Robert H. Niehaus is a busy guy. It's not just his day jobs as a managing director of New York-based Greenhill & Co. and chairman, managing partner and founder of Greenhill Capital Partners LLC, a $420 million New York private equity fund, that keep him hopping.
In his spare time, the father of three can be found at the helm of two charitable agencies that assist disadvantaged youth. Mr. Niehaus is chairman of Student Sponsor Partnership, which provides scholarships to private high schools and a mentoring program for 1,500 low-income New York City students. He also is president of the board of Good Shepherd Services, a social services agency with a $25 million annual budget that provides adoption, foster care and long-term residences. Good Shepherd also supports a high school operated by the New York Public School System in the Red Hook area of Brooklyn for permanently truant students or drop outs.
"If a 15-year-old girl drops out of high school, there is a 90% chance she will get pregnant," Mr. Niehaus said of the Student Sponsorship program. "We graduate over 90% of the kids."
Mr. Niehaus' involvement with Student Sponsor Partnership began 17 years ago, when his former college roommate asked him to help sponsor a student. The idea is to match young professionals in Manhattan with students, to mentor them and pay their tuition at a private parochial high school. Mr. Niehaus is now mentoring his fifth student.
"It's a good cost-effective way to educate a kid," Mr. Niehaus said.
Mr. Niehaus first got involved in the mentoring program while he was managing director of Morgan Stanley & Co.'s private equity department 17 years ago. Some 20% of the program sponsors work at Morgan Stanley, New York, he said. Executives at Citigroup Asset Management, Stamford, Conn., also sponsor students, and Citigroup sponsors an annual bowling party.
Greenhill's staff currently pays for 28 students. Rather than contribute money to the program, many young Greenhill financial analysts contribute the time to mentor the students, he said, with the tuition picked up by Greenhill executives.
Many of the program's students have gone on to college after graduating from high school. "Students' families have to be at the poverty line and so they qualify for full financial aide for college," he said.