Big on Education and the Arts: A Look Inside the Crankstart Foundation

The Crankstart Foundation is the charitable outfit of Michael Moritz and his wife Harriet Heyman. The couple has signed the Giving Pledge. The couple's largest gifts have gone to Moritz's alma mater, Oxford, including a single gift of $116 million. Still, in recent years, quite a bit of money from the Crankstart Foundation has gone to Bay Area outfits. It's important to note, however, that the foundation currently only contributes to preselected organizations. However, the couple's grantmaking in education and arts is worth knowing about. Here's what the Crankstart Foundation is into in the bay area:

1. Research and education are interests

In 2013, the couple gave $30 million to help establish the UCSF Discovery Fellows Program, which will fund basic science Ph.D. programs such as cell biology, biochemistry, and neuroscience. $70,000 also went to the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, and more modest sums have gone to UC Berkeley recently. The couple's gift to UCSF was a matching one, and it appears that the other $30 million will be raised by December 2015. Harriet also volunteers at a UCSF lab, and in a previous life, Moritz wrote about science and technology.

Arts education is also of interest to this couple. In the Bay Area, recent sums of under $100,000 have gone to Oakland School of the Arts, and San Francisco Arts Education. Money has also recently gone to College Track, and BASIC Fund, which provides partial-tuition scholarships to low-income families in the Bay Area.

2. The couple supports arts and culture in the Bay Area

More than $1 million each went to the San Francisco Museum of Art and SF Jazz in 2013. Other recent grantees include Bolinas Museum, Randall Museum, the San Francisco Opera, the San Francisco Ballet, and the San Francisco Orchestra. Outside of the Bay Area, even, at least $1 million went to Juilliard in 2013, and large sums have also gone to New World Symphony in Miami Beach. The couple was recently involved in a campaign that allowed the San Francisco Museum of Art to offer free admission to visitors under 18.

The interesting thing about this couple's philanthropy is that it doesn't necessarily include a lot of board memberships yet. Perhaps this will change down the line.

3. Assorted other Bay Area groups have been supported

Money has recently gone to community organizations such as the SF Food Bank, and Omega Boys Club of San Francisco, which received nearly $200,000 in 2013. A component of the couple's philanthropy also involves environmental conservation, and Marin Agricultural Land Trust, and the Environmental Defense Fund have received recent support. In addition, the Mesa Park Agency in Marin County has received at least $1.5 million, and the Firehouse Community Park in Sacramento has received funding also.

4. This is likely just the beginning

As signatories of the Giving Pledge with a current net worth of $2.6 billion, Moritz and Heyman are likely to be major givers for some time to come, and the sums going out the door will likely rise. It's important to note that right now, the foundation is only giving to preselected organizations, and a look at annual tax forms tells the story of a select number of groups receiving funding on an annual basis. The foundation has no website or channel for grantseekers to get in touch. 

Related - Crankstart Foundation: Bay Area Grants