April 17, 2019 News

Providence Journal: Puerto-Rican alum gives Brown $25M to study economic disparities

By Linda Borg, Journal Staff Writer

PROVIDENCE — A Brown University alumnus and manager of one of the largest private equity firms in the world has donated $25 million to Brown, which will use it to establish an economics research center and hire more faculty.

Orlando Bravo, managing partner of Thoma Bravo, which buys and develops technology companies, said Brown opened up new worlds to him and encouraged his passion for social justice. Bravo, 48, is married with three children and lives in the San Francisco Bay area. He graduated in 1992.

Bravo grew up in Puerto Rico, the son of a successful shipping magnate. He and his brother attended Brown, and he was the first person in his family to go to college outside of Puerto Rico.

“My mom encouraged me to go to a school where I could thrive academically and play tennis,” he said Tuesday. “I saw Brown and I loved it. Brown was culturally open-minded and kind of humble. It encouraged risk-taking by providing a pass-fail system.

“Brown gave me not only the foundation but the confidence to pursue what has been an exciting career for me,” he said.

More than half of the gift from the Bravo Family Foundation — $15 million — will be used to launch the Orlando Bravo Center for Economic Research, which will allow the department to expand its research into economic disparities, an issue close to Bravo’s heart. The remaining $10 million will be used to recruit additional faculty.

“The Brown economics department is at the forefront of research into income inequality and social mobility, which are two areas that are very important to me and my foundation,” Bravo said. “My hope is that by furthering this research it will have an impact on social policy.”

“This is really a transformative gift for the university,” said Anna Aizer, chair of the economics department. “It will enable the faculty to continue to do cutting-edge research that will have a profound impact on our understanding of human development and well-being. It will also help us train the next generation of economists.”

Bravo is committed to improving the lives of young people, especially those who live in Puerto Rico. The Bravo Family Foundation provided humanitarian aid following the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria, and it continues to offer long-term programs for young adults. It also supports health-care initiatives and early-childhood education programs.

“I want to ensure that other kids, other Latino kids, have the opportunity to go off and do their thing,” Bravo said.

Read the complete article on the Providence Journal website here.