NET WORTH: Unknown
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Infinera
FUNDING AREAS: Education, Environment
OVERVIEW: David Welch and his wife Heidi do their grantmaking through the David and Heidi Welch Foundation. The couple's philanthropy prioritizes education; a few years ago Welch founded Students Matter, which promotes access to quality public education through impact litigation, communications and advocacy. Students Matter helped bring a successful lawsuit against teacher tenure in California. Welch and Heidi have also earmarked funds for the environment, focusing on Natural Resources Defense Council, where Welch sits on the board of trustees.
BACKGROUND: A Maryland native, David F. Welch received a B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Delaware and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Cornell University. Welch joined Spectra Diode Labs (SDL) as a research scientist in 1985. He climbed the ladder at the company, eventually serving as CTO and VP of Corporate Development. In 2001, Welch co-founded Infinera, a manufacturer of optical telecommunications systems based in Sunnyvale, California. Welch holds over 130 patents in optical transmission technologies.
EDUCATION: A product of public schools, Welch's philanthropic passion is education. In 2011, Welch founded Students Matter, "a national nonprofit organization dedicated to sponsoring impact litigation to promote access to quality education." Litigation is key when it comes to this organization. Welch and Students Matter helped spur a landmark court ruling that said that California laws governing teacher tenure, firing and layoffs violate students' constitutional right to education equality. More recently, Students Matter brought the lawsuit Doe v. Antioch, which "challenges the collective bargaining agreements of thirteen school districts and their local teachers unions that explicitly prohibit the use of students’ standardized test data in the evaluation of teachers, in direct violation of the Stull Act." The Stull Act, by the way, requires school districts to evaluate the performance of teachers through various means including via standardized test data.
Welch and his wife Heidi fund Students Matter through The David and Heidi Welch Foundation. The couple has supported other education organizations, including Menlo School, New Schools Venture Fund, KIPP Bay Area Schools, UCLA School of Nursing and Riekes Center, which runs fitness, creative arts and other programming for students and youth. The couple has also supported education through the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.
ENVIRONMENT: Welch sits on the board of trustees of the Natural Resources Defense Council. The couple has supported a toxin program and a public health program at NRDC. They have also supported fellows at NRDC's Center for Market Innovation, which "works to demonstrate and implement new approaches to finance and investment that offer strong profit potential as well as increased opportunity for people of all income levels."
LOOKING FORWARD: Welch is not very wealthy by the standards of the tech industry: according to Bloomberg, his 2013 total compensation was $2.2 million. Still, he has been wealthy enough to put substantial money into Students Matter. Expect the couple's focus on education to hold.
The David and Heidi Welch Foundation does not provide a clear avenue of contact but below is an address:
The David and Heidi Welch Foundation
217 Camino Al Lago
Atherton, CA 94027