Steven and Michele Kirsch Foundation

Steven and Michele Kirsch Foundation


* Assets: $666,488 (2009)
* Grants Received: $0 (2009)
* Grants Awarded: $40,698 (2009)
* In October 2007, the Kirsch Foundation announced that it would focus its philanthropy exclusively on cancer research

Steven Kirsch and Michele Kirsch established the charitable foundation bearing their names in 1999, setting it up as an entity within the Community Foundation Silicon Valley, which later (in 2006) merged with the Peninsula Community Foundation to become the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. Focusing heavily on radical environmentalism and the elimination of nuclear weapons, the Kirsch Foundation, from its inception, invested in causes where “high-impact, leverageable activities” could facilitate the creation of “a safe and peaceful world,” as well as “a healthy world … without disease and without pollution of our air, water and land, and one in which all species have the ability to survive and flourish.” The Foundation’s major funding activities during its early years were in the following 6 areas:

* Nuclear Threat: For several years, the Kirsch Foundation was a member of the Peace and Security Funders Group. Asserting that the use of nuclear weapons was “the most significant, world-threatening issue of our time,” the Foundation provided funding to numerous organizations with “credibility in addressing this issue.” Significantly, the Foundation criticized the United States for “actively pursuing strategies, such as new nuclear weapons and a missile-defense system, that seriously jeopardize the current international, treaty-based system.” Missile defense in particular, said the Foundation, was an “unproven” technology that did not merit a place among “U.S. budget priorities.”

In November 2002, the Kirsch Foundation collaborated with the Ploughshares Fund to finance and launch a public-policy effort called the Arms Control Advocacy Collaborative, whose aim was to “advance a common nonproliferation and arms-control agenda in Washington, DC.” In 2004, this Collaborative concentrated its lobbying efforts on five areas: (a) “stopping the Bush Administration’s planned deployment of a missile-defense program”; (b) “halting the development of new nuclear weapons and the possibility of eventual weapons testing”; (c) “reducing nuclear weapons stockpiles”; (d) “protecting against space weaponization”; and (e) “supporting diplomatic efforts to resolve security problems in North Korea, Iran and Iraq.” In May 2004 the members of this Collaborative co-signed a letter to key U.S. senators and congressmen, urging them to cut funding for the expansion and modernization of America’s nuclear arsenal. Co-signatories of this letter included representatives of such organizations as the Arms Control Association, the Council for a Livable World, Greenpeace International, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Peace Action, Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Women’s Action for New Directions, and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

* Environment: Identifying “air quality, petroleum reduction, and global warming” as “the center” of its environmental public-policy agenda, the Kirsch Foundation engaged in lobbying and grant-making to address concerns about air pollution and its effects—both locally (in the San Joaquin Valley) and nationally.

* Political Reform: The Foundation was actively committed to the issue of campaign finance reform, calling specifically for the public financing of elections.

* Medical Science: Throughout its history, one of the Kirsch Foundation’s primary funding priorities has been the search for cures to major diseases.

* Local Support: This program focused on such concerns as “the extremely high cost of housing,” “the increased need for ‘safety net’ services,” and “the potential loss of significant arts and cultural institutions” in Silicon Valley.

* Near Earth Objects: In addition to its other priorities, until December 2004 the Kirsch Foundation also funded initiatives to identify and eliminate threats posed by asteroids with “the potential to destroy or significantly damage the Earth.”

Among the major recipients of Kirsch Foundation grants over the years were: the American Civil Liberties Union, the Arms Control Association, the Aspen Institute, the Campaign for America’s Future, the Council for a Livable World, Demos, the Earth Action Network, the Earth Day Network, Earthjustice, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Environmental Working Group, Friends of the Earth, Global Green USA, the Institute for America’s Future, the Izaak Walton League of America, the League of Conservation Voters (California), the NARAL Pro Choice America Foundation, National Public Radio, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Nature Conservancy, the New America Foundation, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Peace Action, the Peace and Security Funders Group, the People for the American Way Foundation, Physicians for Social Responsibility, PIRG (CalPIRG), the Ploughshares Fund, the Sierra Club, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the United Nations Foundation, Women’s Action for New Directions, and the World Resources Institute.[1]

In August 2007 Steven Kirsch was diagnosed with Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia, a rare form of blood cancer. Two months later, the Kirsch Foundation announced that it would thenceforth focus its philanthropy exclusively on cancer research.

[1] For sources, click here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

(Information on grantees and monetary amounts courtesy of The Foundation Center, GuideStar, ActivistCash, the Capital Research Center and Undue Influence)

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