How the Kenneth Rainin Foundation Is Stepping Up Its Game

If you're running a nonprofit organization in the Bay Area and aren't yet familiar with the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, then you're missing out on some serious grant opportunities. This foundation may not be on a lot of radars, because it's relatively new in its current size, with assets of $143 million at the end of 2012. (See IP's profile of the Rainin Foundation.)

Kenneth Rainin was an entrepreneur who made his fortune founding scientific and medical product companies. When he passed away in 2007, the Kenneth Rainin Foundation received a majority of the estate. His daughter, Jennifer Rainin, runs the foundation, along with a small staff.

First, you should know that this Oakland-based foundation focuses on three things: inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), making young Oakland students literate, and small to mid-sized dance, theater, and film organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area. You should also know that the Rainin Foundation has recently made some staffing changes, so you'll likely be dealing with a different program officer than in the past.

Rainin's health program awards $100,000 awards for IBD research and long-term support for previous research award grantees. The foundation also hosts an annual symposium aimed at speeding innovations to cure IBD.

Only Oakland-based schools and nonprofits should bother applying for an education grant with Rainin, since the foundation is focused on the improving literacy rates for Oakland students up to the third grade. However, Rainin's arts program is more broad and serves the entire San Francisco Bay Area. The foundation has partnered up with the San Francisco Film Society to support projects that boost the Bay Area film-making community. Local dance and theater companies must be small or medium sized and engage audiences with experimental, dynamic collaborations to be considered for a grant.

The Rainin Foundation recently announced a couple of staffing changes that may very well affect how grantmaking goes in the year ahead. The foundation appointed Jackie Hausman as its new Health Program Officer, effective April 1. Before joining the team, Hausman worked for the Center for Health and Technology at the University of California, Davis, managing the pediatric tele-health program and the Model eHealth Community project for underserved communities. “Chronic illnesses like IBD can be debilitating. The Foundation’s focus on new and promising research directions and discoveries can lead to life-changing breakthroughs that can transform people’s lives. I’m excited about working with the Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board and engaging researchers in our efforts,” Hausman said in a press release.

In other recent news, Shelley Trott stepped up to the role of Director of Arts Strategy and Ventures, Susan True became the new Director of Education Strategy and Ventures, and Katie Fahey became the new Associate Program Officer for the Arts. All three women received promotions from their previous positions at the foundation, signaling a refocusing of grantmaking leadership. 

“Our staffing changes reflect our desire to be nimble and strategically responsive to a changing environment,” said Jennifer Rainin. “We are keenly focused on helping organizations maximize their impact, and our staff will no doubt contribute significantly to helping the Foundation succeed in our philanthropic endeavors.”

The Rainin Foundation has a lot of staff firepower for an outfit that gave out less than $3 million in 2012, which leads us to suspect that the foundation's giving is growing a lot. Indeed, some quick math suggests that the Rainin Foundation would have to give out around $7 million a year to meet its payout requirements on assets of $143 million. Our guess is that the 2013 giving data will show a number closer to that than the figure for 2012.

It's also possible that the foundation's assets grew in 2013, too, and may grow further. The foundation got $56 million in 2012 from Kenneth Rainin's estate, and there is probably more where that came from. 

A few words about Jennifer Rainin: She brings an interesting background to the job of running the foundation. She has PhD in education, and has worked as a teacher and literacy specialist. She's also dealt with some serious health issues following an ulcerative colitis diagnosis in 1997. And there's more: She's worked as an actress and has been involved in any number of charitable causes. So here's somebody who knows the worlds of education, health, and the arts in a personal way—the foundation's areas of work. (See IP's profile of Jennifer Rainin.)

Keep up with upcoming deadlines for letter of inquiries and grant proposals on the foundation's calendars for education, health, and the arts.