When asked about his many accomplishments, Andrew Klaber states the facts: summa cum laude graduate of Yale; MBA/JD from Harvard Business School and Harvard Law; investor at Paulson & Co. Inc., a leading hedge fund in New York. He sits on the boards of over half a dozen nonprofits, serves as co-chair of UJA-Federation’s Young Wall Street Division, and has run nine marathons.
But when Klaber discusses Even Ground, the nonprofit he founded in 2002 to help children in the developing world affected by HIV/AIDS, a light comes into his hazel eyes and his voice resonates with enthusiasm.
Visiting Thailand during college, Klaber saw something that distressed him: scores of teenage girls, including young teenagers, walking around with older, Western men. “It didn’t take too much time to figure out this was the sex trade, and most of these girls were in this line of work because they were trying to provide for their siblings because their parents had become ill with or had passed away from HIV/AIDS.”
Turning his outrage into action, Klaber founded Even Ground. Built on the principal of “social entrepreneurship,” or empowering young philanthropists and local communities to create and sustain their own programs, the organization, originally called Orphans Against AIDS, provided education and healthcare to 250 youth affected by HIV/AIDS in Thailand. After empowering local groups to take over, Klaber turned to other areas of need, namely South Africa and Uganda.
Today Even Ground provides academic scholarships, improved nutrition, and healthcare to over 700 children affected by HIV/AIDS. The organization also provides hundreds of women with the drug Nevirapine, which reduces the rate of congenital HIV transmission from mother to child.
Utilizing the social entrepreneurship model, Even Ground volunteers have launched and sustained numerous projects to promote education. One subdivision of Even Ground is Thanda Zulu, a financially self-sustaining company employing 100 South African women who make beaded jewelry and arts and crafts, and whose earnings help support their families.
“Thanda Zulu helps provide a living wage and promotes entrepreneurialism, not dependence,” Klaber says.
Family man: Chicago-raised Klaber, who is single, is very close with his family of origin, including his paternal grandmother Anne Klaber, 90, a Holocaust survivor. This year, he co-led a second-night seder to which he brought a gift she gave him: her 1929 hand-printed Weimar Republic Haggadah. “We are a small but close family,” Klaber says.
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