West coast philanthropies are setting their sights on science. After budget cuts slashed available scientific funding, many charitable and philanthropic organizations stepped up to fill in the gaps. Like other recent tech trends, most of these philanthropies are established on the West Coast, making it the go-to location
for researchers looking for funding.
In an article for Nature, staff writer Erika Check Hayden profiles the situation of Marc Kastner. A physicist, Kaster realized that that 16 of the top-50 philanthropies in the country were based on the West coast. By comparison there were 6 in the entire New York tri-state area. So he struck out west, and formed the Science Philanthropy Alliance. The Palo Alto group is a union of philanthropic organizations with a focus on funding research. They also teach new groups how to go about their own funding, too. Kastner watched brilliant young graduates from top schools struggle to get the funding necessary to start a career in science and medicine, and that was what encouraged him to try to make a difference for the better.
The effort attracted the attention of Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan. Their foundation, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, is pledging 3 billion dollars with the hope of eliminating the worst of human disease by the year 2100. And at a recent gala for the group, the social media titan urged other philanthropists to seek out Kastner for advice.
The Science Philanthropy Alliance also takes care to not dictate what kind of research is done. Instead, they focus on building the best tools and infrastructure necessary for curious minds to find solutions to the problem at hand. Private meetings are also held to determine where and how to direct funds to these projects and the individuals behind them.