OVERVIEW: The family foundation of tech and investment billionaire Thomas Siebel gives in four main areas: the homeless and underprivileged, education and research, public health, and energy solutions. The core of the foundation is the Siebel Scholars program, which makes awards to graduate students in science and business and then recruits them to guide the foundation's future initiatives.
IP TAKE: Siebel is really into its Scholars, but eligibility is limited to a short list of pre-selected universities. The foundation also gives to a handful of favored universities and its own stem cell research and energy research institutes.
PROFILE: The private foundation of Siebel Systems is a pretty hefty funder, but with very little infrastructure outside of its awards program for science and business grad students. It gives to four key areas: the homeless and underprivileged, education and research, public health, and energy solutions.
For science researchers, most of its grantmaking goes to a very small number of very targeted initiatives, which are in part determined by the very same Scholars who win the awards. There are a few main ways to land Siebel funding, but oddly enough, they usually don't involve applying to the foundation.
First, Siebel Scholars makes grants to 12 pre-selected universities, which nominate their leading grad students in computer science, bioengineering, and business. The winners are chosen “based on outstanding academic performance and leadership,” and awardees “receive a $35,000 award toward their final year of studies.”
The Scholars then join a consortium of academics meant to continue collaborating and further guide the foundation, including at a conference once a year. Out of this collaboration come some of the pet causes that Siebel also supports financially.
For example, a Siebel Scholars conference launched the Siebel Stem Cell Institute. Heavily backed by the foundation, SSI is a joint program between the University of California, Berkeley Stem Cell Center and the Stanford Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. More information about the SSCI can be found in its annual report, available at the foundation’s web site.
More recently, Siebel also launched the Siebel Energy Institute, a multi-university “consortium for innovative and collaborative energy research” that offers $25,000 and $50,000 research grants “to accelerate advancements in the safety, security, reliability, efficiency and environmental integrity of modern energy systems.” Before jumping into SEI’s call for proposals, keep in mind that grants here are again limited to the consortium’s university members.
Other examples of work the foundation has funded include initiatives in computer science and data analysis for projects such as mapping the human genome or winning presidential elections.
You can search a database of Siebel Scholars here. Profiles include a brief bio and a synopsis of each scholar’s work.
Finally, the foundation makes support grants to universities, but a pretty small number of them. The majority of recent university grants were allocated “to support academic and scholarship programs,” and recipient universities included the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, MIT, the University of Chicago, and Princeton.
Despite the restriction to grad students, the Siebel Scholars program has been known to trumpet and even continue to fund the future projects of its scholars, so count yourself both fortunate and accomplished if you show up on this foundation’s radar.
- Jenny Hildebrand Christiansen, Director Siebel Scholars Foundation