Crankstart Foundation: Grants for the Bay Area

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

FUNDING AREAS: Education, arts and culture, San Francisco community, civil rights, gun safety

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.

PROFILE: Established in 2000, the Crankstart Foundation is based in Palo Alto, California and is the foundation of Michael and Harriet Mortiz. Michael 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 and his wife Harriet are Giving Pledge signatories. They focus their philanthropy on education, arts and culture, the San Francisco community, civil rights, and gun safety.

Moritz's largest gifts to date have been to his alma mater, Oxford University. Still, in recent years, quite a bit of money from the Crankstart Foundation has gone to Bay Area organizations. One interest of the couple in the Bay Area is education. In the past, the couple gave to help establish the UCSF Discovery Fellows Program, which funds basic science Ph.D. programs such as cell biology, biochemistry and neuroscience. It has supported Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research and UC Berkeley recently. Apart from higher education, the couple has also supported local college preparation groups, such as College Track.

As well, there is a component of Crankstart's philanthropy that involves arts education, with past sums under $100,000 going to Oakland School of the Arts and San Francisco Arts Education. Other support for the arts has gone to the San Francisco Museum of Art and SF Jazz. More modest sums have gone to Bolinas Museum, Merola Opera Program, the San Francisco Opera, and the San Francisco Ballet. Meanwhile, funds have gone to some Jewish organizations such as the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco.

Foundation grants are often in the $10,000 to $25,000 range. View the funder’s tax records to learn more about recent local giving. San Francisco and the Bay Area are big parts of this funder’s giving strategy, although Crankstart supports national groups occasionally as well. Past grantees also include community organizations such as the SF Food Bank, and the Omega Boys Club of San Francisco.

The foundation currently contributes only to pre-selected organizations and does not welcome unsolicited grant applications. The phone number to reach the foundation is 650-845-8100, and nonprofits can contact the funder via online form.


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