United Plankton Charitable Trust: Los Angeles Grants

OVERVIEW: The United Plankton Charitable Trust is the philanthropic vehicle of SpongeBob SquarePants creator Stephen Hillenburg and his wife Karen. The couple's Los Angeles giving focuses on the arts, education, and more.

IP TAKE: The foundation keeps a low public profile and does not accept unsolicited proposals. Away from Los Angeles proper, Pasadena is an important site of giving.

FUNDING AREAS: Arts & Culture, Education, Youth, Health, Human Services, Civic

PROFILE: Born in Oklahoma in 1961 and raised in Anaheim, Stephen Hillenburg tapped his passion for marine biology and the arts and created Nickelodeon's smash hit SpongeBob SquarePants. His wife, Karen, meanwhile, is a California native with a culinary background. The Hillenburgs founded United Plankton Charitable Trust (whose name is drawn from Hillenburg's production company) last decade, and in recent years have given away under $500,000 annually via the charity.

Unfortunately for grantseekers the foundation keeps a low profile and does not accept unsolicited proposals.

United Plankton Charitable Trust's grantmaking is particularly focused on Los Angeles, including suburbs like Pasadena where the couple has taken up residence. In the arts, the couple, via their foundation has supported places like Armory Center for the Art in Pasadena, public radio station KCRW, LACMA, Pasadena Art Alliance, and Society for the Activation of Social Space through Art and Sound (SASSAS) an organization that advocates for the "creation, presentation, and recognition of experimental art and sound practices in the Greater Los Angeles area."

Hillenburg supports his school CalArts. Other grantees have included Pasadena Conservatory of Music , Polytechnic Schools, Boys and Girls Club of Pasadena, and UCLA Foundation.

The couple's Los Angeles health giving has supported places like Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Los Angeles, and the IGN Foundation, which supports research into Oligo tumors, a rare type of brain tumor. The family has also supported Liberty Hill Foundation, a social justice organization.


  • Search for staff contact info and bios in PeopleFinder (paid subscribers only.)


The United Plankton Charitable Trust does not provide a clear avenue for getting in touch with the couple, but below is an address

United Plankton Charitable Trust
11400 W. Olympic Blvd., Ste. 590
Los Angeles, CA 90064