How Baskin Works for Women and Girls in California

Credit: Texas A&M University-Commerce Marketing Communications Photography via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)Last year, Cabrillo College, a community college in Aptos, California received $166,000 towards its Women's Studies Program, allowing the program to add and reinstate courses. That grant was part of a larger effort by the Peggy and Jack Baskin Foundationto launch women's studies at community colleges in the Santa Cruz and Monterey areas of California. At a school like Cabrillo, whose women's studies classes dwindled to three as a result of budget cuts, this funding comes at a critical time.

Here at Inside Philanthropy, we write a lot about foundations working to ensure full equity for half of the world's population. These funders include a mix of large private foundations, corporate philanthropies, and wealthy women. The Baskin Foundation is also engaged in this fight and serves as a good example of an organization digging into some of these issues at the local and regional level.

The foundation was established in 2007 by California couple Jack and Peggy Baskin. Peggy Baskin is a Vassar College alumna who taught political science for nearly two decades at Santa Clara University. She's also been a senior lecturer on women and politics and has written about the subject, too. Jack Baskin, meanwhile, is a retired engineer, real estate broker and developer. The Baskins have strongly funded University of California, Santa Cruz, where a $5 million gift established the Baskin School of Engineering. More than $8 million has gone to the school over the years.

As for the Baskin Foundation, it describes its mission as creating "opportunities for social change and justice" by promoting "innovative and sustainable strategies for eliminating obstacles facing marginalized segments of our society  and enabling the potential of individuals and communities."

To that end, the Foundation currently focuses on the following program areas:

  • Women’s issues, in an "effort to improve the lives of women and girls"
  • Education, in an effort to "ensure equal access to education for all community members."

The foundation is laser-focused on the Monterey Bay Peninsula, Santa Cruz and the greater San Francisco Bay Area, to be more specific. The foundation states, however, that "organizations may be considered outside of this region on a discretionary basis."

Like many funders in this space, one way Baskin works to empower women is through STEM. The foundation's Girls in Engineering effort aims to bring more girls into the engineering pipeline at a young age. Baskin has helped bankroll, for instance, the UC Santa Cruz Girls in Engineering, a program which introduces the girls to computer science and engineering through hands on work. There's a Girls in Engineering program at Cabrillo College, as well. Other STEM outfits supported by the foundation include Young Women in Science, a week-long summer day camp of Monterey Bay Aquarium, and Girls in Marine Science, a program of the Seymour Marine Discovery Program. 

The Baskin Foundation also makes grants in support of women in public policy, women reentering the workforce, girls empowerment, and ending violence against women, among other efforts. A sampling of grantees includes YWCA Legal Advocacy Program, Women's Policy Institute, Monterey Peninsula Community College Gender and Women's Studies Program, Young Women's Summer Camp at Glen Deven Ranch, and Girls for a Change, "a national organization that inspires girls to have the voice, ability and problem solving capacity to speak up, be decision makers, create visionary change and realize their full potential."

Additionally, the foundation also runs a scholarship program which supports underprivileged women attending Cabrillo College, Hartnell College or Monterey Peninsula College.

In a recent year, the foundation gave away around $415,000. Again, Baskin is a small funder, strongly focused on Central and Northern California. Information about applying for a grant can be found here. The Foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals. However, interested grantseekers should fill out the foundation's information form. If Baskin is interested in learning more, they will get in touch.