While many celebrities’ kids find themselves following in their parents’ footsteps by joining the world of show business, the son of revered actor Robin Williams—who unexpectedly passed away a year ago today—is doing something very different. Zak Williams is honoring his late father by using his finance skills to give back.

Rather than take after his father and act, Zak Williams is using his specialty in finance for running a program to educate prisoners about money and economics. Williams, who earned his MBA at Columbia University, co-teaches a weekly finance class for incarcerated men at San Quentin State Prison in California.

“I come from an entitled background where I could have not worked hard—just coasted for a chunk of my life, up to a point,” Williams said in a recent interview with Today. “But I opted to take pride and joy in the work that I do and to establish accountability.”


So why finance? Williams says it’s because it aligns with his passion for analyzing investors and the market. “It’s developing a different understanding of a market, and it [fosters] a deeper understanding of the economy and the human condition as a whole,” explains Williams. The classes are designed to not only teach incarcerated men about the ins and outs of personal finance, but also focus on how to navigate profitable investment strategies.

So although Robin Williams’ acting and comedy legacy may not have been passed down to his son Zak, his humanitarian and philanthropist spirit certainly did. “I think he would have loved the program and loved participating,” says junior Williams. “We know he’s there in their spirit.”


Nessif, B., “Robin Williams’ Son Zak Talks Teaching Finance to Prisoners, Says Late Dad ‘Would Have Loved the Program,’” E! News web site, August 11, 2015; http://goo.gl/YrjBQ9.

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