What's the Founder of Craigslist Up to With His Philanthropy?

In his own quiet way, Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, is among the more intriguing figures of the tech world. Not only has he never really joined the mad scramble for big wealth, Newmark never much changed the early formula of the classifieds website he founded back in 1995—which, some 20 years later, still very much looks like a site from the 1990s. 

But rest assured that Newmark is making plenty of money. He is said to be the largest stakeholder of the privately held Craigslist, which reportedly had 2015 profits of some $300 million. As we've previously reported, he's channeling some of these winnings to philanthropy. 

Related: IP profile of Craig Newmark

On his website Craigconnects, Newmark lists a few of the organizations he supports, and those where he serves on the board. These commitments reveal an interest in things like journalistic integrity, community building and net neutrality.  We've also noted Newmark's interest in veterans and education. However, like the site that made him wealthy, this tech entrepreneur is mainly interested in connecting people. Craigconnects doesn't just list nonprofits Newmark is involved in, it also nurtures and publicizes them so that others might hop aboard, too. 

As Newmark puts it:

Beyond that, I’ve learned a lot that can be applied to the common good and I’m doing that on this site. I don’t expect to be a “leader” with this thing. I’d rather be a builder. I’d like to build a way for people doing good work to connect, to learn from each other, protect each other, and then I want to get out of their way.

In that vein, Newmark recently donated $50,000 to fund scholarships at the University of San Francisco (USF). The funds will be awarded to students in the USF in D.C. program, which immerses them in "the unique political and social culture of the nation’s capital." USF in D.C. is a program operated by the University of San Francisco's Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good, which is dedicated to inspiring and preparing students for careers of ethical public service.

Selected students not only participate in internships, they also reside at the UC Washington Center, with like-minded students from other UC campuses, as well as University of Michigan, Notre Dame, and University of Pennsylvania. Faculty also hail from multiple schools. 

Newmark has been on the board of the McCarthy Center for nearly a decade. As he puts it, "The McCarthy Center helps people in San Francisco neighborhoods in the here and now, and it also educates potential neighborhood leaders for long-term civic engagement. Everybody wins."

Though a New Jersey native who then attended Case Western, Newmark moved west and launched Craiglist a stone's throw away from University of San Francisco; it makes sense that the Bay Area resident would be interested in fostering leaders in his community. More than that, though, Newmark's involvement with the McCarthy Center and his recent gift supporting scholarships, seems consistent with his role as a builder and facilitator.

Other programming by the McCarthy Center includes Advocates for Community Engagement (ACE), which "develops socially responsible, civically engaged student leaders who facilitate quality service-learning experiences for all stakeholders and advocate for the common good of the community."

USF in D.C., meanwhile, has provided internships with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's Office, House Judiciary Committee, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, and Center for American Progress, among others. Up to ten students will be awarded a $5,000 Newmark Scholarship in the 2016-17 academic year. Students are required required to complete a full-time internship, where they work at government offices and advocacy groups.

Finally, it's worth noting that Newmark has also supported Aspen Institute's Partners for a New Beginning, which aims to foster "public private partnerships that advance entrepreneurship, exchange, increase educational opportunity and support science and technology." Newmark is also on the board of Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service.