One of our newest chief executives has launched a massive Hurricane Harvey relief effort. But he’s also behind a philanthropic initiative quietly taking shape in Boston.
That chief executive is Michael Dell, who arrived in town because of his decision to acquire Hopkinton-based EMC through his computer business, Dell Technologies. His family foundation has given $25 million to the Harvey cause and attracted $19 million in gifts so far (including $1 million from Boston-based DentaQuest). Plus, it’s kicking in $5 million to underwrite the costs of a telethon Tuesday.
The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation’s focus is on kids who live in urban poverty. But the Dells are Texas natives — Michael grew up in Houston. Harvey’s devastating floods hit home. Putting a piece of the $1.6 billion endowment to work seemed like an obvious next step.
In Boston, the work is more aligned with the core mission. Executive director Janet Mountain says the foundation launched its Boston initiative this year because the Dells bought a home in Boston and Michael Dell now spends a considerable amount of time here.
Mountain says the foundation is working to promote economic mobility of Boston’s low income youth, committing $1.4 million to local causes this year. Boston is the first city outside of the Dells’ hometown of Austin to get this kind of focus.
We’re lucky we haven’t been hit by a Harvey-sized storm recently. But inequality still represents a threat to our economy — a problem that will require creativity, and a few well placed donations, to solve.Jon Chesto can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @jonchesto.