Goldman Heirs Follow Family Legacy with Conservation in the Bay Area and Beyond

When Bay Area philanthropists Richard and Rhoda Goldman passed away, their wealth split between three heirs. Since then, the philanthropy of son Douglas and his wife Lisa has been ramping up. One of their keen interests is carrying on the family's legacy of conservation.  

The elder Goldmans were philanthropic legends in northern California, especially among local Jewish organizations. But the name also sparks a twinkle in the eye of environmentalists, in part because of the establishment of the Goldman Environmental Prize in 1990, rewarding grassroots efforts globally. 

Related - The Six Winners of the 'Green Nobel' for Grassroots Activism

When Richard and Rhoda, who was an heiress to the Levi Strauss fortune and a director of the family apparel company, had both passed, their foundation ended and the family fortune was divvied up between two Goldman sons and a daughter, Susan Gelman. The heirs and their families have all continued the family’s philanthropy, although each with their own specific interests. John and Marcia Goldman, for example, fund arts, science, health, and youth organizations. Gelman is mostly focused on Jewish causes. 

But our interest today is in Lisa and Douglas Goldman, a couple who remain in the Bay Area and have developed a growing and diverse portfolio of grantmaking. Even on the environment front, one of their whopping eight funding interests has three pretty different sub-focuses. 

The couple funds work on consumption habits and green business practices, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, plus several conservation projects focused on the Bay Area. 

Their conservation efforts span oceans work, green space, and beloved Northern California locales. The foundation made 11 grants to such projects in 2014. For example:

  • One recent grant of $50,000 went to Portland-based Western Rivers Conservancy toward a project to establish a salmon sanctuary and climate preserve in the temperate forests of northwestern California.
  • The Siskiyou Land Conservancy based in Arcata landed its second $25,000 grant from the funder for its work to keep pesticides out of the Smith River, an important location for salmon and steelhead trout migration.
  • The Reef Check Foundation has received funding from Goldman the past three years for its work to organize volunteers in support of Marine Protected Areas in California. 


It’s also worth noting that some of the foundation’s environmental grants come from its program for San Francisco Bay Area Institutions and Projects. One example is support for the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. And a unique one for Goldman is a three-year, $150,000 grant for the Marine Mammal Center, to build new care and quarantine pens at the wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center.

One nice thing about the Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund is that it doesn’t focus on the massive environmental groups, and takes the time to give out several five-digit awards to local champs for conservation work. It even gives out the occasional $5,000 or even $1,000 grant. 

And take note: While the fund is relatively modest, its assets and giving have been growing. Goldman made $12.4 million in grants in 2014, up from $7.6 million in giving in 2011. 

Peruse grants further at the foundation’s website

Related - Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund: Bay Area Grants