In Philanthropy: Ken Griffin Donates $9M Toward Miami Schools and More

The Citadel head is bringing a University of Chicago-backed program to Miami.

Man in suit speaks at panel with blue background behind him
Ken Griffin. Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

From a record-breaking donation to expand Belmont University’s presence in Nashville’s Music Row to a $10 million gift toward arts initiatives at Carnegie Mellon, these are some of the most notable developments in the philanthropic world.

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Ken Griffin gives $9 million for math tutoring in Miami

Billionaire Ken Griffin is gifting $9 million to bring math tutoring programs to students at Miami-Dade County Public Schools. The initiative will focus on filling in education gaps caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Every child can succeed when they receive support tailored to their unique educational needs, interests and aspirations,” said Griffin in a statement. “By investing in personalized learning, Miami-Dade County Public Schools can empower students to reach their full potential and prepare them for success in an increasingly complex and dynamic world.”

The pandemic lost U.S. students an average of a half year of learning, according to the Miami school district—a statistic that rises for children from low-income backgrounds. With Griffin’s funding, a high-impact math tutoring program will be applied across nine Miami-Dade County Public Schools for students in grades six through eight through a partnership with the University of Chicago’s Education Lab and the nonprofit Accelerate. The three-year partnership is expected to benefit thousands of students.

Griffin is the head of hedge fund Citadel and has an estimated net worth of $36.2 billion. Previously based in Chicago, he donated $125 million to the University of Chicago’s economics department in 2017. He’s largely directed his philanthropic efforts towards Miami since moving to the city in 2022, having given $20 million to Miami Dade College in 2023 and $50 million towards a cancer center at the University of Miami earlier this year.

Carnegie Mellon University receives $10 million for the arts from Tod and Cindy Johnson

A couple poses in front of multicolored screen
Tod and Cindy Johnson Courtesy Carnegie Mellon University

Tod and Cindy Johnson, an art-loving couple who met and married while attending Carnegie Mellon University, are giving back to their alma mater to the tune of $10 million. Their donation will focus on enhancing various arts initiatives at the Pittsburgh school.

Half of the gift is earmarked to create the Tod and Cindy Johnson Endowment for Public Art, which will support new acquisitions and programming. The school’s robust public art program recently saw the campus installations of works by Jessica Stockholder and Stephanie Dinkins, with plans to unveil a new piece by Amanda Ross-Ho later this month.

The remaining $5 million will support a new expansion and home for the school’s Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) Pittsburgh, which will be housed within the Richard King Mellon Hall of Sciences. Construction on the building, which is expected to open its doors by 2027, began earlier this month. In recognition of the Johnsons’ gift, a public art curating position and gallery in the new ICA Pittsburgh will be named in their honor.

Cindy, an arts patron and philanthropist, and Tod, co-founder of New York-based firm Duo Partners and a prominent supporter of New York’s Met Opera, have been longtime patrons of Carnegie Mellon. In addition to establishing numerous professorships and supporting its Purnell Center for the Arts, the duo in 2018 gave the school $50 million to help endow undergraduate scholarships.

“Carnegie Mellon has been a special place for Cindy and me since we met as students,” said Tod in a statement. “In fact, Cindy earned her fine arts degree from what was then Carnegie Tech, deepening our love and appreciation for the arts, which has been a passion throughout our lives.”

Music executive Mike Curb gives a record-breaking $58 million to Belmont University

Man in suit speaks at podium
Mike Curb. Rebecca Sapp/WireImage

Belmont University, a Nashville-based school with an entertainment and music business program that spawned stars like Brad Paisley and Florida Georgia Line, just received its largest-ever philanthropic gift. A $58 million donation from music executive Mike Curb will support the university’s expansion in the city’s Music Row district.

Phase one of the project will will add 17,000 square feet of songwriting rooms, listening spaces, live sound classrooms and student lounges to Belmont’s Buddy Lee Attractions/Capital Records building . The second phase, meanwhile, includes the development of a 75,000-square-foot facility in Nashville’s Music Row.

Construction on the new building is expected to commence in the next two years, with plans to integrate a performance venue, networking spaces and content capture rooms. An additional fundraising campaign for the initiative was launched by Belmont this month to build upon Curb’s lead gift.

“As Nashville’s music industry has grown and evolved into an international entertainment hub, it’s crucial that our education system keeps pace to develop skilled talent,” said Curb in a statement. “With this latest investment, we’ll build upon that strong foundation to push entertainment and music business education ahead to the next level, ensuring a steady stream of well-prepared professionals for the ever-growing industry.”

Curb is the founder and chairman of Curb Records, a label that has represented the likes of Roy Orbison, Sammy Davis Jr. and Gloria Gaynor. He has long been a significant supporter of Belmont, with previous gifts including a 40-year lease in 2014 for a property in Music Row.

In Philanthropy: Ken Griffin Donates $9M Toward Miami Schools and More