UPDATE 1-KKR's Kravis pledges $100 mln to Columbia
* Kravis graduated from Columbia Business School in 1969
* Gift to be used to construct a facility for entrepreneurs (Adds comments by Kravis)
By Megan Davies
NEW YORK, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Henry Kravis, co-founder of private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co (KKR.N), has pledged $100 million to the Columbia Business School to help construct new facilities, the school and Kravis announced on Tuesday.
The school, part of Columbia University, offers MBA programs and runs community programs in Manhattan's West Harlem area. It said the gift was the largest in the school's history.
Kravis, who earned his MBA from the Columbia University Graduate School of Business in 1969, said that he wanted others to benefit the way he had from the university.
"Business school helped me nurture my dreams," Kravis said at an event to announce the project in Harlem on Tuesday.
The facility will allow students, alumni and neighboring communities to meet, learn from each other and to foster small businesses in the community, Kravis said.
"We are constructing not just a building, but really a building where entrepreneurs and the community can meet," he said. "I'm an entrepreneur. I know what it takes to be successful. I know you need that one break."
Kravis, known as the "buyout king" for clinching numerous leveraged buyout deals, co-founded KKR in 1976 with George Roberts and Jerome Kohlberg Jr.
The company, which made its name with the leveraged buyout of RJR Nabisco in 1988, listed on the New York Stock Exchange in July.
"Thirty-four years ago, with two other partners, I was able to start a business that is KKR," said Kravis. "I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, I thought I had it in me, and that means ... working without a safety net. I look back and say: 'Thank God I followed my dream.'"
Other private equity entrepreneurs, who made billions in the past few decades, have donated money to various causes.
Stephen Schwarzman, chief executive officer of private equity firm Blackstone Group LP (BX.N), said in April he was launching a program to create thousands of jobs in communities hit the hardest by the financial meltdown.
Carlyle Group [CYL.UL] co-founder David Rubenstein said in March he now spends about 25 percent of his time on philanthropic activities. (Reporting by Megan Davies, editing by Dave Zimmerman and Matthew Lewis)
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