The Heising-Simons Foundation is a family foundation based in Los Altos and San Francisco, California. The Foundation works with its many partners to advance sustainable solutions in climate and clean energy, enable groundbreaking research in science, enhance the education of our youngest learners, and support human rights for all people.
Mark Heising and Liz Simons each grew up with a tradition of giving, learning about the importance of the communities that surrounded them, and of the value of philanthropy. They met at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1979. Liz earned her masters in education from Stanford University, became a Spanish-bilingual teacher, and founded Stretch to Kindergarten, a spring-summer early childhood education program. Mark earned his master’s in electrical engineering and computer sciences from the University of California, Berkeley, became a chip design engineer, and went on to hold six U.S. patents. In 2007, they established the Foundation, and were later joined on the board by their daughter, Caitlin Heising. In 2016, Liz and Mark joined the Giving Pledge, publicly committing the majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes. You can read the letter they wrote about why they joined here.
The Foundation’s board and staff feel incredibly fortunate to work with, and support, great leaders and organizations in vital endeavors.
In 2020, the Foundation awarded more than $127.7 million. Since its first grant in 2007, the Foundation has awarded more than $773M million. To learn more about the Foundation’s grantmaking totals each year, and grants per program, please visit our Year at a Glance interactive infographic page. To learn more about the Foundation’s staff, please visit the Our People page and our Staff Demographics page. To learn more about the Foundation’s sustainability practices, please visit the Sustainable Work Practices page.
To learn more about the Foundation’s commitment and orientation toward equity in our work, please visit the Equity Framework page.
The Heising-Simons Foundation is a proud member of Glasspockets, a service of the Foundation Center that champions philanthropic transparency in an online world. Click here to visit our profile.
We recognize that we don’t have all the answers, and we seek to be open-minded and responsive as we continually learn.
We do not shy away from tough issues. We stand with our grantees and partners and speak out on the issues we care about as a foundation.
We believe all people should be treated fairly, with dignity and respect.
We believe all people deserve the chance to live up to their full potential.
We commit to long-term progress and solutions.
We believe in creativity and novel approaches driven by curiosity, research, and strategic collaborations. We are willing to take risks on potentially breakthrough initiatives.
We care about the people we work with and support. We seek to build relationships in which our partners will be open with feedback and hold us accountable as much as we do them.
We believe in honesty, transparency, and living up to these values.