A Bridge to Philanthropy

When he graduated from Wharton, K. Robert (Bobby) Turner, W’84, says that he left with a black belt in creating wealth.

But in the midst of a successful career, he came to a stark realization: Money and success in business just weren’t enough.

“Wealth should not be confused with happiness, nor should you assume there’s any correlation between the two,” he said. “The reality is, when all is said and done, it’s not what kind of car you drive, what kind of house you live in, how much money you have—it’s about being happy, it’s about being fulfilled and having a sense of accomplishment.”

He and his wife, Lauren Golub Turner, W’85, aim to share this knowledge with Wharton and Penn students through the Lauren and Bobby Turner Social Impact Executive Speaker Series, which features financially successful individuals who have an impact socially.

Chris “Ludacris” Bridges waits backstage before another trip into the spotlight.

This year’s installment featured rap sensation, actor and philanthropist Chris “Ludacris” Bridges.

To say Bridges is successful is an understatement. His music career has yielded 17 Grammy nominations and three awards. His Soul by Ludacris headphones are a top-selling brand. His acting career has resulted in roles in more than a dozen films and a Screen Actors Guild Award. But he notes that his greatest accomplishment—beyond his family—has been his philanthropic work, primarily through the Ludacris Foundation.

“I have been very fortunate,” he said to an audience of Wharton and Penn undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and youths from West Philadelphia schools. “Giving back brings everything full circle.”

His dedication to community service began when he worked as on-air talent at an Atlanta radio station and his employer required that all staff volunteer on a weekly basis.

“I was a local celebrity at the time and ended up visiting a lot of kids who thought the world of me,” he reminisced. “Once I started noticing the impact and influence I had over these kids, I instantly fell in love with giving back. When I got signed, I was able to give back more and more as my influence got bigger and bigger.”

Bobby Turner, W’84, pumps up the crowd before Ludacris' appearance.

The Ludacris Foundation has a strong focus on supporting youth and educational programming and has launched initiatives ranging from nutrition programming for children to providing housing assistance for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Bridges added that his organization seeks community involvement and does not simply aim to provide funding.

“I’m very, very hands-on,” he said. “There are a lot of people who write checks, but don’t give time. I think it’s just as important to be there.”

The Lauren and Bobby Turner Social Impact Executive Speaker Series has been held annually since 2010. Prior speakers were Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Andre Agassi. The 2012 event was hosted on April 3.

(Editor’s note: Watch a video of the Chris “Ludacris” Bridges talk here. Photos by Shira Yudkoff.)

 

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