Robertson Foundation




Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2015):

Revenue: $125,739,923
Expenses: $117,140,962
Assets: $583,803,334




Julia Bator

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Also see Blanche and Julian Robertson Family Foundation (nonprofit)

The Robertson Foundation is a foundation created by hedge fund investor Julian H. Robertson, Jr. and his wife, Josie Robertson. It is not to be confused with the Robertson Foundation for Government, a nonprofit that is the successor to the Robertson Foundation, a supporting organization of Princeton University that was dissolved in 2009. It is a financial supporter of numerous environmentalist groups, most prominently the Environmental Defense Fund, of which Robertson, Jr. is a board member.

The Robertson Foundation distributed more than $100 million per year between 2012 and 2018. In 2019, the Robertsons effectively stopped contributing to the foundation, though it still issued more than $86 million in grants that year and more than $90 million in 2020.1 In August 2022, Julian Robertson passed away and the foundation announced that it would be “reviewing its strategy” for future grantmaking activities.2


Julian H. Robertson, Jr. made his fortune through the Tiger Management hedge fund, which was dissolved in 2000. In 1990, he created the Tiger Foundation to encourage the partners of the fund to be active donors. “I count the Tiger Foundation as the most successful venture I have had a hand in starting,” Robertson said in his statement endorsing The Giving Pledge.34 However, a 2007 analysis of the Tiger Foundation from Bridgespan states that Julian Robertson ceased playing an active role in the Tiger Foundation in 1997.5

Robertson set up two foundations in the late 1990s. The Blanche and Julian Robertson Family Foundation, founded in 1997 and named for Julian H. Robertson, Jr.’s parents, is a foundation supporting charities in Salisbury, North Carolina.6

Areas of Interest

Robertson Scholars Program

The Robertson Scholars Program is a scholarship program that allows students to jointly attend the University of North Carolina and Duke University, and received $8 million from the Robertson Foundation in 2015. The program was begun with $12 million grants to the two schools in 2000, and has continued with annual donations since then. According to Robertson’s biographer, Daniel A. Strachtman, the program began when Robertson realized “that these two schools are about nine miles apart, and there has really not been much interaction between the two schools except a legendary sports rivalry. He believes that by encouraging interaction between the two schools, a community will emerge between the institutions that is something more that who wins or loses a basketball game.”7

Environmentalist Programs

The foundation’s environmental programs began when Robertson met Fred Krupp, who has been president of the Environmental Defense Fund since 1984. In his Giving Pledge statement, Robertson said that he worked with Krupp in an effort to pass “a bill pushing the toughest auto emissions standards ever imposed…. Fred and I went to work, and with just a little lobbying money, and a lot of help from a friend in California, got me the three votes needed to pass the bill. This was a huge thrill for me personally. The California bill became the model that thirteen states adopted and eventually became the national standard for autos.”:8

Julian Robertson is currently a member of the EDF board, and EDF received $19.3 million from the Robertson Foundation in 2015. In 2015 the Robertson Foundation, along with the Helsing-Simmons, Alfred P. Sloan, and Walton Family Foundations and the TomKat Charitable Trust, were key backers of a multi-year, $18 million project to determine if methane emissions can be reduced in fracking to make it more environmentally friendly.9

Julian Robertson has also contributed to ClearPath Action, a political action committee designed to fund Republicans who support environmentalist policy proposals.10 In a 2015 opinion piece for the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Robertson and MacArthur Foundation president Julia Stasch said that their two foundations “are committed to investing in ideas and policies” that would promote “a safer, more sustainable climate…We urge everyone to join us in demanding climate solutions that build global prosperity.”11

Charter School Support

Charter schools have also been an interest of the Robertson Foundation.  In Atlanta, the Robertson Foundation, along with the CF, Chick-fil-A, Gates, Marcus, and O. Wayne Rollins Foundations and the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, contributed to the Drew Charter Junior and Senior Academy, successor to the Charles Drew Charter School, which has been operating in inner city Atlanta since 2001. The Drew Charter School, Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Mark Niesse observed, “has become a model for achievement among students from low-income backgrounds, pulling up test scores competitive with those at schools in the wealthiest neighborhoods.  Its strategy is being copied across the country.”12

In New York City, the Robertson Foundation has backed Success Academy, headed by former city councilor Eva Moskowitz (D-Manhattan). In April 2016 the Robertson Foundation donated $25 million to Success Academy at a fundraising dinner that raised $35 million in an effort to enable Success Academy to expand from 34 to 100 schools.13

In an interview with Philanthropy, Robertson said that at the banquet a New York Times reporter asked him if he had read articles in the Times criticizing Success Academy. “Indeed I have read your stories,” Robertson said, adding, “When I see a line a mile long for every child that gets in the school via lottery, I know there’s something food there that’s attracting people.”14

Audacious Project Partnership

The Robertson Foundation has partnered with the Audacious Project, an initiative of the TED conference and lecture hosting organization, joining major left-of-center grantmaking institutions such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.15

