Learn it, Earn it, Return it.
It’s David Tepper’s personal philosophy that has shaped his entire career and serves as the backbone of his approach to his ownership of the Carolina Panthers: Develop a winning organization that is consistently competitive year after year, and give back to those who need it most in the Panthers community.
Learn it, Earn it, Return it.
It’s David Tepper’s personal philosophy that has shaped his entire career and serves as the backbone of his approach as the owner of the Carolina Panthers. He firmly believes in developing a winning organization that is consistently competitive year after year and gives back to those who need it most in the Panthers community.
Tepper, a passionate, lifelong NFL fan, purchased the Panthers in July 2018, after partnering with the Pittsburgh Steelers ownership group for nine years.
Tepper’s path to becoming the newest NFL owner was not well-worn.
He grew up in Stanton Heights, a working-class neighborhood of Pittsburgh. As a kid, he played touch football in the streets and tackle football in the nearby cemetery. Tepper attended an inner-city high school and went on to receive his undergraduate degree in 1978 from the University of Pittsburgh and his MBA from Carnegie Mellon University in 1982.
Tepper paid his own way through school and earned money as a short-order cook at a deli, selling knives door to door, working at a bakery, and stacking books in the library. Following his graduation from CMU, Tepper took a job at Republic Steel, a 100-year old company. In two years, Republic Steel had to merge to avoid bankruptcy, and during that period they were trying to save the company, Republic did more finance deals than ever in its 100-year history. Tepper saw this as an opportunity, learning from each one of them valuable lessons that would stay with him for the rest of his career.
This experience led to Tepper taking a job at a mutual fund specializing in distressed companies, and eventually to Goldman Sachs, a New York bank. Tepper joined the firm in 1985 as a credit analyst, later becoming the head trader in the firm’s high yield department. After getting passed over for Partner, he established his own investment firm in 1993, Appaloosa Management.
Today, Tepper is widely considered one of the most successful investors of his generation, and Appaloosa Management has consistently outperformed industry peers and the broader global market since inception.
Following lessons learned in his early childhood to give to those less fortunate, and inspired by his mother, a public-school teacher, Tepper is deeply passionate about helping everyone meet their basic needs. He started The David A. Tepper Charitable Foundation, Inc. as a way to further his belief that everyone deserves an education, access to healthcare resources, and no one should go to bed hungry. Tepper is an active member in his local communities and champions philanthropic efforts in the Carolinas, Florida, New Jersey, and the greater Pittsburgh area.
As owner, Tepper’s philosophy is to win on the field and in the community. He has focused his efforts on expanding the team’s charitable engagement in the Carolinas and donated nearly half a million dollars in his first season alone. He kicked off the 2018 school year at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ Thomasboro Academy by distributing backpacks and school supplies to 12,000 students, and later presented local teachers with mid-year funding, in partnership with Classroom Central, a local organization that provides supplies to students in need. Tepper made significant contributions to local food banks in North and South Carolina as well.
He also supports the players and coaches hard work off the field in giving back to their communities, which has included contributions to the Panthers’ Player Impact Committee, the Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte and the Ronald McDonald House in Charlotte. This spring he launched the first Keep Pounding Day dedicated to community service initiatives across North and South Carolina.
In March, Tepper funded the West Charlotte High School basketball team’s travel and accommodations for its trip to the state championship game in Raleigh.
In New Jersey, Tepper helped fund Single Stop’s efforts to assist individuals in applying for benefits in the state. The organization is a non-profit focused on eradicating poverty by connecting people in need to governmental anti-poverty resources. Additional organizations he supports include: the Community FoodBank of New Jersey and the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. Tepper also supports UNICEF, CARE, and Action Against Hunger.
Tepper is also dedicated to reforming public school education in New Jersey and founded the Better Education Institute, a non-profit organization, to further this mission, as well as Better Education for Kids, which has handed out over 100,000 backpacks with school supplies to children in need. Previously, Tepper has partnered with national education organizations including Teach for America, Uncommon Schools, and ORT America.
Supporting organizations focused on health is another area of importance for Tepper and the Foundation. He has backed groups that sponsor research and raise awareness for a variety of diseases, such as the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, Ace Lymphoma and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. In New York, Tepper has been a generous benefactor to the Phoenix House, a drug rehabilitation center.
Tepper has played an integral role in providing natural disaster relief nationwide and in Puerto Rico, following hurricanes Maria, Irma, and Harvey. Tepper’s foundation partnered with the national organization, Feeding America, to donate $3 million to rebuild critical food distribution networks and enable 24 food banks nationwide to purchase new refrigerated trucks, which became known as the “Tepper Fleet.” Additionally, his Foundation and Appaloosa have donated $1 million towards the construction of a new food bank in Puerto Rico. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Tepper donated $1.2 million to relief efforts across New Jersey and made contributions to local food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters to help those displaced by the storm. After Hurricane Florence flooded the coast of North and South Carolina, Carolina Panthers Charities and the Tepper Foundation donated $1 million to the American Red Cross and $450,000 to regional food banks by providing 25,000 emergency food packs to help communities begin recovering.
He serves on the Boards of Blue Meridian, a partnership of impact-driven philanthropists seeking to change the odds for America’s children and youth living in poverty, and the Robin Hood Foundation, New York’s largest poverty-fighting organization.
Tepper serves on the Board of Trustees of Carnegie Mellon University and the Business Board of Advisors for the Tepper School of Business. In the spring 2018, Tepper received an honorary Doctor of Business Practice from Carnegie Mellon University, where he delivered the commencement speech emphasizing the value of thanking people, doing what’s right, and above all; learning, earning and returning. He brings these life lessons and more to the Panthers.
A family-oriented person, Tepper is the father of three children.