Robert Kraft and Johnathan Kraft have made a substantial donation to the Harvard Business School, in order to establish a fellowship for high-potential applicants who have limited financial means. The fellowship is named the Robert K. Kraft Family Fellowship Fund.
The Robert K. Kraft Family Fellowship Fund
The purpose of the fund is specifically to eliminate the financial challenge of attending business school for chosen applicants. Fellowships awarded by the fund will make a Harvard Business School education available to promising students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford tuition and other costs.
Specifically, fellowships are to be awarded to first-generation college students, whose parents and grandparents hadn’t graduated from a four-year postsecondary school. Chosen students will also be from lower socioeconomic strata, or from backgrounds that are underrepresented within the HBS student body.
The total endowment given to HBS was $24 million, which represents the latest endowment for any fellowship that the business school has. Such a sizeable donation ensures that many students will be able to benefit from the Kraft family’s generosity.
As a token of gratitude, both HBS’s Financial Aid Office and its Director of MBA Financial Aid have been renamed in the family’s honor. The fellowship itself additionally bears the family name.
Robert Kraft’s Experience With HBS
The Kraft family has long been associated with Harvard Business School, and both Robert Kraft and his son Jonathan Kraft have master of business administration degrees from the school.
Robert Kraft’s desire to attend HBS began when he was a child, growing up in nearby Brookline, Massachusetts. Kraft hailed from a modest family in the middle-class town.
Upon graduating from high school, Robert Kraft was accepted to and enrolled at Columbia University. He received a full scholarship from the university, and is indebted to the university for showing him personally how transformational a scholarship can be.
While he was attending Columbia University, Robert Kraft found excuses to be on the HBS campus frequently. He often would take on odd jobs around the school’s campus when home for holidays or breaks.
Kraft’s efforts on the HBS campus paid off handsomely. He developed a relationship with Richard Chapin, who was the school’s Assistant Dean at the time. Chapin encouraged Kraft to apply for enrollment after he graduated from Columbia, and Robert Kraft received a fellowship to attend HBS. This was the second time that Robert Kraft personally benefited from a school’s financial assistance.
Robert Kraft graduated with an MBA in 1965. He had two sons, Jonathan and Daniel, by the time he completed the program.
Jonathan Kraft’s Experience With HBS
Jonathan Kraft grew up attending annual Harvard Business School breakfasts with his father. They would attend along with HBS fellowship recipients whom the Krafts sponsored.
Jonathan Kraft eventually enrolled in HBS, graduating with an MBA degree in 1990. He established his own fellowship fund 10 years later, in 2000.
The Kraft Family Fellowship Fund’s Immediate Impact
This latest and largest fellowship fund established by Robert Kraft and Jonathan Kraft comes at a strategic time for Harvard Business School.
HBS has long used a “need-blind” approach to admissions, in which students are chosen without regard to their financial resources or needs. As a result, the school regularly gives out financial aid to students. It awards more than $40 million each year in need-based aid, at least during most typical years.
To help students manage during the Covid-19 pandemic, HBS adopted flexible leave and deferral policies for the 2020-2021 year. As a result, this year’s incoming student class was much larger than normal. The school received over 1,000 students at the start of the academic year.
The new Kraft Family Fellowship Fund is being immediately used to help some of these incoming students pay tuition and other expenses.
About Robert Kraft
Robert Kraft is the Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Kraft Food Group. He is also the owner of the New England Patriots, and the leader of the Kraft Family Foundation. He graduated from Harvard Business School in 1965.
About Jonathan Kraft
Jonathan Kraft is the President of the Kraft Food Group. He graduated from HBS in 1990.
About Harvard Business School
Harvard Business School is the graduate-level business school of Harvard University. The school was founded in 1908, and is located in Boston, Massachusetts.