NET WORTH: $5.3 billion
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Co-founder of Yahoo!
FUNDING AREAS: Higher Education, K-12 Education, Environment, Civil Liberties
OVERVIEW: David Filo and his wife Angela do their grantmaking through the Yellow Chair Foundation. Major grants support higher education, public interest journalism, climate change, K-12 education, civil liberties, and more. Angela runs the day-to-day operations of the foundation.
BACKGROUND: David Filo was born in Wisconsin, and his family moved to Louisiana when he was six. He received a computer engineering degree from Tulane University and a master's degree from Stanford. After earning his master's, Filo became a Ph.D. student at Stanford, where he met Jerry Yang. Both Filo and Yang had a strong interest in the World Wide Web but had a difficult time remembering which sites they had visited, so they created what they originally called "Jerry and David's Guide to the World Wide Web." Later, they changed the name of the new search engine to Yahoo!
Angela graduated from Stanford with a degree in human biology in 1993; in 1999 she earned a master's in journalism from UC Berkeley, which explains the couple's support of Berkeley's graduate school of journalism. She was elected to the Stanford Board of Trustees in 2015. She previously served on the Stanford Challenge K-12 Advisory Council.
Angela is also a former journalism and photography teacher at Eastside College Preparatory School in East Palo Alto, which gets support from the couple. She is also a former member of the board of directors of the Student Press Law Center in Washington, D.C.
HIGHER EDUCATION: In 1996, not long after co-founding Yahoo, David donated $1 million in company stock to Tulane University to establish an endowed chair in the engineering department. The gift made him the youngest donor ever to establish an endowed chair at Tulane. A year later, he and Yang became the youngest people ever to endow a chair at Stanford when they made a $2 million grant to the school to create the Yahoo Founder's Professorship at the Engineering School, which focused on information technology. At the time of those endowments, David said, "There was really no reason to wait. I realize the money I have, I will never spend."
In 2004, David and Netscape founder Jim Clark made matching $30 million endowments to Tulane University, with the $60 million going into an endowment used to fund $3 million in undergraduate merit-based scholarships per year.
Donations have also gone to Stanford University's Bing Nursery School, and in 2014, the Filos endowed a faculty chair for the study of poverty and inequality in education. Meanwhile, they also support UC Berkeley, with a portion of the money supporting Berkeley's journalism school. Regular support has also gone to the Journalism Education Association at Kansas State University.
K-12 EDUCATION: The couple has been supportive of various education initiatives. They have granted money to 826 National, a nonprofit which helps "students, ages 6–18, with expository and creative writing at seven locations across the USA." Other grants supported iMentor, the New Teacher Center, the Quest Scholars Program, College Track, and Eastside College Preparatory School (more than $400,000 in 2013), where Angela used to teach journalism and photography. Large sums have also gone to DonorsChoose.org. The Filos also helped bankroll the K12 Start Fund, which aims to increase early funding for education technology companies.
ENVIRONMENT: In 2007, David created the Be a Better Planet campaign. The campaign was a search for the greenest city in America and was intended to leverage Yahoo's massive audience—it was getting nearly half a billion visits a day—to empower Americans to take action against climate change. Since at least 2013y, the Filos have helped fund the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign at a substantial level, which seeks to “improve public health, slash carbon emissions and allow the U.S. to take action as leader in fighting climate change." They have also supported the push for clean power in California.
Other environmental grantmaking through the Yellow Chair Foundation has involved supporting organizations such as the Environmental Defense Fund (at least $600,000 in 2012 and $1 million in 2014), Canopy Trees for Palo Alto, and the Energy Foundation, a "partnership of major foundations interested in sustainable energy."
OTHER CAUSES: The Filos have made more than $10 million in donations to ACLU Foundation of Northern California in recent years. The couple is also interested in women's advocacy and has supported the Global Fund for Women, which received at least $400,000 each year from 2013-2015. They have also supported the Global Giving Foundation and California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative, a part of the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health.
LOOKING AHEAD: The Filos have substantial assets and a growing track record of philanthropy, suggesting that potentially far greater grantmaking lies ahead in their core areas of interest.