Andre Agassi is not a morning person, at least not this day.
As the former tennis star walks into a private meeting room at
Manhattans Pierre hotel for an 8:30 a.m. photo shoot, he
chides his partner, money manager Bobby Turner, for scheduling
an early East Coast start. Agassi had arrived from his Las
Vegas home the day before, went with Turner to Flushing Meadows
in Queens to watch Roger Federer beat Richard Gasquet for a
spot in the U.S. Open quarterfinals, then dined in Midtown
before finishing the evening at the new Central Park South
apartment of hedge fund manager
Yet Agassi shakes off the jet lag and gamely steps up to be
photographed. Im not going to get any better
looking as the day goes on, he says. Then he sits down
over breakfast to discuss his real passion: charter school
education. He and Turner have teamed up to create a joint
venture, the Turner-Agassi Charter School Facilities
Fund, to support the sector. The firm just closed its
second fund, expecting to raise $400 million in equity capital
from investors including the University Endowment Fund of the
University of Michigan and private wealth clients of Bank of
America Merrill Lynch. Over the next five years, the fund,
managed by Turners social investing outfit Turner Impact
Capital, will invest some $1 billion to develop as many as 130
charter schools across the U.S. The ventures first fund,
launched in 2011, has to date built 50 schools educating a
total of about 22,800 students.
Agassi, 45, earned much of his education on the courts. He
began his professional tennis career in 1986, at the age of 16,
and went on to win all four of the sports major titles.
He started his own foundation in 2001, then devoted himself
fully to philanthropy after retiring from the game in 2006,
with a particular interest in at-risk youth and charter
schools. He has raised $175 million over 15 years for charter
schools, beginning with the Andre Agassi College Preparatory
Academy, which opened in Las Vegas in 2001; its 2009 class had
100 percent graduation and college acceptance rates.
Agassi wrote about his charter school success in his 2009
autobiography, Open. When Turner, then a partner and
head of the real estate business at Los Angelesbased
Canyon Partners, read the book, he had to get in touch.