Paul Brainerd

NET WORTH: Unknown

SOURCE OF WEALTH: Aldus Corporation

FUNDING AREAS: Environmental Conservation, Pacific Northwest Community

OVERVIEW: Paul Brainerd founded the Brainerd Foundation which he steers with his sister Sherry, who serves as vice president. The Brainerd Foundation has awarded roughly $66 million so far and will sunset by 2020. It funds organizations that protect the environment in the Northwest and that support conservation and has recently focused on issues of equity in the community. 

BACKGROUND: Paul Brainerd was born in 1947 and attended University of Oregon. He cofounded the publishing and printing software company Aldus, which released the first desktop publishing application, PageMaker.


ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION: The Brainerd Foundation describes itself as "a Northwest-focused family foundation that provides funding and expertise so nonprofits, communities, and decision-makers can better protect our region's air, land, and water." The group has funded more than 300 organizations and prides itself in bringing together disparate partners, including landowners, farmers, native peoples and conservation groups. Recent support has gone to groups which successfully fought the construction of an oil terminal in Vancouver, Wash., and an effort by First Nations to protect land in the Yukon. Other grantees include the Oregon Environmental Council, Trout Unlimited’s Bend Office, WaterWatch of Oregon, Headwaters Montana, and the Washington Environmental Council. 

Brainerd launched IslandWood, an environmental learning organization with a 250-acre campus on Bainbridge Island near Seattle; ONE/Northwest (now Groundwire), that helped enviro groups boost their tech savvy; and an eco-friendly campground in New Zealand, where Brainerd currently spends much of his time.

PACIFIC NORTHWEST COMMUNITY: Paul Brainerd founded Social Venture Partners (SVP), a program to spur high-impact philanthropy and educate donors that has expanded to 44 chapters in nine countries. SVP "connects and invests in people and organizations to co-create thriving, sustainable and just communities." It is particularly focused on boosting participation of racially diverse voices, perspectives, and experiences in decision-making processes. The Northwest Conservation Philanthropy Fellowship—an initiative with ties to SVP and the Brainerd Foundation—provides a small cohort of philanthropists with an intensive training in effective giving and nonprofit engagement.

LOOKING FORWARD: Brainerd has decided to disperse the foundation’s remaining dollars by 2020 and close its doors for several reasons, including a sense of urgency regarding serious environmental issues and because he doesn’t have children to take over the organization.

LINK: Brainerd Foundation