NET WORTH: $6.1 billion
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Co-founder & Co-chairman of Two Sigma Investments
FUNDING AREAS: STEM Education, Early Childhood Learning
OVERVIEW: Math whizzes John Overdeck and his wife Laura Overdeck conduct their philanthropy through the Overdeck Family Foundation, which was established in 2011. The foundation’s mission is to "advance learning so that all kids realize their greatest potential." Much of Overdeck's philanthropy is focused on STEM education, giving to a select few outfits.
BACKGROUND: John Overdeck received his B.A. in mathematics and his M.A. in statistics from Stanford University. In 1986, Overdeck was an International Mathematics Olympiad silver medalist. He was a managing director at D.E. Shaw & Co. and a vice president at Amazon.com before cofounding Two Sigma Investments, LLC, a New York City-based investment management fund that develops systematic trading systems for its clients. Laura, meanwhile, holds a B.A. in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an M.B.A. in public policy from the Wharton School.
EDUCATION: Overdeck's education philanthropy has four key components: "early impact," "exceptional educators, "innovative schools," and "inspired minds." In terms of early impact, Overdeck sits on the board of directors at the Robin Hood Foundation, the New York City anti poverty giant that also runs education programming. One of these education efforts is the Early Childhood Research Initiative (ECRI), a multiyear project between the Robin Hood Foundation and MDRC that aims to study the long-term effects of various early childhood programs. The Overdecks support ECRI, and are described as lead funders of the initiative. Overdeck has also supported the Harlem Children's Zone within its early impact strategy.
Overdeck's general education philanthropy also aims to build exceptional educators. A main grantee in this area so far has been the Relay Graduate School of Education. The Overdecks have also supported the charter school network Success Academy, NJ Seeds, and New Visions for Public Schools, as well as New Classrooms Innovation Partners. The couple has also given sums to the National Museum of Mathematics, the University of Chicago, and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. Laura, meanwhile, also founded Bedtime Math, a nonprofit that hopes to put math on equal footing with the bedtime story.
STEM EDUCATION: Given the couple's mathematics background, it is no surprise that STEM education is a priority of the Overdeck Family Foundation. They have supported Khan Academy, the personalized online learning giant. Laura Overdeck is also the former chair for the Johns Hopkins’ Center for Talented Youth (CTY). Laura is vice chair of the board of trustees at the Liberty Science Center in New Jersey, which the couple has supported as well. Other grantees have included NJ STEM Teaching Fellowship and Drew University in New Jersey.
LOOKING AHEAD: Grantseekers should also keep an eye on Bedtime Math, which aims to position math as a fun, necessary and critical component in life. Understanding Bedtime Math is particularly essential for grantseekers, because as of right now, the Overdeck Family Foundation is only accepting unsolicited grant proposals for "large initiatives that will expand the reach of Bedtime Math."