What Has Hedge Fund Billionaire David Tepper Been Up to Lately? Here’s a Rundown of His Giving

Chung-Hao Lee/shutterstock

Billionaire David Tepper, 65, is still going strong at the helm of Appaloosa Management, a hedge fund firm that manages nearly $13 billion. The firm has offices in sunny West Palm Beach and New Jersey. Tepper came up in the working class Stanton Heights community of Pittsburgh and paid his way through school, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh and earning his MBA from Carnegie Mellon in 1980. He went on to become the head of the junk bond desk at Goldman Sachs, and founded Appaloosa Management in 1993. Today, he is worth $18.5 billion and relocated his hedge fund headquarters from Jersey to Florida.

On the philanthropic front, his family foundation, the Tepper Foundation, was founded in 1996. It is yet another well-heeled charity of a Wall Street billionaire that flies well under the radar. But as of the most recently available public tax records, the foundation held upward of $870 billion in assets and gave away around $41 million. Tepper is another financier heavily involved with Robin Hood Foundation, the New York City antipoverty giant he has supported and on whose board he serves.

Tepper Foundation gave Robin Hood yet another large grant ($1.3 million) in the 2019 fiscal year. This is emblematic of a family foundation that places a premium on supporting human services organizations, not just in the tri-state area, but other key geographic regions as well. Aside from fighting poverty, what else is the Tepper family interested in? Here is a rundown.

Continued high-level support of human services

The Tepper Foundation has a longstanding interest in providing basic needs to communities. Randi Tepper, the foundation’s COO and David Tepper’s daughter, once described these needs as “cornerstone issues,” adding, “It’s absolutely critical that we provide for that first line of stability. It’s impossible to think about anything else if you don’t have food on your table or a roof over your head.” 

The foundation has focused on supporting food access and distribution efforts, with grants going to national antipoverty organizations like United Way, Feeding America and ReFED, which works to cut food loss and waste in support of national and international goals.

That being said, Tepper Foundation’s grantmaking overall is focused on some key geographies: The New York-New Jersey metro area, South Florida (where the family now takes up residence) and the Carolinas. In 2018, David Tepper bought the Carolina Panthers professional football team in a $2.3 billion deal. Grantmaking in Florida started in 2016 and grantmaking in North and South Carolina started in the following few years.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Tepper contributed some $25 million to relief efforts, particularly focused on food distribution in North Carolina and New Jersey in partnership with Feeding America, which has received millions from the foundation. The Tepper Foundation was also actively involved with the Charlotte COVID-19 Response Fund and has helped close the digital divide by purchasing Wi-Fi access for students learning remotely. In Spring of 2022, the foundation made a $1.2 million gift to Feeding the Carolinas to support a network of 10 local Food Banks across North and South Carolina. Other support has gone to Feeding South Florida and Single Stop, which aims to reduce poverty and promote economic mobility in the U.S. by connecting people to available government and nonprofit programs.

David Tepper is on the board of Blue Meridian Partners, a popular antipoverty collaborative that boasts a who’s who of wealthy donors. The Tepper Foundation is listed as a general partner, meaning it’s committed at least $50 million.

One key thing to note about Robin Hood, Blue Meridian and ReFED is a shared emphasis on data and results, which seems to be an undercurrent of the Tepper family’s work to combat poverty overall. As another example, the Tepper Foundation helped fund Community Foundation of New Jersey’s New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund (NJPRF), including a report sharing insights and recommendations for how best to strengthen the emergency food system in the community. Randi Tepper, by the way, served as COO of NJPRF.

Finally, the Tepper Foundation has also engaged in humanitarian and disaster relief work, including in Puerto Rico, following hurricanes Maria, Irma and Harvey. And after Hurricane Florence hit the Carolina coast, Carolina Panthers Charities and the Tepper Foundation donated $1 million to the American Red Cross and $450,000 to regional food banks, providing 25,000 emergency food packs.

Education at Carnegie Mellon and beyond

Perhaps David Tepper’s most obvious philanthropic work is at his alma mater, Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh. In the early aughts, Tepper gave $55 million to the university’s business school, which was renamed the David Tepper School of Business. In 2013, he gave another $67 million for the creation of the Tepper Quadrangle, an “innovation hub” designed to promote collaboration between Carnegie Mellon’s seven schools.

Randi Tepper graduated from Emory University and received an education master’s from Relay Graduate School of Education. She worked as a teacher at Uncommon Schools for a few years. The Tepper Foundation has supported Emory including its Chabad House. Other grantees have included Baylor University, the recipient of a recent seven-figure gift from the foundation in 2020. One connection here could be Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule, who used to coach for Baylor.

Joining Tepper Foundation’s small brass is Shelley Skinner, who serves as director of programs at the foundation. She also has an education background, working at a New Jersey charter school for a time, and at Better Education for Kids, an education advocacy organization whose goal is to ensure high-quality opportunities for children in New Jersey.

Other interests and looking ahead

The Tepper Foundation has also supported Jewish organizations, including Jewish Federation of North America, Jewish Federation of Metrowest, and the Anti-Defamation League. Health organizations like NYU Langone Hospitals and North Carolina Hospital Foundation have also received support. And just a few weeks ago, the foundation made a grant to Autism Charlotte. The gift itself was modest enough — $10,000. However, it was driven by Panthers tight end Ian Thomas, who has a passion for autism advocacy. All that is to say that going forward, it’s not just the Tepper family and their community that could influence giving, but other figures in their growing sports-related orbit. This giving also may include interesting partnerships with athlete and sports foundations — including Carolina Panthers Charities, which focuses on areas like education, athletics and human services.

Another figure to watch is David Tepper’s wife Nicole, who serves as chief administrative officer of Tepper Sports & Entertainment, the parent company for the Panthers and Charlotte FC, his soccer team. As the Tepper family further establishes roots in the Carolinas, Florida and the broader South, the Tepper Foundation could emerge as one of the largest grantmakers in the region.