5 Amazing Things Wall Street Is Doing for America

Wall Street is terrible! Except when it's not, of course. Here are five ways the Street is redeeming itself.

Feb 27, 2014 at 12:21PM

Bill Gates did not surprise very many people when he stepped down as the chairman of Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) last month to dedicate the rest of his life to his philanthropic mission. Gates has put charitable giving in the spotlight for some time now, creating the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with his wife in 2000, and then the Giving Pledge with Warren Buffett in 2010.

Gates derives much of his wealth from his stock holdings in Microsoft, and in this way, Wall Street has empowered him to dedicate his time and money to the needs of the world, at awe-inspiring levels. Outside of Gates' work, the wealth created by Wall Street is coming back to benefit this country in unprecedented ways. Here are five of the most impressive things Wall Street money is doing for America.

Wash Mon

The Washington Monument covered in scaffolding and undergoing repairs this past November.

1. Fixing the Washington Monument
David M. Rubenstein, billionaire co-founder of the Carlyle Group, has given away $300 million of his fortune. That includes the $7.5 million he chipped in to fund $15 million in repairs to the Washington Monument after the historic landmark was damaged in a 2011 earthquake. Rubenstein has spent a fair chunk of change on other projects that the federal government used to pay for, but can no longer afford. You can read more about his efforts here.

2. Restoring the Florida Everglades
Paul Tudor Jones, founder of Tudor Investments, is the chair of the Everglades Foundation, an organization that is committed to the total restoration of the Florida Everglades. The region is not only the largest subtropical wetlands area in the United States, and home to 67 endangered species, it's also the source of water for one out of every three Floridians. Thanks to generations of canal and dam building to support agriculture, the Everglades are half of their original size. The foundation's goal is to facilitate complete restoration of the region, reverse the damage, and protect the area for future generations. You can read more about the initiative here.

3. Revamping education
From Bill Ackman's contribution to DonorsChoose to Paul Tudor Jones' Robin Hood Foundation, improving our nation's lackluster education system is a big priority on Wall Street. Mike Bloomberg, Jeffrey Vinik, and George Soros are just a handful of big Wall Street names pouring dollars into education.

4. Empowering women and youth
In 2005, a group of women from the hedge fund community founded High Water Women to bring economic empowerment to women, educate at-risk youth, and lessen the impact of poverty on America's families. One particular accomplishment of the organization that should resonate with the Foolish community is the after-school program on financial literacy that it provides for middle school and high school students throughout New York City. You can read more about the group's achievements here.

5. Encouraging Wall Street to give back to Main Street
Julian Robertson, Jr. is one of the most highly regarded hedge fund managers ever, and his Tiger Foundation has worked to ameliorate poverty in New York City. Equally important is the foundation's work to encourage philanthropic giving among investment professionals.

As the Chronicle of Philanthropy writes, "In 1889 the steel magnate Andrew Carnegie wrote an essay outlining his 'gospel of wealth' to encourage his rich contemporaries to give their money away in the service of society. To his disappointment, none responded." But when Robertson offered to match the foundation donations of his protégés, he was met with gifts in the tens of millions, yielding a total gift of $200 million when all was said and done. You can read more about his foundation's work here.

Bottom line
Wall Street has a terrible reputation, and quite frankly, much of it is deserved. The soaring salaries, the cheating, the greed; it can really wear on you after a while. The flip side of that, however, is unprecedented generosity from an unprecedented number of people. Most of us will go through life without being affected by Wall Street in a meaningful way. Some of us will be touched directly, and be better for it.

A path to Wall Street's riches?
The one sure way to get wealthy is to invest in a groundbreaking company that goes on to dominate a multibillion-dollar industry. Our analysts have done it before with the likes of Amazon and Netflix. And now they think they've done it again with three stock picks that they believe could generate the same type of phenomenal returns. They've revealed these picks in a new free report that you can download instantly by clicking here now.

Aimee Duffy has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of fool.com.

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to www.fool.com/beginners, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at www.fool.com/podcasts.

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.

Compare Brokers