Pulte family’s $111 million partnership provides Notre Dame with resources to fight poverty

Author: Dennis Brown


Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent every year to serve the poor in the United States and around the world. For this money to make a difference, it must be directed toward programs that deliver real, reliable outcomes for people in need.

The University of Notre Dame has developed a variety of tools to address the problems of the poor and to develop and measure the impact of anti-poverty programs. Now, thanks to a $111 million partnership between the University and the Pulte Family Charitable Foundation — the largest of its kind at Notre Dame — the University is positioned to enhance and expand its practices, teaching and research to create, identify and advance programs that best serve those most in need. The endowments provided by the foundation to Notre Dame will focus on serving those most in need, the most alienated and the most displaced.

“Words alone cannot express our gratitude to the Pulte family,” said Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president. “This truly is a transformational gift for Notre Dame, but, more importantly, for those who will benefit from new and better anti-poverty programs across the country and around the world.

“Our distinctive mission, our guiding faith, our global reach, the world’s best minds and our characteristic hope make this an enduring effort that, together with the Pulte Family Charitable Foundation, will find the best answers to the problem of poverty.”

In unity with Notre Dame’s commitment to Catholic social teaching, the Pulte endowments will expand a worldwide network of researchers, students, innovators and professionals who are dedicated to helping people escape debilitating cycles of poverty; make charitable organizations more effective; graduate the next generation of leaders in the field; create smarter and longer-lasting solutions to poverty; and enhance the University’s network of poverty action agencies, government officials and corporate leaders.

More specifically, the gifts included in the partnership will be directed primarily toward six initiatives at the University:

  • The Pulte Institute for Global Development, an integral part of the Keough School of Global Affairs that addresses global poverty and inequality through policy, practice and partnership. The institute designs, implements, monitors and evaluates projects and programs that sustainably enhance human dignity, equality and well-being for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable populations.
  • The William J. Pulte Directorship of the Pulte Institute for Global Development, currently held by Ray Offenheiser, a widely known nonprofit leader and innovator who previously served as president of Oxfam America.
  • The Pulte Endowment for Excellence for Global Affairs, to support the work of the Integration Lab in the Keough School of Global Affairs. The lab provides a distinctive series of interdisciplinary, innovative engagements with students, global partners and faculty mentors in multiple disciplines to address real-world issues and challenges, preparing Keough School graduates to become the next global leaders.
  • The William J. Pulte Endowment for Excellence in Social Innovation, to support the Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities, a research center in Notre Dame’s Department of Economics that uses top-tier impact evaluations to identify innovative, effective and scalable programs to help people move out of poverty.
  • The Fighting Irish Initiative, providing financial aid for Notre Dame students in need and funds for the Office of Student Enrichment. Fighting Irish Initiative recipients are often the first in their families to attend college, and have demonstrated great promise in the face of challenging circumstances. The initiative covers the full cost of attendance as well as resources and programming to help these young people acclimate to life as a Notre Dame student.
  • The William J. Pulte Endowed Scholarship Fund, which will be awarded to need-based students in the School of Architecture, College of Engineering, Keough School of Global Affairs and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.

“This remarkable gift ensures that Notre Dame will be at the forefront of institutions fighting poverty and reaching the marginalized people of the world,” said Scott Appleby, the Marilyn Keough Dean of the Keough School of Global Affairs. “The Pulte Institute for Global Development will enable us to extend our reach and to devise and implement creative, innovative solutions to the complex challenges facing those who lack sufficient housing, food and drinking water, and access to education and health care. We are honored to be in partnership with the Pulte family in advancing this crucial mission.”       

Bill Pulte, the founder of Pulte Homes — today, PulteGroup — passed away in March 2018. He was a loving, faith-filled family man to his 14 children, 27 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren; an active, silent philanthropist; and an innovator and master builder in the home building industry. His wife, Karen Pulte, resides in Naples, Florida, and is a member of Notre Dame’s advisory council for the Keough School of Global Affairs and has been a board member for International Samaritan for 25 years. She serves the family’s foundation as a board member and director of its scholarship program.  

“Bill was a selfless man, always thinking of others,” Karen Pulte said. “During our 25 years of wonderful marriage, he never wanted to draw attention to himself. When he retired, he focused on serving others and wanted to do what he could to help address the world’s biggest problems, especially world peace and poverty. We were founding members of International Samaritan, focused on the direct relief for families living in garbage dump towns in Central and South America.

“But Bill wanted more impact on a larger scale. That’s why the combination of the Pulte Family Charitable Foundation and Notre Dame makes so much sense. Together, we will leverage our resources to finally put an end to global poverty once and for all. It is a daunting task, but Bill Pulte always dreamed of a better tomorrow for all people. Bill would be very proud of this new relationship with Notre Dame.”

Other members of the Pulte family who direct the foundation are Mark Pulte and Nancy Pulte Rickard.

Nancy and Kevin Rickard live in Boca Raton, Florida, and have three children, one of whom graduated from Notre Dame. Nancy is a member of Notre Dame’s advisory council for the Keough School of Global Affairs.

She is the chairman of the board of directors and president of the Pulte Family Charitable Foundation. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Albion College and a master’s degree in public administration and economics from Bowling Green State University.

“What we do and the decisions we make now will make all the difference in our being a dynamic and relevant entity — taking on current and future philanthropic challenges and addressing humanitarian issues — versus an old-school foundation that functions under the most conservative principles and practices,” Nancy Pulte Rickard said. “Our alliance with Notre Dame will help us accomplish our long game both nationally and globally. In partnering with the University of Notre Dame, we will accomplish things we could never achieve on our own. In addition to sharing our core beliefs rooted in our Catholic faith, the University has a global reach with access to some of the world’s brightest minds, expertise, resources and all-around know-how for playing on different fields and winning when it comes to improving life systems for humanity.”

Julie and Mark Pulte reside in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and are the parents of six children, two of whom are graduates of Notre Dame. Mark Pulte earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from Notre Dame and Julie graduated from Saint Mary’s College.

Mark is the founder, president and chief executive officer of Mark Timothy Inc., a Florida-based luxury home building company that specializes in the design and construction of elegant homes. He is also a principal of Pulte Capital Partners, an investment firm. He previously worked at PulteGroup. He is a trustee of Holy Cross College and a member of Notre Dame’s advisory council for the School of Architecture. He serves as vice president and chief investment officer of the Pulte Family Charitable Foundation.

“Partnering with a great institution like Notre Dame gives the Pulte Foundation an immediate global presence to help combat poverty,” Mark Pulte said. “With today’s partnership, we are that much closer to helping many marginalized members of our shared family.”

Guided by the belief in the inherent dignity of all people, the Pulte Family Charitable Foundation works to meet the basic human needs of the most marginalized members of the human family, including socio-economically disadvantaged youth; the aged; persons with physical, emotional and mental disabilities; and those with the fewest material resources. In addition to the above, the foundation seeks to serve religious communities and correlative organizations of Judeo-Christian beliefs. To this end, the foundation strives to enact through its grantees the seven corporeal works of mercy: feed the hungry; give drink to the thirsty; clothe the naked; care for captives; shelter the homeless; visit the sick; and assist the mourning.

A portion of the Pulte Family Charitable Foundation gift will be held in a donor-advised fund, a philanthropic vehicle that leverages the Notre Dame endowment to maximize the impact of donor-advised assets with Notre Dame and other qualified charitable organizations.

These endowments are a component of the Boldly Notre Dame campaign.

Contact: Dennis Brown, assistant vice president for news and media relations


Originally published by Dennis Brown at news.nd.edu on November 25, 2019.