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Letter from the President: March 2016

Dear Colleagues:

From the ceiling in one corner of our office hangs a mobile. I often find visitors to the Foundation, even our staff, passing by and tilting their heads up to take it in. Its pieces remind us of the many partners that make up this Foundation’s work: blue squares, triangles, and letters for the organizations focused on early childhood education; silver sparkling stars for the scientists researching and testing the mysteries of the universe; green spheroids for the environmentalists working on approaches to clean energy; and many other shapes and colors that reflect the leaders working on additional critical issues, such as human rights and undocumented communities. A family foundation is nothing without the grantees and partners it funds, and we consider ourselves incredibly lucky to work with, and fund, some of the leaders in these spaces.

Last year was an exciting one for the Heising-Simons Foundation. We moved into our new home in Los Altos, California. We grew our staff to more than 20 people. And we were able to award more than $42.8 million, through 188 grants and one program-related investment, to organizations doing incredible work.

Those grants were divided among the several areas dear to the hearts of the Heising-Simons family, and important to the country’s future:

  • Our Science program supports fundamental science research primarily in the physical sciences and climate change science. In 2015, this meant awarding 25 grants and one program-related investment for a total of $10.5 million. This included support for research in astronomy, cosmology, general relativity, and paleoclimatology, as well as funding observatories and large-scale instrumentation.
  • Our Education program aims to prepare children from birth through 8 years old for school and life. In 2015, this meant awarding 75 grants for a total of more than $22.9 million. This included work in several areas: increasing the number of children exposed to high-quality math instruction and activities; greater family engagement, be it enlisting parents and family caregivers in their children’s education, promoting parents’ skills as advocates, or helping schools and early childhood programs incorporate parents as decision-making partners; advocacy and policy explorations in early childhood education; and easing children’s educational transitions, among other work.
  • Our Climate & Clean Energy program, working with our trusted advisors at Energy Innovation, aims to hasten the transition to a zero-carbon energy future, and provides support for policy analysis to develop market-driven solutions to protect fisheries and oceans. In 2015, this included 13 grants for $5.3 million.

In addition, our Foundation made 75 grants in 2015, totaling more than $4 million out of a fund that awards grants initiated by the Board, including in the areas of human rights, criminal justice, and undocumented communities. Through this fund, the Foundation also supports leading institutions and select organizations that strengthen communities in San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties.

But numbers and dollars can’t fully reflect the great work being done. I plan to continue writing to you, sharing a few examples of these issues and the ways in which we and our programs are evolving. We are also working to launch a new website this summer, and you’ll notice that we have already refreshed our logo. Finally, we invite you to follow us on Twitter at @HSFdn to stay connected with the Foundation.


Deanna Gomby
President & CEO
Heising-Simons Foundation