Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund: Bay Area Grants

OVERVIEW: Established in 1992, the Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund supports a variety of causes in the San Francisco Bay Area. Grant applications are accepted throughout the year and grants are made for many different types of support. Most grants fall in the $10,000 to $100,000 range.

FUNDING AREAS: Democracy and civil liberties, education and literacy, environment, health and recreation, the Jewish community, and reproductive health and rights

IP TAKE: This funder outfit saw its assets quadruple when the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund closed down at the end of the 2012 and distributed its holdings to the three Goldman children. So there's a lot more grantmaking going on. 

PROFILE: The Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund was established in 1992 with a high priority on the San Francisco community. This is a family foundation that awards grants to charitable organizations that enhance society, primarily those serving the San Francisco, California area. The foundation has recently grown in both asset and staff size. In a past year, the Goldman Fund reported over $240 million in total assets and nearly $11 million in grants paid.

Douglas Goldman is the son of Levi Strauss heirs, Richard and Rhoda Goldman. After Richard Goldman died in 2011, the assets of his foundation (approximately $280 million) were split into thirds and distributed to each of his three children. "My dad didn't believe in the perpetuity of foundations," said John Goldman, son and former president of the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund. "He always told us he thought it was important to have foundations recognize what was happening in a contemporary setting, with contemporary people.”

Douglas’ brother, John Goldman, runs the John and Marcia Goldman Foundation, based in Brentwood and focused on disadvantaged youth. Douglas’ sister, Susan Gelman, runs the Morningstar Foundation, based in Chevy Chase, Maryland and focused on Jewish issues and reproductive rights.

When asked about how grantmaking and support of current grantees would change with the receipt of his parents’ foundation funds, Douglas responded:

"There aren’t many changes going on,” he said of the Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund. “We obviously will be capable of, and will need to be, giving away more money than we have in the past. But as for my siblings’ foundations … they will choose to do whatever they choose. There’s no sense of ‘divvying up’ the organizations that have been supported by the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund.

Douglas Goldman is the Chairman and Founder of Certain, Inc., a software development and publishing company headquartered in San Francisco. He is Chairman of the Board of the Stern Grove Festival Association, President of the Goldman Environmental Foundation, and a trustee of the UC Berkeley Foundation. He also sits on the board of the Hartog School of Government and Policy at Tel-Aviv University and the Executive Committee of the San Francisco Emergency Physicians Association.

Past Goldman Fund grants in San Francisco have included $50,000 to the Children's Creativity Museum, $35,000 to 826 Valencia, $50,000 to Aim High for High School, and $25,000 to Experience Corps Bay Area. You can view a list of recent grants here.

The size of Goldman Fund grants have ranged anywhere between $100 and $1 million. Most grants are awarded in the areas of democracy and civil liberties, the environment, health and recreation, the Jewish community, reproductive health and rights, and Bay Area institutions and projects. Nearly all types of support are considered, including building renovations, emergency funds, technical assistance, capital campaigns, general operating support, and program development. The Fund does not provide support to individuals, deficit budgets, endowments, conferences, events, conferences, documentaries, films, books, or research.

Lisa and Douglas have twin young adult sons, Matthew and Jason, who are the co-founders of G2 Insurance in San Francisco and show promise in carrying on the family philanthropy. Both sons graduated from Cal with degrees in interdisciplinary studies, specializing in nonprofit management and philanthropy. “Empathy is in part driving the business, not as a moneymaking venture but as a way to give back,” says Matthew. “We have a vision of building a business by building community.” Later in an interview with J Weekly, Matthew shared, “Our current interests are young philanthropy and the IGI, which is all about engaging young people in giving. That’s been a passion for both of us.”

To apply for a Goldman Fund grant, first review the foundation’s Interests and Priorities section to learn about the geographic focus area of each priority and the overall strategy. Then check out the General Application Procedures to follow the required steps to submit a Letter of Inquiry. If your letter of inquiry receives a favorable response, you’ll be invited to submit a formal proposal through Goldman’s online system. There are no deadlines for submission and grant applications are accepted and reviewed throughout the year. Call 415-771-1717 or complete the online inquiry form with general questions. 


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