How the Chenwu Foundation Approaches Grantmaking in the Bay Area

Buddhism is among the the causes that draw foundation support. Denis Dymov/shutterstock

Buddhism is among the the causes that draw foundation support. Denis Dymov/shutterstock

One of the many tech executives in the Bay Area of California who started his own foundation after success in the industry is Dr. Fusen Ernie Chen, Ph.D. Chen and his family created the Chenwu Foundation in 2009, but this is an under-the-radar funder that is a bit hard to get to know. However, the Chenwu Foundation is partial to Bay Area nonprofits, which makes it a good one to know for local groups working in a few key interest areas.

Chen has a hand in various aspects of the tech scene in the Bay Area and strong connections to Asian markets, too. He has held leadership roles at Kulicke and Soffa Industries, Mattson Technology, Novellus Systems, Semiconductor Systems Products, and other tech companies. It appears that he is still very much involved in business but starting to dabble in philanthropy more lately. Grantmaking is still limited at just over $10,000 or so in giving per year. However, this may change in the future if foundation president Fusen E. Chen and foundation secretary Yijen Chen turn their attention to more charitable causes in retirement.

In Northern California, giving interests have largely centered on education, youth, and human services. The foundation is based in Saratoga, California, and recent grants have gone to groups in San Jose and Oakland. In this region, Chenwu typically funds well-known and well-established groups, such as the local chapters of the March of Dimes and the American Cancer Society. Other broader interests of this funder include the Alzheimer’s Association, Doctors without Borders, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and the American Institute for Cancer Research.

However, the Chenwu Foundation also has ties to Taiwan and makes international giving a priority. Dr. Chen graduated with an engineering degree from the Tsing Hua University in Taiwan, and the family has also supported disaster relief in Vietnam. But as a general rule, Chenwu Foundation funding almost always stays in the U.S. each year.

Another important aspect of Chenwu Foundation grantmaking is Buddhism. The family regularly supports Buddhist causes, such as the Dharma Buddhist Realm Association and the Amitabha Buddhist Society.

Unfortunately for Bay Area grantseekers, the Chenwu Foundation does not have a website, it does not publicly share its grantmaking guidelines, and it does not accept unsolicited requests for funding. Instead, the family funder sticks to pre-selected groups that it identifies and is personally familiar with.

Gain more insights about this local funder in IP’s full profile of the Chenwu Foundation.