“I Was That Kid.” A New York Real Estate Mogul’s Emerging Giving Focuses on Youth

This article by Ade Adeniji was originally published on Inside Philanthropy

Daniel Neiditch is president of River 2 River Realty, a New York-based agency that has been responsible for over $1 billion in acquisitions over the past decade. Boston University graduate Neiditch is also president of Midtown Manhattan’s Atelier Condo, which offers a penthouse that comes with two Rolls-Royces and a yacht. While he is a high-flyer these days, it didn’t start out that way for the Bronx native.

“Growing up in the Bronx wasn’t easy. But it drove me to be successful,” he told me in a recent interview.

Neiditch has not established a formal foundation, but has been increasingly involved in philanthropy at a relatively young age. His nascent giving is focused on empowering children, particularly those from underprivileged backgrounds.

“Children are innocent and sacred,” he says.

For about five years, he’s been involved with Room to Grow, which offers structured coaching, material goods and community connections to support parents and their children. The real estate mogul linked up with Bruce Willis and Uma Thurman for Room to Grow’s annual benefit, and will host this year’s event virtually next month. Neiditch is keen on this charity because it works with disadvantaged kids and their families in his native borough. He’s also involved with Literacy Partners, which he found out about through his friend John Josephson, a former board member for the group.

Through his career in realty and a range of celebrity clients with whom he’s worked — including Michael Douglas, Hillary Duff, and Lindsay Lohan — a key component of Neiditch’s philanthropy involves not just writing checks, but also using his prominent connections to raise awareness and funds.

As we’ve covered before, athletes and celebrities, including pop icon Rihanna, have a unique advantage as philanthropists, in that they can use their platforms to pull together fundraising events and inform the public about an issue. While not a celebrity himself, Neiditch has carried out a similar strategy by relying on his contacts. Consider a celebrity boxing event he organized atop one of his buildings in Midtown, featuring heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, whose signed gloves were auctioned for charity. Neiditch reports that the event raised over $100,000, but not before the businessman who won the auction landed a few blows on the boxer, of course.

Back in New York’s northernmost borough, Neiditch is also involved with Kingsbridge Heights Community Center, where he recently hosted an event with artist Jeff Koons. KHCC provides resources to advance the education and well-being of Bronx residents, supporting them from cradle to career. The event raised about $500,000 to support the community center. He’s also worked with SAY: The Stuttering Association for the Young, hosting an event with Paul Rudd. He supports St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, as well.

“I’m almost full-time right now,” Neiditch says of his philanthropy. “I’ve kind of stepped away from my business and have gotten more involved in charity these days. I’d like to do as much as I can while I’m able.” This pivot to giving is notable, considering that Neiditch is still quite young, graduating from Boston University with degrees in 1999 and 2001.

Also a chief emergency first responder in Brooklyn, Neiditch prefers to stay active in his philanthropy, too, visiting shelters and community centers on the ground. He also mentioned doing a talk with the Police Athletic League, convinced that during a polarized time, it’s important that communities and police officers continue to engage in dialogue. He’s also worked with PAL on a New Year’s Eve event supporting the homeless.

“We can’t just neglect the homeless in this country. It doesn’t have to happen,” Neiditch says, pivoting to one of his other philanthropic concerns.

As a child, Neiditch dealt with his own family members’ addiction issues. He also witnessed the financial struggles of people in his neighborhood while growing up, which has influenced his giving. Neiditch talks movingly about James, a veteran with long grey hair, who lost his job and was evicted from his apartment after he returned from the service. James would go on job interviews in his worn suit, eager for opportunity, but struggled to get out of this vicious cycle. “He would walk me to school and we got to know each other,” Neiditch says.

One day, though, Neiditch couldn’t find James in his usual haunts. After asking around, he found out that James had passed away during a subzero winter night in the city.

Moved by such stories, Neiditch says he wants to work toward eradicating homelessness in the United States. He even spent three nights living on the streets of New York to better understand the experience, as he describes in a Huffpost blog: “I opted to do this in March when it was still cold, because the majority of the 212 homeless deaths (including infant deaths) of 2015 were in the coldest months from January to late March, and that’s just in New York — and only a two-month snapshot at that. The rest of the country is not immune, either…. the plight of the homeless is that society dehumanizes them.”

Neiditch has helped people experiencing homelessness in New York by putting them up in apartments and helping them get jobs. “Rather than the City of New York paying $1,000 a night to put someone up in a hotel, we can give them a job and an apartment,” he explains, emphasizing how philanthropy can be an important ally to local government.

While much of Neiditch’s nascent philanthropy focuses on his native Gotham, he also has an eye toward global causes, having visited Africa. He’s worked with the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, which helped the citizens of Haiti rebuild after the devastating earthquake of 2010.

But ultimately, homelessness and children’s education and health are the causes this young donor will be focused on the most as he continues ramp up his giving in coming years. And like many funders drawn to such issues, these interests are highly personal.

President @ River 2 River Realty. Managing >1 billion dollars in real estate since R2R’s founding. Owner of Atelier condo. http://danielneiditch.nyc/