NET WORTH: $1.61 billion
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Farallon Capital Management, Hellman & Friedman
FUNDING AREAS: Environment, Education, Global Development, San Francisco Bay Area
OVERVIEW: Thomas Steyer and his wife, Kat Taylor, run the TomKat Foundation, which aims to “support the conditions for healthy human and natural life by championing good money, good food [and] good energy.” The foundation invests in environmental causes, alternative energy and education.
BACKGROUND: Thomas Steyer grew up in New York City. He graduated from Yale University and earned an M.B.A. from Stanford. He began his career on Wall St. at Morgan Stanley and later became a partner at Hellman & Friedman, a San Francisco-based private equity firm. Steyer founded Farallon Capital Management in 1986. Kat Taylor also earned an M.B.A. from Stanford. Together the couple cofounded OneCalifornia Bank, which is now known as Beneficial State Bank and specializes in community development. They also own and operate TomKat Ranch, an environmentally sustainable farming operation that raises grass-fed cattle.
ENVIRONMENT: Steyer and Taylor’s environmental philanthropy prioritizes the development of alternative energy sources. Their largest contribution has been to Stanford University, where they gave $40 million to create the The TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy, which offers seed grants to researchers investigating the scientific and economic aspects of alternative energy. The couple also gave $7 million to create the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy & Finance, a joint program of Stanford's law and business schools. Another past recipient is Yale University, which received $25 million to establish the Energy Sciences Institute. Alongside their California ranch, Steyer and Taylor also run the TomKat Ranch Educational Foundation, which supports ecology and agricultural research on the local level.
EDUCATION: Much of Steyer and Taylor's giving in the area education reflects the couple’s commitment to the environment. In addition to the major gifts to Yale and Stanford, Steyer is a founding board Member of The Center for the Next Generation, which “promotes solutions to two of the biggest challenges confronting the next generation of Americans: The risk of dangerous climate change, and the threat of diminished prospects for children and families.” Steyer is also serves on the board of advisors of Common Sense Media, an organization that supports “parents, teachers, and policymakers by providing unbiased information, trusted advice, and innovative tools to help them harness the power of media and technology as a positive force in all kids’ lives.”
GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT: Steyer and Taylor are major contributors to OneRoof, which provides access to computer technology for people living in rural areas of India.
BAY AREA COMMUNITY: Steyer and Taylor donated the entirety of their interest in the $22.5 million investment they made to found Beneficial State Bank to the Beneficial State Foundation. The foundation works in the San Francisco Bay Area and aims to “engage in educational and charitable activities that eliminate discrimination, encourage affordable housing, alleviate economic distress, stimulate community development and improve the financial capacity for individuals and businesses.”
LOOKING FORWARD: Steyer and Taylor’s philanthropy will likely continue to support environmental research and policy, prioritizing the areas of alternative energy and sustainability.