The Helen Diller Family Foundation: Grants for the Bay Area

OVERVIEW: The Helen Diller Family Foundation supports education, science, and the arts largely in the Bay Area and also in Israel.

FUNDING AREAS: Education, science, the arts

IP TAKE:  Education is the number one cause for this funder in the Bay Area. Most grants prioritize established institutions in the region.

PROFILE: Established in 1999, the Helen Diller Family Foundation is largely committed to giving in the Bay Area. This is the foundation of Sanford and Helen Diller, who are San Francisco natives who made their fortune in the Prometheus Real Estate Group, developing mostly apartments in the Bay Area and along the West Coast since 1980. In 2012, Helen Diller was awarded the Lifetime Achievement in Philanthropy Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Golden Gate Chapter. Grantmaking supports education, science, and the arts.

In the past, the Dillers gave $35 million to University of California San Francisco to establish the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Care Center. Upon that gift announcement, Helen Diller said that she and her husband were interested in building a new community in San Francisco and a facility that would bring scientists from all around the world to improve lives. Other Diller support in San Francisco includes major grants to UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, the De Young Museum, and renovations to the Julius Kahn Playground and Mission Dolores Park. The foundation also sponsors the Diller Family Award for Excellence in Education, which recognizes top educators. Diller programs have identified exceptional teachers in religious schools, often ones associated with Jewish temples, and awarded $10,000 supplemental income grants.

A large part of the Diller’s philanthropic mission is promoting Jewish life and causes. The couple gives through its Diller Teen Fellows program, which is affiliated with the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund of San Francisco. The Dillers believe that supporting the growth of Jewish teens will create the next generation of strong Jewish leaders, and this has been a big priority area for the founders for over 20 years. This fellowship is an international leadership program for Jewish teens and works with alumni to form an international network of Jewish leaders.

Foundation grants typically range from $10,000 well into the millions of dollars. Learn more about local giving by examining the foundation’s recent tax records. San Francisco is a big area of interest for the couple, but it also gives in the Peninsula, Marin County, and Sonoma County. Israel is also a significant interest.

The foundation does not appear to accept unsolicited grant applications from nonprofits. Direct general questions to the staff at 415-512-6239 or


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