Robert Wilson, who made his millions as a growth-stock investor at his firm, Wilson Associates, and describes himself as an atheist. He took $15,000 in 1949 and turned it into $225 million by the time he retired in 1986 at the age of 60.
Then Wilson began giving it away.
Wilson says that he wants to donate 70% of his wealth before he dies. So far, he has given more than $550 million to charitable causes, including more than $28 million to the Archdiocese of New York to help Catholic schools.
Wilson began giving to archdiocesan schools in 1997 with a gift of $10,000. In 2007, Wilson gave a $22.5 million gift to support scholarships.
Like many who give to Catholic schools, Wilson does so because of Catholic schools’ educational achievement record.
“Most of what the Catholic schools teach are the three Rs,” Wilson told Bloomberg News. “And they do it better than the union-controlled inner-city schools.”
Faced with Catholic schools having to close across the country, Wilson’s most recent gift — $5.6 million this summer — will fund the Catholic Alumni Partnership, a program he founded that helps elementary schools locate alumni and recruit them as potential donors.