The Two-Pronged Focus of Danielle Steel's Philanthropy

You know you've been doing well in the realm of writing when you've been listed in the Guiness Book of World Records for having a book on the New York Times bestseller list for hundreds of consecutive weeks. Author Danielle Steel holds that distinction, the author of some 100 books of romance and drama.

Despite a lot of personal success, though, Steel has also had a lot of personal trials. Her bright young son, Nick, a talented musician and singer, committed suicide when he was just 19, having suffered from manic depression.

Steel was certainly shaken, but it activated her to start a foundation, two foundations actually, infusing some of the millions she's made in her writing career towards charity. In 1998, Steel founded the Nick Traina Foundation, which funds organizations that provide treatment and therapy to the mentally ill, with a particular interest in young people, and child abuse and suicide prevention. In recent years, the foundation has done somewhere in the neighborhood of $200,000 in grantmaking annually, with San Francisco outfits being the main beneficiaries.

Here's a short list of grantees over the years:

  • Crisis Support Services of Alameda County
  • St. Mary’s Medical Center — McAuley Health Center towards a psychiatric unit for adolescents
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
  • National Depression / Manic-Depression Association (DMDA)

In the past, sums have gone to the Access Institute for Psychological Services, which offers low or no fee psychological services, Adolescent Counseling Services, Family Service Agency of San Francisco and Huckleberry Youth Program, a community-based agency serving young people at risk from drug and alcohol addiction, physical and sexual abuse, emotional or physical illness, and other issues. Individual grants rarely exceed $100,000. There's also a scholarship at the SF Conservatory of Music in Nick’s name.

In the wake of Nick's passing, Steel also developed another philanthropic mission. As she told the SF Gate: "After Nicky died, I went to church and prayed for a way to help. Nicky was always very kind to homeless people, buying them a sandwich or a pack of smokes. And 'helping the homeless' is what kept returning to my mind." To that end, Steel founded Yo Angel! with an outreach team to serve the homeless. With vans full of supplies, Steel and her team have delivered help in the form of form of clothing, tools, bedding, food, and hygiene supplies. Yo Angel! has served roughly 3,000 people a year for around a decade.

Grantseekers looking for funding by the Nick Traina Foundation should review the requirements here and send a grant proposal to the following address:

The Nick Traina Foundation

P.O. Box 470427

San Francisco, CA 94147

Related: Danielle Steel Guide