Pulte Family Charitable Foundation Donates $111M to Indiana’s Notre Dame to Fight Poverty

Florida’s Pulte Family Charitable Foundation has entered into a $111 million partnership with the University of Notre Dame in Indiana to develop and measure the impact of anti-poverty programs. The late Bill Pulte, who created the foundation, started Pulte Homes in Detroit in 1950 (today Atlanta-based PulteGroup operates its Michigan division in Bloomfield Hills).
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Bill Pulte
Bill Pulte // File photo

Florida’s Pulte Family Charitable Foundation has entered into a $111 million partnership with the University of Notre Dame in Indiana to develop and measure the impact of anti-poverty programs. The late Bill Pulte, who created the foundation, started Pulte Homes in Detroit in 1950 (today Atlanta-based PulteGroup operates its Michigan division in Bloomfield Hills).

Pulte passed away in March 2018. He had 14 children, 27 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. He was a philanthropist, innovator, and master home builder. His wife, Karen Pulte, lives in Florida and is a member of Notre Dame’s advisory council for the Keough School of Global Affairs. She also is a board member and director of the scholarship program for the family’s foundation.

“Bill was a selfless man, always thinking of others,” she says. “During our 25 years of wonderful marriage, he never wanted to draw attention to himself. When he retired, he focused on serving others and wanted to do what he could to help address the world’s biggest problems, especially world peace and poverty. We were founding members of International Samaritan, focused on the direct relief for families living in garbage dump towns in Central and South America.

“But Bill wanted more impact on a larger scale. That’s why the combination of the Pulte Family Charitable Foundation and Notre Dame makes so much sense. Together, we will leverage our resources to finally put an end to global poverty once and for all. It is a daunting task, but Bill Pulte always dreamed of a better tomorrow for all people. Bill would be very proud of this new relationship with Notre Dame.”

The Pulte endowments will expand a worldwide network of researchers, students, and others dedicated to helping people escape cycles of poverty, make charitable organizations more effective, graduate the next generation of leaders in the field, create smarter and longer-lasting solutions to poverty, and enhance the university’s network of poverty action agencies, government officials, and corporate leaders.

The gift will be directed primarily toward these university initiatives:

  • The Pulte Institute for Global Development, part of the Keough School of Global Affairs, which addresses global poverty and inequality through policy, practice, and partnership. It creates and evaluates projects and programs for poor and vulnerable populations.
  • The William J. Pulte Directorship of the Pulte Institute for Global Development, currently held by Ray Offenheiser, a nonprofit leader who was previously president of Oxfam America.
  • The Pulte Endowment for Excellence for Global Affairs, which supports the Integration Lab in the Keough School of Global Affairs, provides engagements with students, global partners, and faculty mentors to address global issues and challenges.
  • The William J. Pulte Endowment for Excellence in Social Innovation, which supports the Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economics Opportunities, a research center in Notre Dame’s Department of Economics that uses impact evaluations to identify programs to help move people out of poverty.
  • The Fighting Irish Initiative, which provides financial aid for Notre Dame students in need and funds for the Office of Student Enrichment. Recipients of the initiative are often the first in their families to attend college, and the initiative covers the full cost of attendance as well as resources and programming to help the students acclimate to college life.
  • The William J. Pulte Endowed Scholarship Fund, which is awarded to students in need in the School of Architecture, College of Engineering, Keough School of Global Affairs, and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.

“Words alone cannot express our gratitude to the Pulte family,” says Rev. John I. Jenkins, president of Notre Dame. “This truly is a transformational gift for Notre Dame but, more importantly, for those who will benefit from new and better anti-poverty programs across the country and around the world. Our distinctive mission, our guiding faith, our global reach, the world’s best minds, and our characteristic hope make this an enduring effort that, together with the Pulte Family Charitable Foundation, will find the best answers to the problem of poverty.”

Julie and Mark Pulte of Bloomfield Hills have six children; two of them graduated from Notre Dame. Mark Pulte earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from Notre Dame and serves as vice president and chief investment officer of the Pulte Family Charitable Foundation. Julie Pulte graduated from Saint Mary’s College.

Mark Pulte is founder, president, and CEO of Mark Timothy Inc., a Florida-based luxury home designer. He is also a principal of Pulte Capital Partners, an investment firm, and previously worked at PulteGroup. He is a trustee of Holy Cross College and a member of Notre Dame’s advisory council for the School of Architecture.

“Partnering with a great institution like Notre Dame gives the Pulte Foundation an immediate global presence to help combat poverty,” he says. “With today’s partnership, we are that much closer to helping many marginalized members of our shared family.”

Nancy Pulte Rickard and Kevin Rickard live in Florida. One of their three children graduated from Notre Dame. Nancy Pulte Rickard is a member of Notre Dame’s advisory council for the Keough School of Global Affairs. She is also chair of the board of directors and president of the Pulte Family Charitable Foundation and has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Albion College and a master’s degree in public administration from Bowling Green State University.

“What we do and the decisions we make now will make all the difference in our being a dynamic and relevant entity – taking on current and future philanthropic challenges and addressing humanitarian issues – versus an old school foundation that functions under the most conservative principles and practices,” she says. “Our alliance with Notre Dame will help us accomplish our long game both nationally and globally. In partnering with the University of Notre Dame, we will accomplish things we could never achieve on our own. In addition to sharing our core beliefs rooted in our Catholic faith, the university has a global reach with access to some of the world’s brightest minds, expertise, resources, and all-around know-how for playing on different fields and winning when it comes to improving life systems for humanity.”

The Pulte Family Charitable Foundation works to meet the basic human needs of the most marginalized people, including those with disabilities, socio-economically disadvantaged youth, the elderly, and those without material resources.

A portion of the gift will be held in a donor-advised fund, which will leverage the Notre Dame endowment to maximize the impact of donor-advised assets with Notre Dame and other charities.

The endowment is part of the Boldly Notre Dame campaign.

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