We've been writing about the Schmidt Family Foundation a lot recently, and for good reason. Helmed by Wendy Schmidt and her Google billionaire husband, Eric Schmidt, the foundation is deep into environmental philanthropy. Schmidt is worth more than $9 billion and the couple's family foundation, which does a lot of its grantmaking through its 11th Hour Project, gave away more than $17.5 million in 2012, mainly to the environment.
The environment is the overwhelming focus of the Schmidt Family Foundation, but the couple had made grantmaking forays into other causes, including efforts that have sent their money to some very troubled parts of the world. These are worth taking a look at because of the large fortune waiting in the wings and because so many major philanthropists end up funding in the developing world, where their money can often have the most impact.
Consider the couple's support of V-World Farm, a collaboration between Occidental Arts and Ecology Center and V-Day, the women's advocacy outfit headed by Eve Ensler, the scribe behind the "Vagina Monologues." Ensler and Wendy are friends and the former appears to have galvanized Schmidt's interest in Congo, where V-World operates.
V-World's mission is to "heal the women of the Congo by healing the Earth." In addition to helping survivors of sexual assult, Schmidt donated $400,000 to buy an 865-acre farm near the facility.
The Schmidts have also funded other projects in the Congo. They've supported Virunga National Park, which is among the most spectacular of all African national parks, and many hope it can be an anchor of a vibrant tourist economy in a future, peaceful Congo.
Money has also gone to the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) which is developing a model that trains native Congolese to provide effective legal services for those affected by violence. Naturally, there's an environmental twist to ABA ROLI, and the initiative has also helped address various sustainable development issues.
The couple has also backed CDJP or Commission Diocésaine Justice et Paix, which has documented attacks on civilians in the country, tapping into another interest of Schmidt—raising awareness through media and journalism.
Outside of the Congo, Schmidt has also funded Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL) in Haiti, which addresses sustainable sanitation, has backed Dalai Lama Fellows (DLF) which provides grants up to $10,000 to students across the world and the Schmidt-MacArthur Fellowship.
Not to mention that Wendy also runs another Schmidt outfit called the Schmidt Ocean Institute, which hosts an international resume of projects.
Ultimately, the Schmidts are funders very much interested in stateside outfits, especially sticking to nonprofits based in California and New York. However, Congo, and to a lesser extent Haiti, appear to be emerging sites of interest for the foundation. At least $1.5 million recently went to that aforementioned V-World farm project in Congo and SOIL in Haiti received nearly $600,000 in 2012.
And keep in mind that Schmidt family philanthropy is still at a very early stage. This couple has a very large fortune, and a good chunk of it is likely to be given away eventually. Our bet is that more Schmidt money, perhaps a lot more, will find its way to troubled places in the world.