Stanford University will open an institution aimed at alleviating poverty in developing nations, using $150 million donated by a Silicon Valley investor and his wife. “More than a billion people live on less than $1.25 a day,” said Robert E. King, who, together with his wife, Dorothy, made the gift. “That’s just not right.”
The new Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies, which has been nicknamed SEED, will be housed in the Graduate School of Business but will draw students and faculty from around the university. The gift is one of the largest Stanford has received this year. The Kings said that was one reason they had decided to give the money to Stanford rather than starting a freestanding nonprofit like the Thrive Foundation for Youth, which they established to support research into programs helping young people and their parents. “The relationships the university has in Silicon Valley, the range of expertise it has among its professors — it can’t be replicated,” Mrs. King said. “The university can make our money more fruitful than we could on our own.”
Hau Lee, a supply chain expert at the Stanford business school will be the one to lead the new institute. “Many people are doing relief or aid operations, but at the institute, we will be asking how we can stimulate entrepreneurs and business ideas so that the people receiving aid today can become self-sufficient so they won’t need aid in the future,” Professor Lee said. The Kings demurred when Stanford offered to put their name on the new institute, and Mr. King was reluctant to talk much about the investments that had made him wealthy. “We’ve had success,” he said simply.