Letter from the President: September 2017

When we describe the Foundation, we often use the phrase, “Unlocking knowledge, opportunity, and possibilities.” It reflects our fundamentally optimistic view of the world, and our belief in the potential for improvement in the human condition.

In particular, we believe that unlocking opportunities for all is an imperative—yielding advantages not just for individuals, but for society. We all benefit when those who have been excluded are included. Working toward a society that opens opportunities for all is critical, and we are using both our grantmaking and our voice in support of that aim.

As you know, we have a large grantmaking program in Science, supporting fundamental research. But we also recognize that, although women make up almost 50 percent of physics students in high school, they comprise just 10 percent of full professors in physics in the United States. And in astronomy, the numbers aren’t much better, with women making up only 15 percent of full professors. That’s why the Foundation recently approved new work to fund projects over the next five years that will create a more inclusive, robust, and innovative physics and astronomy community in the United States. We are excited about increasing opportunity for women in these fields. I invite you to learn more about this new grantmaking by visiting our Science program’s description of this work. You can also view our photo essay on this topic, entitled For the Good of Science, here.

There have also been two recent instances when we saw opportunities for people being curtailed, and felt the imperative to speak out and stand in solidarity with our many grantee partners.

In August, we were saddened, angered, and horrified by what transpired in Charlottesville. But we were inspired by your voices of equity, inclusion, empathy, and justice. You can read your many powerful messages here.

And just last week, we joined CEOs from other foundations in denouncing President Trump’s decision to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This is not simply a matter of policy. This is a matter of human decency. That’s why the Foundation has supported organizations working with undocumented youth to apply for DACA from the beginning.  You can read that statement, along with the messages of the many grantees we have supported over the years and who are now working tirelessly to fight this injustice, here.

As always, I thank you for your work. We never forget how fortunate we are to collaborate with such thoughtful partners, and to have resources to support a quest for greater understanding and improvement to social and environmental problems. We feel privileged to be part of your community, and to fight for opportunity for all.

Sincerely,

Deanna Gomby
President & CEO
Heising-Simons Foundation

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