NET WORTH: $2.1 billion
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Cofounder of Netscape, tech venture capitalist
FUNDING AREAS: Higher education, medical research, environment, performing arts, youth services
OVERVIEW: Clark's philanthropy prioritizes medical research, nature, higher education, and, as an avid yachtsman, sailing.
BACKGROUND: Clark transformed several tech companies — including Silicon Graphics, Hyperion, and WebMD — into billion-dollar tech behemoths. But he might be remembered as the man who helped Marc Andreessen introduce the world to the Internet in 1994 through the pioneer browser, Netscape, which held more than 80% of the browser market until 1998.
Clark earned his undergraduate and master's degree in physics at the University of New Orleans, followed by a PhD in computer science from the University of Utah in 1974. From 1979 to 1982, he worked as an associate professor of electrical engineering at Stanford University.
MEDICAL RESEARCH: In 1999, Clark turned his philanthropic eye to stem cell research, pledging $150 million to Stanford to build the James H. Clark Center for Biomedical Engineering. Not everything went smoothly, however. Just before the university was to break ground on the center, Clark stopped payment on $60 million of his pledge to protest new restrictions the federal government had placed on stem cell research. That move did not stop the building of the center which opened in 2003, and specializes in biomedical research, including stem cell research.
Through the Clark Center, Clark has been a major benefactor of the Bio-X program, which intends to "unlock the secrets of the human body" by treating the brain and the body as an interconnected series of systems that all work together. Traditionally, many researchers and scientists have examined each part of the body in isolation. By focusing on the entire body as a single system, researchers believe they will be able to develop more cures. To date, Stanford Bio-X has nearly 700 faculty members from all seven schools and more than 60 departments at Stanford.
Clark has supported a variety of organizations furthering medical research and healthcare, including the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital, Prevent Cancer Foundation, Myelin Repair Foundation, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and others.
EDUCATION: In 2004 Clark and Yahoo cofounder David Filo donated $30 million each to Tulane University to establish merit-based scholarships to the School of Engineering. The combined $60 million donation’s purpose was to enable more underprivileged but deserving students to further their education. However, Tulane University restructured and eliminated nearly all engineering departments, and the university's board tried to direct the funds to other programs.
Clark is a strong supporter of the arts and arts education. He has been recognized as a major benefactor of the Perlman Music Program, which was founded by Itzhak Perlman to provide "exceptionally talented" young string musicians with an opportunity to hone their musical skills through projects such as a six-week summer camp and year-round mentoring programs. Between 2009 and 2013, Clark gave the music program around $1 million annually. Grantmaking to the Perlman Music Program has declined, but it remains one of the foundation's biggest recipients.
ENVIRONMENT: Through the James H. Clark Charitable Foundation, Clark follows his other passions which include nature and the environment. He financially supports the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF, formerly the World Wildlife Fund). Clark's interest in the environment was fostered in part by WWF, where he traveled through the organization to the Arctic, Antarctic, Alaska, and the Sea of Cortez. He also made a $1.2 million donation to Wildlife Australia, and, in 2015, he made a $205,000 contribution to Friends of Australian Wildlife Conservancy. He also provided major support to the Oceanic Preservation Society in Colorado.
SAILING: An avid Yachtsman who used to compete in regattas, Clark has provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to several marine charities through his foundation. These groups include Sailors for the Sea, Sail Newport, and Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island.
James H. Clark Charitable Foundation, 505 S. Flagler Drive, West Palm Beach, FL 33401, 561-832-9292