Absolute Return for Kids

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Absolute Return for Kids (ARK) "is an international charity whose purpose is to transform children’s lives.

"Founded in 2002 by a group of leaders in the alternative investment industry, pooling their skills and resources to improve the life chances of children, ARK delivers high social returns on philanthropic investment.

"Originally a grant-making organisation, ARK’s delivery model was changed to maximise its impact and ensure strong accountability. ARK deploys the funds it raises by setting up and managing its own teams who are responsible for implementing its programmes.

"ARK brings together passionate experts with the best talent from business to deliver its vision on the ground under the leadership of its Board of Trustees.

"Employing over 1,200 staff directly and through partners, ARK’s programmes are highly focused on meeting pre-defined strategic goals in the areas of HIV/AIDS (South Africa, Mozambique), Education (UK, India) and Children in Care (Eastern Europe)." [1]

ARK's chairman is French hedge fund tycoon Arpad A. Busson [1]. However, ARK's connections with the hedge fund industry go deeper than the background of its chairman. Unusually for an educational charity, ARK chose the journal HedgeFund Intelligence to advertise in late 2005 for a Programmes Director and Communications and Fundraising Director. The advertisement stated that "ARK's trustees [are] drawn predominantly from within the hedge fund industry". [2]

An August 2005 bulletin published by the public sector union UNISON described ARK in unflattering terms:

A charity funded with millions made in City fund dealing wants to develop a network of city academies in the UK, modelled on American charter schools. The ludicrously named Absolute Return for Kids (ARK) has no experience of running education services in the UK and was recently thrown off an academy scheme in Islington North, London in June after the governors of one of the schools involved voted against. [3] (296KB PDF)

2011 Fundraiser

"The cream of the hedge fund industry gathered last night with royalty, rock stars and a host of celebrities to help children's charity Absolute Return for Kids celebrate its tenth anniversary....The event, which was attended by more than 1,000 guests, raised £17.2m, beating the £14.1m that was raised last year and the £15.6m at the 2009 gala. However, it did not quite match the £25m-plus that was raised in 2007 and 2008....Other attendees included hedge fund hotshots Louis Bacon, founder of Moore Capital Management, Winton Capital Management founder David Harding and GLG founder Pierre Lagrange. And among the celebrity guests were Elizabeth Hurley, Kevin Spacey, David Furnish, Tom Ford and Colin Firth.

Ark has raised over £150m over the past decade, helping the lives of 200,000 children from eastern Europe to southern Africa, India and the UK, through projects focused on education, health and combating child abuse. The Duke of Cambridge announced a new venture between Ark and the Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry to support young people in the UK and Africa. It was also announced that Ark is launching a large diarrhoea vaccination and treatment programme in Zambia, a country where the disease is the second biggest killer of under-fives in Africa. It has pledged £1m for the project, an amount which the UK government has agreed to match." [2]


Accessed March 2018: [3]

Global board

Ark US board

Global Board (2012)

Accessed July 2012: [4]

Trustees (2009)

Accessed March 2009: [5]

  • Arpad A. Busson, Chairman; Paul Dunning, Stanley Fink, David Gorton, Kevin Gundle, Paul Marshall, Jennifer Moses, Blaine Tomlinson

Patrons (2009)

Accessed March 2009: [6]

Honorary Patrons


Corporate Patrons


Web: http://www.arkonline.org

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch articles


  1. Mission, Absolute Return for Kids, accessed March 25, 2009.
  2. efinancialnews A-listers gather to celebrate Ark milestone, organizational web page, accessed July 12, 2012.
  3. ARK Who, organizational web page, accessed March 27, 2018.
  4. ARK Global Board, organizational web page, accessed July 8, 2012.
  5. Directors, Absolute Return for Kids, accessed March 25, 2009.
  6. Patrons, Absolute Return for Kids, accessed March 25, 2009.

External links