$150-million gift to Stanford aimed at reducing poverty


Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business has been given $150 million by an alumnus and his wife to establish an institute dedicated to helping developing economies and reducing poverty around the world.

The gift, which the university will announce Friday, is from Robert King, who earned a master’s degree in business administration from in 1960 and became a successful Silicon Valley investor, and his wife, Dorothy. University officials described it as the second largest single publicly disclosed gift to Stanford, topped only by a $400-million donation from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in 2001.

The Kings’ donation will start the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies, which will seek to stimulate and spread research and management techniques for healthcare, transportation, agriculture, banking, communications and other sectors in poor countries. Faculty and students are expected to work in the field to support local groups in Africa, Asia, Latin America and other regions.


“We believe that innovation and entrepreneurship are the engines of growth to lift people out of poverty,” Robert King, 76, said in a statement. The Kings previously established the Thrive Foundation for Youth, a charity that helps support organizations that aid American youth, ages 10 to 17, and their parents.

The Stanford donation is further evidence in the last year that, despite recession fears, wealthy donors remain willing to make mega-size donations to colleges and universities. Among other California schools, USC received three nine-figure gifts this year and UCLA two.