How a Former Tech CEO and His Former State Senator Wife Do Their Philanthropy

Now retired, James C. Morgan served as chairman of the board and CEO of Santa Clara, California-based Applied Materials, a global leader in materials engineering solutions for the semiconductor, flat panel display and solar PV industries. Morgan earned a BSME and an MBA from Cornell University; he met his wife Becky Quinn Morgan while the two were at Cornell. Becky also has a degree from Stanford Business School, and spent nearly two decades as an elected official, including nine years as a California State Senator.

This Northern California power couple has, unsurprisingly, been engaged in philanthropy for years. In 1993, they established the Morgan Family Foundation, which focuses its grantmaking on youth and children, education, the environment and stewardship. The Morgans focus their philanthropy on California, especially the northern part of the state. The foundation's website is accessible, has a list of fairly recent grants, and even provides a document of guiding principles. Unfortunately, the Morgan Family Foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals or LOIs.

The foundation's Youth grantmaking area "supports programs that address the developmental needs of youth and their families." A major grantee is Teen Success, a Milpitas, California, outfit that Becky chairs and helped create. Teen Success works to transform "the lives of underserved teen mothers and their children by helping them become educated, self-sufficient, valued members of society." Other recent grants have gone to outfits such as Bay Area Women's Sports Initiative (BAWSI), and Children's Chorus of Washington.

The Morgan Family Foundation's education grantmaking has involved Eastside College Preparatory School, Teach for America Bay Area, and Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research(SIEPR). The couple has also supported their mutual alma mater, Cornell: A few years ago, a tidy $10 million gift went to the university.

Morgan has given to San Jose State University, including multi-year funding for that school's collaborative Reaching & Teaching the Whole Child (CRTWC). The specific goals of the project are to "prepare new teachers with an understanding of how their own social-emotional needs and skills as educators impact their responses to students" and to "prepare teachers who know how to embed social-emotional learning (SEL) skills into their curriculum and management of the classroom, helping their students become resilient and able to thrive in academic work and beyond." (Becky Morgan, by the way, in addition to being involved in government, has served on the Palo Alto board of education, taught special education classes, and served as a substitute teacher.)

The couple also has a strong interest in the environment. They co-founded Northern Sierra Partnership, a "collaborative initiative to preserve, restore, and enhance the magnificent natural landscape of the Northern Sierra Nevada, and build the foundation for sustainable rural economies." The couple also supports outfits including Nature Conservancy (Morgan sits on the board of Nature Conservancy of California), Yosemite Conservancy, Feather River Land Trust, and Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

The Morgan Family Foundation also makes grants through its stewardship program area. By "stewardship," the foundation means "efforts to strengthen communities and regions through existing and new organizations." Collaboration is key here: Morgan wants to "forge collaborative, multi-sector models of stewardship for economic, environmental, social, and governance improvements."

The Morgan Family Foundation launched the California Stewardship Network to "develop and support innovative regional solutions to California’s most pressing economic, environmental, and community challenges." Currently, 12 regions participate in the network: the CSN may be a good way in for grantseekers. Since 2012, CSN has partnered with California Forward to launch a bi-annual California Economic Summit; regional forums are held in advance of these meetings.

Assorted grants have also gone to arts and culture outfits such as Asian Art Museum and TheatreWorks, and to health outfits such as Bay Area Cancer Connections. The Morgan Family Foundation provides a list of recent grants on its website.

Related: James C. Morgan

Related: Morgan Family Foundation: Bay Area Grants