NET WORTH: $2.2 billion
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Netflix
FUNDING AREAS: Education, Immigration Reform
OVERVIEW: Billionaire couple Reed Hastings and his wife Patty Quillin are Giving Pledge signatories. So far the couple's philanthropy has been laser-focused on education. Hastings was president of the California State Board of Education for several years and helped lead successful statewide political campaigns for more charter public schools. Recently, the couple set up a $100 million education fund.
BACKGROUND: Reed Hastings was born in Boston and attended Bowdoin College, graduating in 1983. He served as a U.S. Marine and in the Peace Cops, when he taught math in Swaziland. He returned to the states and went to Stanford, receiving an M.S. in computer science in 1988. Hastings became a software developer and founded Pure Software. In 1997, he founded Netflix, the video-streaming giant that offers television and movie selections, as well as original programming such as Orange is the New Black.
EDUCATION: Hastings recently launched a $100 million education fund called the Hastings Fund, through the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which "aims is to partner with communities to significantly increase the number of students who have access to rich and holistic educational experiences." The fund has launched with two initial grantees, the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley and the United Negro College Fund. A total of $1.5 million will be dispersed, with the aim of providing students of color "exceptional post-secondary educational experiences."
Hastings and Quillin have been deep into education reform for years, not just with philanthropic dollars but also through civic and political involvement. Hastings sits on such boards as KIPP Foundation. Last decade, he was president of the California State Board of Education for several years and helped lead successful statewide political campaigns for more charter public schools. The couple has supported outfits such as Kahn Academy, charter school operator Rocketship Education, Beacon Education Network and Aspire charter network.
Apart from this work, the couple has also supported San Jose State University, the recipient of at least $1 million last decade.
IMMIGRATION REFORM: The couple has been involved with FWD.us, "an organization started by key leaders in the tech community to promote policies to keep the United States and its citizens competitive in a global economy." The outfit is interested in issues like immigration reform, as well as education reform.
LOOKING FORWARD: The couple's emerging Hastings Fund should be watched carefully by those in the education space. Expect charters, blended learning, and personalized learning to be supported by the fund. As well, the fund's CEO has strong ties to New Orleans, which may become an important site of philanthropy as well.