Roberts Foundation

OVERVIEW: The Roberts Foundation is the philanthropic vehicle of billionaire George Roberts and his wife, Linnea. The foundation focuses much of its grantmaking on the Bay Area, with education and poverty being top priorities.

FUNDING AREAS: Education, poverty, environment, Bay Area community

IP TAKE: Roberts has been a huge funder of all the schools he has gone to, but local poverty remains a top funding area too.

PROFILE: Established in 1985, the Roberts Foundation is the foundation of George and Linnea Roberts. The son of a Houston oil broker, George Roberts became a partner at Bear Stearns at age 29 after graduating from Claremont McKenna in suburban Los Angeles and attending UC Hastings College of Law. In 1976, he, his cousin Henry Kravis, and Bear Stearns mentor Jerome Kohlberg broke out on their own to found Kohlberg Kravis and Roberts (KKR). Roberts founded the Roberts Foundation and runs the foundation with his second wife, Linnea, and his children. Grantmaking areas of interest include education, poverty, environment, and the Bay Area community.

The foundation does not have a website to guide grantseekers. However, Roberts has been involved with philanthropy through the Homeless Economic Development Fund, which supported employment-related nonprofits during the early and mid-1990s. Later, this fund transformed into REDF, which, since its inception in 1997, has supported many social enterprises. The Roberts Foundation supports REDF with steady funding.

In K-12 education, past foundation grants have gone to Sacred Heart Schools Atherton and KIPP Bay Area Schools. In higher education, the couple has supported UC Hastings College of Law and Claremont McKenna. Another key interest is poverty, where the SF Food Bank and Tipping Point Community have received support. Environmental conservation and animal rights is also another interest of the Roberts couple. Past support has gone to Ark Watch Foundation in Northern California and the Eagle Eye Sanctuary Foundation in San Francisco. In arts and culture, the Roberts couple has supported the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Opera, and the SF Ballet.

Foundation grants tend to be over $500,000 and well into the millions of dollars. Review the funder’s recent tax records to learn more about how and where it gives. Also, check out the REDF current portfolio to learn about affiliated giving from this organization. The San Francisco Bay Area is a high-priority funding area for the Roberts Foundation.

This foundation does not accept unsolicited grant applications from nonprofits, as it only funds pre-selected organizations. The foundation phone number is 650-653-2422.

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