Richard Kelley wants to teach his three children a valuable lesson — and he's willing to give away more than $1 million to do it.
“We want our kids to learn how to give money away,” says Kelley, a veteran broker with Dain Rauscher in Omaha, Neb. “And it's a lot easier for them to give my money away than theirs.”
When Dain Rauscher sold out to Royal Bank of Canada last year, Kelley cashed in his Dain stock. So he and his wife Helen took $1 million and set up the Kelley Family Foundation, which will be used to help youth organizations, educational agencies and other groups that help children in the Omaha area. The foundation's board consists of Kelley's three grown children — Allyson Baffort, Beth Kelley and Rick Kelley, as well as four other members whom Kelley named to the board with the approval of his children.
“We intend to give away $50,000 or $60,000 a year, but each kid also has $5,000 to give away anywhere they want,” Kelley says. The remaining $35,000 is distributed through a formal process of requests and board approvals.
Kelley manages the endowment conservatively, investing in some stocks, money market funds and bonds.
“When Helen and I are gone, it will still be the Kelley Family Foundation and, hopefully, it'll still be growing,” says Kelley, a 63-year-old rainmaker who has been in the business for over 30 years and was named one of this magazine's Outstanding Brokers in 1983. He joined Dain Rauscher in June 1980.
“I'm sure I could find ways to spend the money,” he says. “But we decided that we have what we need. We wanted to share it with people who are less fortunate.”
And Kelley definitely knows how to give money away. Before establishing the foundation, he set up two other funds to help teachers and students in Omaha. First, Kelley created a $100,000 endowment called the Helen and Dick Kelley Endowed Chair Award. Every other year, the endowment awards two teachers from Omaha's Westside school district grants of $6,000 each to develop innovative teaching programs, introduce technology to the classroom or work on important research. The first awards were made in May 2000.
“They can't go back to school and use the money for an MBA, they have to be more creative than that,” Kelley says.
He also established a scholarship fund for high school seniors in the Westside school district, where Helen once taught English and their children learned to read and write. Every year, 10 “middle-of-the-road students” receive a $1,000 scholarship, which is patterned after a friend Kelley says he met in grade school.
“He was not a great student, but he liked to learn,” Kelley says. “When he got to college, he really settled down, and now he's worth probably $20 million or $30 million.”
But Kelley wants the scholarship recipients to find their own brand of success. “I've always wanted to be an elementary school teacher,” writes Erin Corrigan, one of the scholarship recipients, in a thank you note to the Kelleys. “I will never forget that you helped me to further my education.”