Kenneth Rainin Foundation: Grants for Disease

OVERVIEW: The Kenneth Rainin Foundation's health giving is focused on inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

IP TAKE: This is one foundation that isn’t afraid to fund risky ventures, and especially wants to see its grantees embark on interdisciplinary ventures.

PROFILE: San Francisco businessman Kenneth Rainin founded his eponymous foundation to serve as a vehicle for his passions for the arts, education and medical research. When he passed away in 2007 at the age of 68, Mr. Rainin named the foundation the primary beneficiary of his estate.

The Kenneth Rainin Foundation (KRF) has been showing tremendous growth recently. In 2013, it moved to new offices in Oakland, CA, hired program officers for arts and education grant areas, and established a new symposium program to help guide the foundation's ongoing interest in inflammatory bowel disease.

The KRF prides itself on being less risk-averse than traditional foundations: according to its mission statement, the foundation is "willing to jump if there is potential to fly.” Health program officer Jackie Hausman tells IP, “We welcome 'crazy ideas'. We believe that only through innovative thinking can we achieve our goals in health, education, and the arts."

The foundation supports IBD research in two main grantmaking programs. Its Innovator Awards Program seeks out the boldest, bravest researchers with new strategies to take on IBD. The program offers one-year, $100,000 grants and accepts LOIs for this program between January 15 and February 15 each year. Successful recipients become eligible for the foundation's Breakthrough Award, which provides additional funding to continue research.

KRF’s Synergy Award is "designed to encourage collaboration among health researchers from across disciplines to advance the study of Inflammatory Bowel Disease." This is an interdisciplinary award presented to two to more investigators from disparate areas of research interested in pooling their expertise to address IBD. The foundation provides one-year, $100,000 grants to each researcher on the team. Total grant amounts for each winning team is capped at $300,000. Scientists must first participate in the foundation’s Innovations Symposium to be eligible for this award.

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