he managed. Perhaps the country's most celebrated energy trader, Arnold was supposed to keep applying his skills, turn the several billion dollars he had earned into many more billions, use that mother lode for ever increasing access and power, become a figure of greater national prominence and speculation, finally to emerge as the paterfamilias of a new name on the roster of American aristocracy.
But he had a simpler idea: To hell with all that.