Crankstart Foundation: Bay Area Grants

OVERVIEW: The Crankstart Foundation is the charitable outfit of Michael Moritz and his wife Harriet. The couple's philanthropy in the Bay Area is mainly focused on education, and arts and culture, but support has also gone to parks and human services. 

FUNDING AREAS: Education, arts & culture, San Francisco community

IP TAKE: While a lot of the couple's philanthropy has focused on supporting Moritz's alma mater, Oxford, quite a bit of money has also found its way stateside, specifically to the Bay Area. The Crankstart Foundation has no website and only contributes to preselected organizations.

PROFILE: Moritz was born in Wales and attended Oxford, where he earned a B.A. in history. He later came to the states and received an M.B.A. from Wharton. He worked briefly as a writer for Time, wrote a book on Apple computers, and coauthored another on Chrysler before joining the tech investment firm Sequoia Capital in 1986. Moritz has stepped away from the day-to-day management of Sequoia because of a rare but manageable medical condition.

Moritz and his wife Harriet are Giving Pledge signatories, and in 2000, founded the Crankstart Foundation. Moritz's single largest gift to date has been a $116 million donation to his alma mater, Oxford University. This isn't the only gift that Moritz has given to Oxford, either. 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 contributes only to preselected organizations.

One interest of the couple in the Bay Area is education. In the past, the couple gave $30 million to help establish the UCSF Discovery Fellows Program, which funds 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.

Apart from higher education, the couple has also supported local college preparation groups such as College Track, and an interesting outfit called Room to Read, which focuses on literacy and gender equality in education in the developing world. Money has also gone to the BASIC Fund, which provides partial-tuition scholarships to low-income families in the Bay Area. As well, there's a component of Crankstart's philanthropy that involves arts education, with recent sums under $100,000 going to Oakland School of the Arts, and San Francisco Arts Education.

Speaking of art, another big interest of the couple is supporting arts organizations in the Bay Area. More than $1 million each went to the San Francisco Museum of Art and SF Jazz. The couple was also involved in raising part of the $10 million dollar endowment for the San Francisco Museum of Art, allowing the museum to offer free admission to visitors under 18. More modest sums have gone to Bolinas Museum, Merola Opera Program, the San Francisco Opera, and the San Francisco Ballet. Outside of the Bay Area, recent large sums have found their way to Juilliard, and New World Symphony in Miami Beach, so this is clearly an interest of this funder.

Apart from arts and education, assorted sums gave gone to Jewish organizations such as the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco. Money has also gone to community organizations such as the SF Food Bank, and Omega Boys Club of San Francisco, which received nearly $200,000. A component of the couple's philanthropy also involves environmental conservation, where 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.

At the end of a recent year, the foundation reported over $779 million in assets and more than $17 million in total giving.


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Crankstart Foundation
1801 Page Mill Rd.
Palo Alto, CA 94304
(650) 845-8100