This Bay Area Foundation is Splitting Four Ways: What Happens Next?

It’s been a while since we touched base with the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation, a funder that’s been huge in the Bay Area and beyond. Gerbode has been a long-time supporter of reproductive freedom, conservation of the Hawaiian Islands and the San Francisco Bay, the Death with Dignity movement, civic engagement, nonprofit leadership, and the arts.

It’s been on the grantmaking scene since the 1970s, but 2016 has been an important year for this funder. It’s important because we’re in the midst of a pause and a time of transformation.

At the beginning of 2016, the foundation issued a press release that shared it would be restructuring after 40 years of being a trailblazer in local grantmaking. That reorganizing process began on March 1, and since then, all has been quite on the Gerbode grantmaking front.

Although we’re still waiting for details about how the new grantmaking entities will shift, let’s take a closer look at what we do know so far. For one, now there will be four foundations instead of one.

The trustees decided to leave half of the current assets of the Gerbode Foundation where they are and take the remaining half to split into three separate private grantmaking foundations. The purpose of this is to allow the next generation of Gerbodes to pursue their own philanthropic interests, which presumably aren’t neatly aligned with one another.

Historically, the Gerbode Foundation has been known as a funder that takes on issues that other funders wouldn’t. In the Bay Area, in particular, it has had a long-time interest in capacity building for local nonprofits and providing venture capital for public interest work.

However, where grantmaking is going next is yet to be seen, and the family keeps a relatively low profile. Sharon Gerbode is the chair of the board of directors, and Frank A. Gerbode MD is the vice chair and treasurer. Frank is a retired and well-published psychiatrist. Colin Gerbode is the vice chair and secretary. Charles A. Stockholm, a semi-retired business exec with decades of commercial financial experience in the Asia-Pacific region, is a director. Maryanna G. Stockholm is another director here.

So during this year of pause, the Gerbode Foundation is not currently accepting unsolicited grant applications, and there has been no indication of when that’ll pick back up again. Until then, your best point of contact is Stacie Ma’a, who’s the foundation president in the funder’s Berkeley office. She’s been with the foundation for 17 years and has been its president for about two.

At the end of 2015, the foundation reported $62,987,897 in assets. It approved over $3.5 million in grants that year and paid out more than $1.6 million in grants then. Keep an eye on this funder’s website for updates about its new phase of grantmaking. You know we’ll be watching too, hoping for some news at least by early 2017.