Eric Schmidt

  NET WORTH: $11.2 billion

SOURCE OF WEALTH: Google

FUNDING AREAS: Environment, Education

OVERVIEW: Schmidt believes that leaders still matter, and he has taken a leadership approach to giving, attempting to use his technological expertise and vision to solve many of the world's problems. Along with his wife, Wendy, Schmidt founded the Schmidt Family Foundation, which focuses on the environment, education, and sustainable development.

BACKGROUND: Schmidt grew up outside Washington, D.C., and studied electrical engineering at Princeton University, and then the University of California at Berkeley. After receiving a Ph.D., he held technical positions at companies including Bell Labs, Xerox, Sun Microsystems and Novell, before becoming the CEO of Google in 2001, where he is still the Executive Chairman. He's also served on the board of Apple.

PHILOSOPHY: Schmidt's philanthropic pursuits very much mirror his approach at Google. The projects he chooses to fund with his philanthropic endeavors demonstrate a belief that technology can solve the world's greatest problems, with education and distribution of information at the center of this philosophy. 

ISSUES:

ENVIRONMENT: One of the foundation's signature programs is the 11th Hour Project. Run by his wife Wendy, this program works on "connecting organizations with good information on how to develop a more responsible relationship with the world's water, energy, and food resources."  The 11th Hour Project has three programs under it: 1. The Renewable Energy & Climate Program focuses on reducing reliance on fossil fuels and accelerating the production and adoption of renewable energy. 2. The Ecological Agriculture Program focuses on "reforming animal agriculture, building regional food systems and long-term movement building." 3. The Human Rights Program recognizes the link between human beings and the environment and works to create "global equity."

In addition, Wendy established the Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X Challenge after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The couple also runs a separate entity called the Schmidt Ocean Institute, which works to preserve reef habitats and study pollution. In a recent year, the Schmidt's gave $10 million to the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch, a program that grades the sustainability of fisheries. Taking their efforts across the ocean, the couple has donated $400,000 to V-World Farm, a sustainable farm that serves a community of women rape survivors in the Congo. On a lighter note, the Schmidt's have also invested in the Nebia eco-friendly showerhead.

EDUCATION: Schmidt has served on the board of trustees of his alma mater Princeton, and also Carnegie Mellon University, donating substantial amounts to these institutions. He's currently on the board of Khan Academy, which provides online educational resources. He is also a strong supporter of environmental education. Schmidt recently helped to establish the 11th Hour Food & Farming Journalism Fellowship at the UC Berkley Graduate School of Journalism which awards $10,000 to students writing about environmental issues.

PUBLIC POLICY: In 2008, Schmidt became the chair of the New America Foundation, a non-partisan public policy institute that supports policy research and advocacy in areas such as economic development, education, and national security. He was also a campaign advisor and strong supporter of President Obama. 

GIVING THROUGH GOOGLE: As CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt oversaw the creation and initial funding of Google.org and the Google Foundation. Google.org, the company's philanthropic arm, was created with a grant of 3 million shares of Google during its initial public offering.

Over the years, Schmidt and Google.org have embarked on a number of programs designed to replace fossil fuels as our main energy source, in an effort to reverse the effects of global warming. One program attempted to make electricity produced by alternative energy sources cheaper than coal. Another project sought to encourage innovation and stimulate market demand for plug-in electric vehicles.

Through Google.org, Schmidt has directed investments in a number of renewable energy initiatives, including an investment of $130 million in a company that makes solar panels and an infusion of $10 million for a company that is developing a kite system that will tap into jet streams for power.

LOOKING FORWARD: Eric Schmidt has dedicated his entire life to technology and he envisions several technology trends which should appear in the near future: 3S printed buildings, self-driving cars, augmented reality and the use of smartphones as means to empower medical researchers.

 

CONTACT:

  • The Schmidt Family Foundation, 555 Bryant Street, #370 Palo Alto, CA 94301 ; 650-376-7100

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