This year's fundraising total was boosted by a $15 million challenge grant from the Bezos Family Foundation — whose president, Jackie Bezos, serves on the Robin Hood board — and Overdeck Family Foundation in support of the Metropolis of Early Learning, an initiative that aims to enlist the help of parents, grandparents, and caregivers in improving toddlers' school readiness. Robin Hood plans to spend $50 million over five years on the program while continuing to support job training, food pantries, and homeless shelters in the city, said David Saltzman, the organization's executive director.
Saltzman noted that school readiness can help reduce those and other needs by boosting children's educational outcomes, which in turn can help them avoid poverty later in life. "Early childhood programs pack a poverty-fighting wallop and that's why we want to support them," he added.
While the total raised at this year's gala was down from the $101 million raised by the organization in 2015, when the Pershing Square Foundation and an anonymous donor donated $25 million each, it exceeds the total raised in 2014, when stock market conditions were less volatile.
"We've weathered all the different points of economic cycles," Saltzman told Bloomberg. "What I've found to be truly remarkable about our donors is at the toughest times they continue to be generous, because they know they've been blessed by good fortune and they still want to be generous to others."