David Rubenstein, co-founder of private equity giant Carlyle Group, awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships last week to college-bound students in the District’s public and charter high schools.
Rubenstein handed out the awards in partnership with the Economic Club of Washington, D.C., part of an effort he started four years ago. Before his latest gift, more than 100 graduating seniors in D.C. have received scholarships totaling more than $500,000.
During an awards banquet held at the Madison Hotel in Northwest Washington on May 7, the philanthropist shared his hopes for the recipients.
“We’re all going to be watching you … and hopefully one of you will become the president of the Economic Club one day,” said Rubenstein, whose voice was still hoarse from giving 80 presentations in six days as Carlyle prepared to make its debut as a public company.
The awards came one week after the Economic Club gave $500,000 in grants to nonprofits that support youth education, development and employment.
Both the nonprofit grants and scholarships are in honor of the Economic Club’s 25th anniversary, which will also include a celebration dinner in June with Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett as the guest speaker.
Each of the 44 scholarship recipients collected $10,000, double the amount from last year’s award. Rubenstein decided to increase the scholarship to provide for the students’ freshman and sophomore years of college. He said that decision was made long before the Carlyle Group decided to go public.
“When I became the president of the Economic Club of Washington, I saw that the scholarships they were giving were very modest, so I felt we had an obligation to do more for the city in which we’re based,” Rubenstein said.
Two students were chosen from each of the District’s 16 public high schools and 12 students from the 10 charter schools with a graduating senior class.
Each school selected its own winners through an application process.
Kaya Henderson, chancellor of the District’s public schools, championed Rubenstein’s efforts in a speech where she told students “you have a walking, talking, living example of the expectation that we have for you.”
She said later that the scholarships were life-altering for many students.
“Even if they get into school, the finances around supporting their tuitions and even their books and incidentals, room and board, end up being barriers for a lot of our students and their families,” Henderson said. “To have some portion of that barrier removed by a $10,000 scholarship over the course of two years is game-changing.”