Stephen M. Silberstein Foundation: Bay Area Grants

OVERVIEW: This is the charitable vehicle of Stephen Silberstein, cofounder of Innovative Interfaces. Silberstein's Bay Area philanthropy focuses on education, the environment, and more. As well, policy and human rights outfits in the Bay Area and beyond have been strongly supported.

FUNDING AREAS: Education, Policy, Human Rights, Libraries, Environment, Arts & Culture

IP TAKE: This funder doesn't have much of a web presence, or a clear way to get in touch.

PROFILE:  In 1978, Stephen Silberstein cofounded Innovative Interfaces, which develops automated systems for libraries. Today the company has more than 2,400 library systems installed in 9,500 libraries, spanning the globe in 66 countries. Silberstein is now retired and has engaged in quite a bit of philanthropy through the Stephen M. Silberstein Foundation, which was established in 1997. In a recent year, the foundation held some $112 million in assets and gave away around $6 million.

Silberstein focuses a lot of his philanthropy in the Bay Area, where one interest is education. Silberstein is a trustee of U.C. Berkeley Foundation and U.C. Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy. A $1 million grant went to U.C. Berkeley Foundation in a past year, and $700,000 went to the foundation the year before. Last decade, U.C. Berkeley received grants of $1 million each in 2003 and 2007. Past support has also gone to the Berkeley Public Education Foundation, whose "mission is to inspire and empower an extraordinary public education for every child," and Edible Schoolyard Foundation, another Berkeley outfit which supports a 1-acre garden at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School.

Given Silberstein's background, it's no surprise that he's also supported libraries in the Bay Area. He sits on the board of the Belvedere-Tiburon Library Foundation and the Belvedere-Tiburon Library has been supported. Recent support has also gone to Berkeley Public Library and Alameda Free Library Association.

Silberstein also has a big interest in policy and human rights outfits in the Bay Area. While a lot of this philanthropy is national, with major outfits in D.C. and New York receiving support, recent money has also gone to Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Impact Fund, which "provides strategic leadership and support for litigation to achieve economic and social justice," and the Tides Foundation, which gives "grants to nonprofits working toward social change in the US and abroad." In a past year, a $50,000 grant went to Movement Strategy Center in Oakland which supports "grassroots organizations, alliances, and networks, as well as funders, to build powerful and transformative social justice movements." Outside of the Bay Area, it's worth noting that a number outfits such as Media Matters, ACLU, Democracy Now and more have been funded.

Silberstein also has funded environmental and arts and culture outfits in the Bay Area. Recent support has gone to San Francisco Baykeeper, Seacology, a "charitable organization headquartered in Berkeley, California that focuses on preserving island ecosystems and cultures around the world," and the Sierra Club Foundation, which received a $200,000 grant in a recent year. In addition, a large $200,000 grant went to San Francisco Film Society. Past money has also gone to outfits such as Berkeley Repertory Theater.


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The Stephen M. Silberstein Foundation does not provide a clear avenue for getting in touch, but below is an address:

Stephen M. Silberstein Foundation

29 Eucalyptus Rd.

Belvedere, CA 94920

Telephone: (415) 435-1692