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Oprah, Usher Lead Night of One Names at Robin Hood Gala in New York City

In a room where everybody was somebody, you were nobody at last night’s Robin Hood Foundation Gala in New York City–unless everyone knew you by only one name. There was Oprah and Usher and Katie and, well, you get the point. It was New York City’s biggest annual fundraiser.

Ironically, those who made the night happen, raising $61 million to help fight poverty in New York City, were the nameless, faceless financial barons best known only on Wall Street.

The heavy hitters included Goldman Sachs’s Lloyd Blankfein, BlackRock’s Laurence D. Fink and investors like Bill Ackman, David Einhorn and the Bezos family of amazon.com fame, according to Forbes.

The Overdeck Family Foundation, and the Bezos Family Foundation, set the pace. The organizations offered up a $15 million challenge grant.

The Bezos foundation is run by Jackie Bezos, the mother of billionaire amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Mark Bezos, a senior vice president at Robin Hood. Jackie is also a Robin Hood Foundation board member.

John and Laura Overdeck created the Overdeck Family Foundation in 2011 to help children achieve their full academic potential.

John is the co-founder and co-chairman of Two Sigma Investments, LP, a New York City-based investment management fund. Laura founded Bedtime Math, a nonprofit that helps kids love math so they will excel at it, according to the organization’s Web site.

The total amount raised fell short of last year’s record $101 million, thanks to a combined $50 million donation from two wealthy donors, But it exceeded proceeds from the year before, according to the financial publication.

Which is not too shabby given that Wall Street, the lion’s source of donations, had a terrible year.

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The city’s movers and shakers came together to congratulate each other at a benefit dinner at the Javits Center in Manhattan last night.

Katie, that is Yahoo news anchor Katie Couric, set the tone for the evening calling the crowd “Bernie Sanders’s worst nightmare” in her opening remarks.

The gala dinner is always a great night for self-deprecation among those who have it, and know it.

Spotted in the crowd were tennis great John McEnroe and wife Patti Smyth, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Oprah gal pal Gayle King, Robin Hood Chairman David Saltzman, performer Zac Brown and comedian Jim Gaffigan.

The foundation has been focused on finding, funding, and creating programs and schools that generate meaningful results for families in New York’s poorest neighborhoods since 1988, according to its Web site.

It has distributed more than $1.25 billion to hundreds of New York City-based soup kitchens, homeless shelters, schools, job training programs and other vital services that give New York’s neediest citizens the tools they need to build better lives.

In addition, Robin Hood’s board of directors pays all administrative, fundraising and evaluation costs, so 100 percent of donations goes directly to organizations helping New Yorkers in need.

Check out the video below to learn more about the group’s mission and be sure to follow IM on Twitter for the latest galas and events.


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