By Megan Davies

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Henry Kravis, co-founder of
private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co, has
pledged $100 million to the Columbia Business School to help
construct new facilities, the school and Kravis announced
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 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, said in April he was
launching a program to create thousands of jobs in communities
hit the hardest by the financial meltdown.

Carlyle Group 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)