Billionaire hedge fund manager Ken Griffin leaves Chicago with a philanthropic drive.
Griffin, who is moving with his investment firm Citadel to Miami, awarded more than $130 million in parting gifts to 40 Chicago organizations in June, hoping to provide a funding bridge as they seek to replace his charitable contributions.
The University of Chicago is the largest recipient with $30 million, including an accelerated payment of $15 million from a prior commitment. Other major donations include $25 million to Northwestern Medicine, $20 million to the Field Museum, and $10 million each to the Museum of Science and Industry and the Fourth Presbyterian Church.
June’s donation spree has sparked both praise for Griffin and concern about how the city will fill the civic and philanthropic void as Illinois’ wealthiest man makes Florida his home.
“His generosity will not be replaced,” said Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation, a Chicago-based government finance watchdog organization. “Civic institutions, charities and cultural institutions, will have to look to other sources, and reach out to much more diverse people to raise the same amount of money he had contributed to their cause.”
Last month, Griffin told employees that Citadel would be moving to a new headquarters in Miami’s financial district after more than 30 years in Chicago. The company, which has about 1,000 employees in Chicago, will keep an office in the city, but many are expected to move to the Sunshine State, where Griffin, a Florida native, recently moved with his family.
Launched in Chicago in 1990, Griffin has grown Citadel into one of the largest hedge funds in the world, with $51 billion in assets under management.
Griffin, who is worth $27 billion, has become a civic force with his company, donating more than $600 million to Chicago organizations such as the Art Institute, Museum of Contemporary Art and Museum of Science and Industry, who announced it. would be renamed in his honor after donating $125 million in 2019.
Overall, he has donated over $1.5 billion to organizations across the United States.
“The amazing thing about Ken is that he’s been generous since he got his way,” said Jim Crown, 69, president and CEO of Henry Crown & Co., the Chicago-based private investment. “He became more and more generous as he became more successful.”
Crown, who sits on the boards of the University of Chicago and the Museum of Science and Industry, said Griffin has shared his wealth in “real time” with a wide range of causes intended to benefit society. city where he made his fortune.
But Griffin, 53, has also been an increasingly harsh critic of the city in recent years. In an appearance before the Economic Club of Chicago in October, Griffin cited rising crime as one of the main reasons Citadel and co-owned trading company Citadel Securities were moving to relocate the business.
A major political donor, Griffin contributed $50 million to support Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin’s failed campaign to win the nomination as the Republican gubernatorial candidate in the Illinois primary last month. .
Griffin’s decision to donate an additional $130 million to Chicago charities while leaving the city is “admirable and rare,” Crown said.
“If someone leaves, out of displeasure, to use a sweet word, you wouldn’t expect them to have one last outpouring of philanthropy for Chicago,” Crown said. “The normal thing most people would do is show up with philanthropy where you’re coming from, to establish yourself there.”
Organizations that each received a $5 million donation in June include Lurie Children’s Hospital, Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, Museum of Contemporary Art, Art Institute of Chicago and first recipient Project HOOD, a nonprofit organization southside profit center focused on ending the cycle of poverty, violence and incarceration.
Although his gifts have been varied, probably Griffin’s most enduring legacy in Chicago is the Museum of Science and Industry. Five years after receiving Griffin’s gift of $125 million – the largest in its nearly 90-year history – the South Side institution is set to take its benefactor’s name in January 2024.
“It will be called the Kenneth C. Griffin Museum of Science and Industry,” said Chevy Humphrey, who became the first black woman president and CEO of the Museum of Science and Industry the year last.
Humphrey said the museum will change its logo, change its website and add new signage with Griffin’s name outside the historic building, which was built for the Columbian Exposition in 1893.
When the donation was announced in 2019, museum president David Mosena said the official name change would take “a year or more.” Humphrey said it “takes a long time” to rename an organization, but the extended timeline was in place before he arrived in January 2021.
Despite relocating to Florida, Humphrey believes Griffin won’t let go of the museum that will soon bear his name and stop supporting him, citing June’s $10 million donation as proof.
“When he’s committed to an organization, I think those commitments are strong,” Humphrey said. “We will continue to work closely with him throughout the name change and beyond.”