Arthur Rock: How One of America's First Venture Capitalists Does His Philanthropy

While the new donors like Mark Zuckerberg emerging from Silicon Valley get all the attention, people have been getting rich in tech for many decades now. And some have long been major active givers. The pioneering venture capitalist Arthur Rock is a case in point. 

Born in 1926 in Rochester, New York, Arthur Rock received his bachelor's degree from Syracuse University and attended Harvard Business School. Rock had an early career on Wall Street, but then moved to California, where he and the late Tommy Davis founded the firm Davis & Rock. One of America's first venture capitalists, Rock became a driving force in the emergence of Silicon Valley, and his early investment in Intel in 1968 made him a billionaire. Rock was recently portrayed in the 2013 film Jobs. These days, Rock is no longer on the Forbes billionaire list, and it's unclear how much he's worth.

Rock and his wife Toni Rembe Rock move their philanthropy through the Rock Foundation, which was established all the way back in 1969. Toni, a longtime attorney, is a pioneer in her own right, and was one of the first women to be named partner at a major law firm in California. Unfortunately, despite the Rock Foundation's age, it flies well under the radar, and doesn't have much of a web presence or a clear way to get in touch. However, the couple have been active philanthropists for years.

Last decade, a large $10 million gift from the couple went to Stanford Law School to create the Arthur & Toni Rembe Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University. Additionally, a $25 million gift established the Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship at Harvard Business School. University of Washington Law School, where Toni graduated, is home to the Toni Rembe Dean & Professor of Law. While recent education grantmaking through the Rock Foundation has been modest, sums have gone to schools such as Syracuse University and Lakeside School in Seattle, where Toni graduated.

The couple has also been rather active in the K-12 education reform space. They're top level donors to Teach for America, listed as Champion Donors with more than $5 million given alongside the likes of the Walton Family Foundation. Speaking of Walton, in 1998, the late John Walton, Rock, and Former Merill Lynch Managing Director Jim McCarthy cofounded the BASIC Fund, which provides scholarships to inner-city children in the Bay Area. Recent support through the couple's foundation has gone to outfits such as Breakthrough Collaborative, which "puts low-income middle school students on the path to college and inspires high school and college students to become educators," California Charter Schools Association (which received a large $250,000 grant in 2013), Education Reform Now, National Council on Teacher Quality, Foundation for Educational Choice, and Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN), which received $250,000 in the two most recent tax years available. The couple has also supported KIPP.

Another area Rock and Toni have supported through the Rock Foundation has been legal rights. Given Toni's background, this isn't too surprising. In addition, Toni is also the president of the van Löben Sels/RembeRock Foundation, a title she's held since the 1990s. This foundation concerns itself with promoting "social justice in Northern California by means of legal services and advocacy." A component of the Rock Foundation's grantmaking also involves these issues and recent grants have gone to outfits such as the American Bar Foundation, Anti-Defamation League, American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation, and Legal Services for Children.

Rock and Toni's philanthropy also involves arts and culture outfits such as SF Ballet, SF Playhouse, American Conservatory Theatre, Museum of the African Diaspora, The Exploratorium, Asian Art Museum Foundation, and Magic Theatre, where Toni sits on the board. Grants have gone to public radio station KQED, as well as to environmental outfits such as SF Parks Alliance.