News and analysis
October 04, 2017

Former Microsoft CEO and Wife Pledge $60 Million to Fight Social Inequality

Steve and Connie Ballmer are giving $60 million over six years to a program created by StriveTogether, a national nonprofit that seeks to improve education for low-income children.

Mr. Ballmer, the former chief executive of Microsoft, and his wife are giving the money through the Ballmer Group, a grant maker they set up last year to devote their nearly $34 billion fortune to fight intergenerational poverty across the country.

The program, called StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network, centers on reducing racial and socioeconomic disparities in educational success and improving partnerships among school systems, education service organizations, and other groups that provide human services to needy families.

The group helps education, charity, business, and civic leaders collaborate to improve the lives of children from kindergarten through college and early in their careers.

Other Gifts

In addition to their latest donation, the Ballmers have made a number of other large contributions in recent years totaling more than $250 million.

They landed the No. 19 spot on The Chronicle’s 2014 Philanthropy 50 list of the most generous Americans for two large donations to universities. They gave $60 million that year to Harvard, Mr. Ballmer’s alma mater, for computer-science professorships and $50 million to Ms. Ballmer’s alma mater, the University of Oregon, for financial aid, an obesity-prevention program, and other projects.

The couple have given a number of other big education gifts in the past two years that have sought to benefit low- and middle-income students.

Earlier this year they pledged $30 million to Building Educated Leaders for Life to support summer programs for low-income students. They also pledged $20 million this year to College Possible to back college-readiness programs, and they gave $1 million to Reading Partners for an early-childhood literacy program.

In 2015, they donated $20 million to the University of Washington for its School of Social Work and $11 million to Washington State Opportunity Scholarship for financial aid for low and middle-income students pursuing degrees in health care, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Correction: An earlier version of this article said the gift would create the StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network. The program is not new; the money will support the work that is already being done.

Send an e-mail to Maria Di Mento.