Category: Philanthropy

Jun 27 2017

Women Forward in Technology Scholarship Program

Are you a woman who is an undergraduate or graduate student enrolled full-time at an accredited university in the US, in a STEM field? If you are, you now have an opportunity to apply for a Women Forward in Technology Scholarship.

Distil Networks just led a group of us, including Foundry Group, Techstars, Cooley, Yesware, Help Scout, Cloudability, Kulesa Faul, FullContact, and Anchor Point Foundation, to raise $50,000 to advance female representation in technology.

We will be awarding multiple scholarships of $3,000. The first deadline to submit is August 1st, 2017, and winners will be announced on September 1st, 2017. Interested applicants must complete a 1,000-word essay, present educational transcripts and deliver one letter of recommendation via the Women Forward in Technology application site.

I would love to see many more women involved in computer science, technology, and entrepreneurship. I’m hopeful that the $50,000 we raised for these scholarships is the start of something that can grow much larger. If you are interested in learning how you or your company can contribute to the scholarship fund, email me.

Comments
Jun 13 2017

Global EIR and Silicon Valley Bank Funding Match

Today Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) announced their support for Global EIR, a cause for which I care deeply. As you may know, over breakfast in 2015 Jeff Bussgang and I launched Global EIR with the hope of advancing the startup visa effort on a local and state level after it stalled in Congress.

Global EIR Performance

Since then, Global EIR has grown to 13 university programs across the country, helping 42 international founders start companies. These companies have created 123 new jobs and raised $29.9 million in investment for the US economy. And there is still an overwhelming demand of visionary international founders that want to start companies in the US. If Global EIR can raise $300,000 this summer, they can scale rapidly over the next 18 months, with an ultimate goal of helping over 10,000 founders per year.

In response to this opportunity, SVB is joining Amy and me in a match challenge to raise $300,000 for Global EIR. For every $1 you donate up to $100,000, Amy and I will donate $1, and SVB will donate $1 on top of that. So – your $1 donation gets a $2 match.

I’m grateful that SVB sees in Global EIR a way to unlock the potential of the next generation of great founders, no matter where they were born. The entire team at SVB is unique among banks in their willingness to make bets on behalf of founders and startups and are often the first stop when a startup needs banking services. What makes this even more impressive is how quickly and consistently the startup community reinvents itself, yet SVB is always there to make a good first impression on new founders.

For these new founders, many were born in other countries and came to the US for a variety of reasons. For some, education brought them here. Others came to turn a great idea into a startup and ultimately into a world-changing company. Like SVB, the world’s founders know that the US has the right ingredients of capital, talent, and a culture that celebrates risk-taking. However, despite over a dozen countries creating visas to attract international founders, the US still does not have a startup visa.

When I reached out to long time friends at SVB, including Pamela Aldsworth and John China, they immediately were supportive of the idea of Global EIR. SVB had previously supported the Global EIR program in Boston with the University of Massachusetts, so I was delighted when they jumped on the opportunity to join a fundraising match with me across the entire country. It turns out that SVB’s general counsel, Michael Zuckert, is passionate about this issue and will be joining the Global EIR board.

Through Global EIR, universities run programs that help international founders obtain a visa, stimulate entrepreneurship at their universities, and unlock economic development in communities across the US. Global EIR supports programs throughout the US, currently ranging from Anchorage to Boston and seeks to expand to everywhere in between. We want to ensure that the world’s best and brightest founders continue to see the US as the best place to build their businesses and create jobs.

As many of longtime readers know, I’ve long been supportive of the startup visa. In 2009, I was inspired when two of the ten Techstars Boulder companies that year had international founders. With a startup visa, their promising companies would have an easy immigration pathway to create American jobs. Without one, they struggled to manage their visa status while also building their businesses. It should have been trivial for them to stay in the US; it wasn’t.

As with the entrepreneurs Global EIR helps, the organization began as a chaotic startup with Craig Montuori and Chris Nicholson leading Global EIR over the past two years. They learned a ton with our pilot schools UMass, CU Boulder, and SJSU. We were fortunate to have great partners in Bill Brah, George Deriso, and Anuradha Basu to help us figure this out to the point where we are now ready to scale to all 50 US states.

When we decided to have Global EIR go through the Techstars Boulder earlier this year as a non-profit, our goal was to get them ready to scale up. The experience of Techstars Boulder exceeded all expectations, and it’s great to see the Global EIR team start to take things to the next level.

For my VC friends, every time you invest in a brilliant immigrant founder, consider joining me and SVB in supporting Global EIR so that the next immigrant founder can have the chance to pitch to you. Email me and let’s talk about how to partner together in this work.

