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Darren Walker: Philanthropy Aimed at the Wealth Gap
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Ford Foundation21/25

Darren Walker: Philanthropy Aimed at the Wealth Gap

The nation's major philanthropies have long operated by noblesse oblige, seeking to blunt the sharp edges of capitalism by funding programs that sustain the poor. Under the leadership of Darren Walker, the Ford Foundation is taking a different tack. "In philanthropy we must move from a perspective of generosity to a perspective of justice," Walker told a conference in Stockholm in October. "We need to look at the root causes of injustice, of poverty, of climate change." Walker began his career redeveloping housing in Harlem, then spearheaded the Rockefeller Foundation's rebuilding programs in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Now leading the nation's third-largest foundation, with a $12 billion endowment, he is pioneering a model of disruptive philanthropy, targeting the causes of inequality. In April, he announced a $1 billion investment in socially beneficial businesses, including builders of affordable housing in the U.S. and companies expanding credit in the developing world. "We are putting a significant amount of our money," Walker said, "where our mission is." TD