John Arnold’s choice

John Arnold abruptly shuttered his hedge fund in 2012 at just 38 years old to focus on giving away the fortune he had made as an energy trader. A onetime Enron employee who is said to have made $750 million for the company in 2001 alone, the year that the firm collapsed, Arnold became a billionaire running his own fund. He founded Centaurus Advisors in the wake of Enron’s collapse and got wealthy identifying market inefficiencies. Now, he thinks he can search for similar inefficiencies where he can make an impact as a philanthropist.

He invested in ex-convicts in New York and Massachusetts, putting money down for social impact bonds that fund state programs aiming to keep young men from returning to jail. If the programs are successful, the states will pay the money back that they save in prison costs. A Democrat who believes the government needs to be more careful about its budgets, he has backed pension reform across the country and is a strong supporter of charter schools. His efforts have drawn the ire of opponents, but Arnold says he is not backing down. “Policy work makes you no friends,” he wrote in the Chronicle of Philanthropy in 2014. “We pursue our policy objectives not because we have a financial stake in the outcome (we do not) or because we have any personal agenda other than improving outcomes for society as a whole”.

Laura and John Arnold Foundation_website