George R. Roberts '66 P'93 published a piece in the Thursday, Nov. 27 issue of The Wall Street Journal called, The Social-Enterprise Approach to Job Creation: Helping people stay in school, out of prison, and off the government dole. The article appeared both on page A17 of the paper's U.S. edition, as well as the Opinion page.
Roberts is the co-founder and co-CEO of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. with his cousin, Henry R. Kravis 67, a member of the Claremont McKenna College Board of Trustees. The generosity of both Roberts and Kravis to their alma mater is reflected throughout CMC in academic buildings and in centers for student and faculty research, as well as chaired professorships.
The article opens with Roberts alluding to a young man fictitiously called David, whose use of drugs leads him to a drifter's life, then jail. After hitting rock bottom in 2003, a desperate David finds his way out of an unproductive life by going to the Community Housing Partnership in San Francisco. The social enterprise, Roberts says, operates permanent housing and offers skills training for the formerly homeless. "CHP provided a way forward for David," writes Roberts, "including a place to live, drug counseling, and a job."
Having laid the foundation for the fruitful work of social-enterprise partnerships, Roberts says that, "just as education reform has proven that economic circumstances do not determine a child's ability to learn, social enterprises are proving that prison time, drug addiction, homelessness and mental illness can be overcome with opportunity and hope."
Roberts is the founder of Roberts Enterprise Development Fund, which helps fund the start-up and expansion of job-creating social enterprises like the one named above. He says its success is measured by people in jobs and lives changed.
"The motivation behind our support of social enterprises is simple: They keep people in school, out of prison and off government assistance," Roberts says. "Most important, they provide jobs. Because if you don't have a job, you don't have hope. And if you don't have hope, what do you really have?"