Braddock Scholars: A Philanthropist Helps Entrepreneurs Scale Up



Veteran business executive Richard Braddock and his wife Susan launched the Richard and Susan Braddock Family Foundation in 1999 to support a range of causes, including education and youth, arts and culture, policy, and health and human services.

Business-related education is a favored funding focus. Braddock’s alma mater (and that of two of his sons), Dartmouth College, is a regular grantee. The family established the Braddock Family Fund there to support undergraduate business courses, and the Dartmouth department of economics is home to the Richard S. Braddock Professorship. Another example is the Braddock Scholars Program, a mentorship initiative for entrepreneurs at the Aspen Institute that Braddock funds and in which he serves as a senior guide. It’s now in its third year, and is a great example of how a philanthropist can get hands-on and give from their personal skill set along with their financial wealth.

Braddock, who is now in his 70s, has led many companies, notably Citicorp and its principal subsidiary, Citibank. He ran Citi’s global consumer business and oversaw the development of its credit card sector—the largest in the world—along with the deployment of touchscreen ATMs. He also filled leadership roles at Medco Containment services, True North Communications, Priceline, and Fresh Direct. He continues to lead and invest in early-stage companies and is the current chairman of Pypestream. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and serves on the board of the Aspen Institute, a long-term beneficiary of the family. In 2016—the most recent year for which the foundation’s tax returns are available—the institute received its largest gift of $400,000.

The Braddock Scholars Program at the Aspen Institute launched in 2015, and Braddock explained its purpose in this way:

Entrepreneurs are great at starting businesses that solve important problems in new ways but aren’t always effective at significantly scaling these innovations, and much of the value creation comes from scaling. Many of the skills to do this come from spending time in big companies. We aim to bridge the “scaling gap” by channeling the expertise of our mentors toward the challenges our scholars face.

This Aspen Institute initiative cohort draws from U.S.-based members of its Global Leadership Network—a group of more than 2,100 international fellows who have completed Aspen leadership initiatives and are dedicated to addressing “the foremost societal challenges of our times.” It pairs them with seasoned global business leaders like Braddock. The mentees receive guidance from the business veterans, opportunities for peer-learning and networking, and funding of up to $40,000 for a key initiative of their choosing. Participants are expected to have projects that are already well beyond the start-up phase, be able to articulate their business goals, and be ready to identify and report on their key initiatives.

The 2018 Braddock Scholars hail from the Surge Institute, Care3, Vital Interaction, Revolution Foods, and LandIt. Braddock is a mentor, along with former U.S. secretary of labor and multi-sector business leader Ann Korologos; Lewis Sanders, CEO and founder of asset management firm Sanders Capital; Stewart Resnick of the Wonderful Company and various agribusinesses; and Kenneth Davis, president and CEO of the Mount Sinai Medical System. All the mentors have connections to the Aspen Institute.

“We’ve found from the first two years of the program that this is a highly satisfying association for [the entrepreneurs and mentors],” Braddock said.

Along with the Aspen Institute, which is generally considered a centrist think tank, the Braddocks support conservative policy groups like the Cato Institute, Heritage Foundation, and Manhattan Institute. The family also supports diverse cultural, human rights, education, health, and direct service groups, like the Partnership for Inner City Education, the American Museum of Natural History, the Mayo Clinic, Puppies Behind Bars, the Joyful Heart Foundation, and the International Rescue Committee. After the Aspen Institute, the Braddocks gave their second-largest gift in 2016 of $375,000 to repeat grantee Met Opera. Susan Braddock is the Met Opera Guild president emeritus.

In 2016, the Braddocks gave $1,657,000 million through their New York-based foundation, which had assets of about $5 million at the time. The foundation keeps a low public profile, with no website or phone number, which limits the available information on the family’s funding priorities and methodologies, but specific grant amounts can be explored on recent tax forms.