In recent years, some observers have accused TED of developing a left-wing bias and contradicting its self-proclaimed nonpartisan stance by ignoring right-of-center perspectives out of sensitivity for its left-leaning audience.16 The Audacious Project has backed a number of left-wing causes, including the anti-fossil fuel Environmental Defense Fund and the environmentalist Nature Conservancy.17 In addition, Audacious has endorsed the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL),  a private voting administration assistance organization which controversially received more than $300 million from Meta Platforms executive Mark Zuckerberg in the lead-up to the 2020 election and funded local election administrators.18

The Audacious Project has also funded the Bail Project, a controversial payment assistance fund for prisoners which claims that the United States criminal justice system is racist and which has employed individuals who have participated in civil unrest with the extreme-left Antifa militant movement.19


Julian H. Robertson Jr. was the organization’s founder together with his wife Josie Robertson. He was also the founder of the hedge fund Tiger Management.20 Robertson cited activist Bill Milliken, the founder of the left-of-center education policy organization Communities in Schools whose family of fellow philanthropists includes Roger, Margot, and Weston Milliken, as one of his main inspirations for entering the left-of-center grantmaking sphere.21

John Hood is the former president and chief executive officer of the Robertson Foundation. Since May 2018, he has sat on the board of directors of Blackstone, a major international asset management firm which held nearly $1 trillion worth of assets under management as of March 2023. Blackstone owns more than 12,000 pieces of real estate and has at least 250 companies in its portfolio.22 23

Ruth Brenner is the former director of administration for the Robertson Foundation, as well as for its sister organizations, the Tiger and Aotearoa Foundations. In June 2021, Brenner became the senior vice president for finance and operations at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, which has provided substantial funding to various environmentalist causes, including at least $660,000 for the anti-fossil fuel Environmental Defense Fund.24


In 2018, the Robertsons contributed $60 million to their foundation and issued more than $103 million in grants. The next year, however, the Robertson Foundation received no contributions, generating most of its income from stock dividends, a trend which continued into the following year. Nonetheless, the foundation continued to distribute tens of millions of dollars in grants and continued to pay its top staff six-figure salaries.25


  1. “Robertson Foundation.” ProPublica Nonprofit Explorer. Accessed April 23, 2023.
  2. The Robertson Foundation. Accessed April 23, 2023.
  3. “Julian H. Robertson, Jr.—The Giving Pledge,”
  4. “About.” The Giving Pledge. Accessed May 6, 2023.
  5. Susan Wolf Ditkoff, Anna Fincke, and Alan Tuck, Tiger Foundation:  Profile in Engaged Philanthropy (Boston:  Bridgespan Group, 2007), 6.
  6. “About Us.” The Blanche & Julian Robertson Family Foundation. Accessed May 8, 2023.
  7. Daniel A. Strachtman, Julian Robertson:  A Tiger In The Land of Bulls and Bears (Hoboken, New Jersey:  Wiley, 2004), 243.
  8. “Julian H. Robertson—The Giving Pledge.”
  9. Katherine Begley and Lisa Song, “EDF Recruits Sprawling Network to Fund Methane Leaks Research, July 4, 2015 
  10. John Downey, “Who Is On The (Very) Short List of Contributors For Jay Faison’s ClearPath Clean Energy PAC?”, Charlotte Business Journal, April 19, 2016.
  11. Julian Robertson and Julia Stasch, “Philanthropy Must Move Fast to Support Efforts to Curb Climate Change,” Chronicle of Philanthropy, December 1, 2015,
  12. Mark Niesse, “Charter School’s Strategy Succeeds,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 4, 2014.
  13. Antoine Gara, “Hedge Fund Billionaires Led By Julian Robertson Donate $35 Million to Success Academy,”, April 12, 2016.
  14. “Interview With Julian Robertson,” Philanthropy, Fall 2016,
  15. “About.” The Audacious Project. Accessed April 23, 2023.
  16. Mark Bridge. “Online TED talks accused of ignoring non-liberal views.” The Times. February 28, 2017. Accessed April 23, 2023.
  17. “Grantees.” The Audacious Project. Accessed April 23, 2023.
  18. “Strengthening Local Election Administration In The US.” The Audacious Project. Accessed April 23, 2023.
  19. “Grantees.” The Audacious Project. Accessed April 23, 2023.
  20. The Robertson Foundation. Accessed April 23, 2023.
  21. “A letter from Mr. Robertson.” The Robertson Foundation. July 26, 2010. Accessed April 23, 2023.
  22. “Sir John Antony Hood.” Blackstone. Accessed April 23, 2023.
  23. “The Firm.” Blackstone. Accessed April 23, 2023.
  24. “Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Names Ruth Brenner New Senior Vice President, Finance & Operations.” Philanthropy New York. June 29, 2021. Accessed April 23, 2023.
  25. “Robertson Foundation.” ProPublica Nonprofit Explorer. Accessed April 23, 2023.

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Julian Robertson
    Founder, Main Funder
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: November - October
  • Tax Exemption Received: January 1, 1998

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2015 Nov Form PF $125,739,923 $117,140,962 $583,803,334 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2014 Nov Form PF $98,967,397 $116,727,513 $575,141,355 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2013 Nov Form PF $64,616,277 $105,785,297 $592,898,860 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2012 Nov Form PF $43,673,610 $106,895,639 $635,039,036 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2011 Nov Form PF $7,848,822 $88,779,766 $698,218,937 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Robertson Foundation

    NEW YORK, NY 10178-0002