If you are a foreign entrepreneur who wants to build your company in the US, also email me, and I’ll connect you to the program.

Comments
Jun 11 2017

I’m Proud of Our Community

I woke up this morning to see the following on our Human Utility monthly match Crowdrise campaign.

It blew me away. I’m proud of our community. Y’all are awesome. THANK YOU.

I then poked around to see how we got there and saw Fred Wilson’s blog post on the wrap up of the #GiveWater campaign. We crossed $20k last night so our $20k (Fred/Joanne/Brad/Amy) was released. And, Jessica Livingston matched the $20k again, so that was another $20k. Thank you, Jessica. Super awesome.

But we aren’t done. When we started this project, we decided we’d run things through Sunday night. So, if you want to help people in Detroit and Baltimore who are having trouble affording their water bill get water, jump into the #GiveWater fundraiser!

Comments
Jun 9 2017

Monthly Match: The Human Utility #GiveWater

Does it surprise you that some people in the United States don’t have regular access to water?

Our month match for June is The Human Utility. Fred Wilson, Joanne Wilson, Amy Batchelor, and I are matching up to $20,000 of contributions via our #GiveWater campaign.

Hunter Walk introduced us to The Human Utility at the beginning of the year. Access to water has always been something that Amy and I support. We first started thinking about this after hearing about  Charity Water a while ago from Chris Sacca, who has been a major supporter of them over the years.

When I heard from Hunter that there was an organization in Detroit that paid the water bills for people who couldn’t afford to do it, I immediately loved the idea. The Detroit Water Project has evolved into The Human Utility and now provides funding for water in both Detroit and Baltimore. From their website:

Water companies are turning off the tap in cities across the U.S., forcing low-income families, seniors and single parents to live without basic necessities. Families without water are forced to go elsewhere to take showers, clean dishes and get a drink. Your donation can help turn the water back on.

When you give a donation to The Human Utility, 100% of your contribution goes to directly pay the water bill of someone in immediate need.

To donate and have your contribution matched, go here and hit the big blue Donate button. Then, tweet out your donation to spread the word.

Comments
May 4 2017

Monthly Match: Planned Parenthood: #istandwithPP

Amy and I have been supporting Planned Parenthood every year since we became a couple in 1990. Today, the House is going to vote on a bill that, among other things, defunds Planned Parenthood. I’m long past my surprise by any of what is coming out of Washington, so instead of being shocked, I’m just continuing to take action on things that are important to me.

So, your Monthly Match team (Fred Wilson, Joanne WilsonAmy Batchelor, Susan Danziger, Albert Wenger and me) is launching this month’s match for Planned Parenthood.

As I read Joanne’s post on this, I thought she said it well.

“Our Government, that is right, our Government that is for the people, is holding a vote today on the American Health Care Act (Obamacare) with the hopes to defund Planned Parenthood (and much more). For those who can not afford healthcare for basic needs such as proactive check-ups, prenatal care, pap smears and more is that the cost to care for those who find themselves ill (or their children) is a bigger drain on our economy than funding organizations like Planned Parenthood. It is wrong not to fund Planned Parenthood and it is shortsighted. I will never understand those who do not believe in being socially responsible for their fellow person.”

At this point, I’m not going to argue with those who disagree with me. Instead, I’m going to encourage those of you who agree with me (and Fred, Joanne, Amy, Susan, and Albert) to join us in our monthly match and help raise at least $60k for Planned Parenthood.

Here is how the monthly match works

  1. Go to our match offer page and click the big Donate button
  2. Select any amount (min is $10) and click the big Donate button again
  3. Enter your payment credentials and click the big Donate button again
  4. Click the big Tweet Your Donation button
  5. Once you have done all of that your donation will automatically be matched
  6. If you don’t have Twitter, forward your email receipt to MatchMe@crowdrise.com

I hope you will join us in supporting Planned Parenthood on this difficult day for all who care about women’s reproductive health and women’s health more broadly.

Comments
Apr 3 2017

Help Earth Have A Lawyer

Today (Monday 4/3) is the last day of our Earthjustice fundraiser. We have matching funds up to $40k. So far, we’ve raised $25,200 from 179 people. Help us get to $40k (which will result in an $80k gift) to Earth’s Lawyer.

Comments
Apr 1 2017

#EarthMatch – Supporting Earthjustice Because Our Planet Needs a Good Lawyer

Planet Earth needs a good lawyer.

If you are as appalled as I am by the hostility of the Trump Administration to climate change, clean energy, and what appears to be a systematic effort to dismantle the EPA, then please support this month’s #EarthMatch fundraiser that JoanneFred, Amy, AlbertSusan, and I are matching up to $30,000.

This month we are funding Earthjustice, which started in the 1960s as the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund. Since then, Earthjustice has been the legal backbone for thousands of environmental organizations. They leverage their expertise and commitment to fight for justice and advance the promise of a healthy world for all. Earthjustice’s courtroom fights remain the last lines of defense for many of our crucial public health protections and the nation’s cornerstone environmental laws.

What Earthjustice does – go to court to force government action, make polluters clean up their messes, and hold dirty energy industries accountable – is now more important than ever.

Here is how #EarthMatch works:

  1. Go to our EarthMatch page on Crowdrise and give any amount (minimum is $10).
  2. After you complete the donation, tweet your donation out using the blue Tweet button on the post donation page. That will register it for our match.
  3. If you don’t use Twitter, you can forward your email receipt by following the instructions on the post donation page. Tweeting is much better though as it will amplify the campaign.

Please join us in doing that to get the word out. And please donate to Earthjustice. We will match your donation up to $30k of total donations this weekend.

Comments
Mar 29 2017

Funding All Projects on DonorsChoose in Alaska

Amy and I just funded all of the unfunded DonorsChoose projects in Alaska as part of the annual DonorsChoose #BestSchoolDay event. As part of the #BestSchoolDay program, your donation is matched. In all of the Alaska projects, Aspect Ventures matched our donation. Huge thanks to Jennifer Fonstad, Theresia Gouw, and team!

Amy grew up in Alaska and we have a house in Homer, which is what motivated us to support Alaska this year on #BestSchoolDay. As I was supporting projects, I saw one in Homer and a few Sphero and littleBits requests which made me smile.

We’ve been continuous supporters of DonorsChoose for many years. Whenever I have a shitty day, I often go to DonorsChoose and support a few projects. It’s generated some incredibly satisfying moments for me, like a connection with Monica Zamora, a fourth grade teacher in Edgewater, NJ. I funded several programs for her students including some BB-8s and some littleBits. I gave a 30 minute Skype talk to her class, where I met a budding CEO of a new company called SockWorld who pitched me on her new business around socks. Or, the time I got a note from Norma Gibson at Carr Creek Elementary in Littcarr, Kentucky. At her initiative, she pointed me to a number of projects at her school which we funded. Her appreciation – for her students – lept out through the email to me.

If you are motivated to participate, I encourage you to pick some projects on DonorsChoose in the city you grew up in.

Today, we funded 72 projects, which delights us. If you want to see a few examples, check out:

White Boards to Think It, Write It, and Share It!

Math in the 21st Century

Who, What, When and Where: Books With Answers

Building Young Architects

Geocaching Field Experience

Got Power? We Need Charging Stations

Good Women’s Hygiene

Science Books and Supplies

Iditarod: The Last Great READ

Coding Into the Future!

Maker Space For Twenty-First Century Learners

Putting the DNA in our DNA Fingerprint

Little Bits for Science Exploration

Comments
Mar 2 2017

Immigration Fundraiser: For Here or To Go

A little over a year ago I wrote a post about a feature film Amy and I were helping fund called For Here or To Go. The movie is about a set of Indian software developers in the US on H1-B visas. The main character wanted to start a company, or join a startup, but couldn’t make either happen in the context of the current H1-B visa constraints.

It felt relevant when we helped fund it. It seems even more relevant today. It’s an excellent movie and my punch line from the blog post a year ago was:

“Now, this wasn’t a dry movie. While I don’t know Indian culture very well, Rishi created a rich set of characters, interwoven storylines, and a powerful content – including the challenge of romantic relationships while having an uncertain future around one’s immigration status – that drew me in to the movie.”

For Here or To Go is now finished and will be out at the end of March. Amy and I committed to match up to $25,000 of a $55,000 fundraising campaign to help get wider distribution for move. If this is something you are willing to participate in, go to the Crowdrise page and give whatever amount you are willing, knowing that Amy and I are matching you dollar for dollar.

Comments
Feb 26 2017

Film: American Muslim Storytellers

Over the weekend, our Monthly Match for the National Immigration Law Center raised over $47,000,. For everyone who contributed, thank you!

In the emails I got, one stood out. It pointed me at an Indiegogo campaign for a documentary done by American Muslim Storytellers. The timing of the email was particularly good as I had just read a Washington Post Story about American Muslims raising money to repair vandalized Jewish cemetery

I went and took a look at the Indiegogo page and was delighted by the first video.

And educated by the second video.

Amy and I decided to contribute to the campaign to put together the documentary for American Muslim Storytellers at the Executive Producer level. If the videos inspire you as they did me, please help out at whatever level you feel comfortable with.

Comments