Archived Foundation Publicity

(Please note: Due to the short shelf-life of article links in daily publications, you may find that the direct link no longer leads to the article. We have also provided the publication's URL so that you can request an archived article, usually for a fee, if you want to read one in its entirety.)

"Even as assets drop, Kirsch Foundation sticks to spending commitment"
Despite the endowment decrease, the Kirsch Foundation plans to maintain a high payout rate. Although many other organizations would rather have the goal of giving in perpetuity, Steve and Michele Kirsch decided they would keep funding their causes.
San Jose Mercury News – John Boudreau, December 8, 2002

"New funding model turns the tables on medical researchers"
This article features Catalyst for a Cure, a three-year research collaborative established by the Kirsch Foundation and the Glaucoma Research Foundation in order to find a cure for glaucoma. This project brings together a team of four researchers who will work together, rather than independently of each other, toward advancements in the field of eye research.
San Jose Business Journal – Danek S. Kaus, March 4, 2002

"Biomedical Philanthropy, Silicon Valley Style"
The prominent science journal Nature highlights the role that high-technology entrepreneurs, including Steve Kirsch, now play in funding biomedical research. These philanthropists have cast aside lengthy grant applications and cumbersome peer-review panels. Funding decisions are placed in the hands of individuals, such as the Foundation's own Director of Medical and Scientific Programs, Dr. Sarah Caddick, who is quoted at length in the article. These individuals are told to get to know the scientists working in a field and to judge projects on the basis of promising and innovative ideas.

This new approach has been dubbed 'venture philanthropy', and is the antithesis of the careful but conservative peer review operated by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The concept is that, by providing seed money to risky projects, the recipients will eventually amass funding from more traditional sources. The article points out that the new entrepreneurs and their staff are adept at strategic analyses and finding where philanthropy dollars can make a difference. Researchers who have already benefited from Silicon Valley philanthropy say this type of funding can mean liberation from the continual and energy-sapping chase for federal research dollars, in other words "We are buying back the researchers' time."
Nature Magazine, Trisha Gura – Vol. 410, March 8, 2001

"Giving is a "Feel Good Thing" for Computer Guru Kirsch"
This Opulence Magazine story showcases Steve and Michele Kirsch's commitment to philanthropy and how they contribute their time and money to help solve problems.
Opulence Magazine, Dan Gleason – Millennium Issue 2001

"Donor Class Rules"
This Worth Magazine cover story about Steve and Michele Kirsch details their unique views on charitable giving and how they have influenced other philanthropists.
Worth Magazine, John Sedgwick – December/January 2001

Steve Kirsch and the Foundation win Clean Air ENVY Award
The American Lung Associations of the Bay Area presented a Clean Air ENVY Award for Outstanding Leadership to Steve Kirsch and The Steven and Michele Kirsch Foundation on Friday, May 12, 2000, in San Jose, California. Kirsch and the Foundation were honored for leadership in promoting the use of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) through advocacy for ZEV production requirements, tax incentives, and other benefits for ZEV owners. The Clean Air ENVY Awards recognize outstanding leadership in the commitment to environmental health through public/private partnerships, the institution and promotion of clean air programs, commuter reduction programs, energy saving measures and emission reductions. The American Lung Associations of the Bay Area is dedicated to conquering lung disease and promoting lung health.

Steve and Michele Kirsch are featured in the "100 Most Generous Americans" article in the April issue of Worth Magazine.

Kirsch Foundation Announces Medical Investigator Awards

Inaugural program commits $2 million to support medical research

San Jose, CA – June 19, 2000 -- The Steven and Michele Kirsch Foundation announced today the first-ever beneficiaries of its Investigator Awards program: Dr. Ben A. Barres, Stanford School of Medicine; Dr. Elizabeth H. Blackburn, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF); Dr. Ronald A. DePinho, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School; and Dr. Alexander J. Varshavsky, California Institute of Technology.

The researchers will receive $450,000 each over the next three years to fund their research activities. Their institutions will each receive $90,000 over the same period.

"We are particularly interested in sponsoring individuals who are engaged in innovative research," commented Steve Kirsch, the Foundation's Chairman of the Board, and CEO and founder of Propel Software Corporation. "We focus our funding on curing diseases, rather than treatments. These recipients have the same passion."

The four Kirsch Investigators and their areas of research are:

Ben A. Barres, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Neurobiology
Dr. Barres' proposed work with glial cells may help to explain the impaired ability to remember that is found in many disease conditions where glial cells become abnormal, such as Alzheimer's disease. He has pioneered the development of novel methods for the purification and culture of neurons and glial cells. His research also has important implications for understanding how we learn as well as why the brain and spinal cord are not able to regenerate after injury.

Elizabeth H. Blackburn, PhD, Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics; Professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn is a leader in the area of telomere and telomerase research, and has broad experience in the different aspects of telomere function and biology. Dr. Blackburn's research focuses on telomeres (the ends of human chromosomes), which need the right DNA sequence in order to allow all cells, including cancer cells, to multiply, and telomerase (the enzyme which makes telomeric DNA), which is highly active in most tumors. By manipulating telomerase activity, potential therapeutic uses, such as the treatment of cancer, can be uncovered.

Ronald A. DePinho, MD, American Cancer Society Research Professor; Professor of Medicine and Genetics
Dr. DePinho's study of liver cirrhosis and cancer may lead to innovative therapies directed towards improving liver cell regeneration. His research may discover processes to maintain liver function when liver cirrhosis and cancer lead to chronic liver cell destruction and, ultimately, the liver's failure.

Alexander J. Varshavsky, PhD, Smits Professor of Cell Biology
Dr. Varshavsky's research is aimed at understanding the molecular machinery that mediates the destruction of specific proteins in living cells that regulate gene expression. This understanding is likely to result in the development of drugs that modulate intracellular protein degradation, thereby alleviating a variety of human diseases, including AIDS and cancer.

"We are delighted to support such highly-regarded and cutting-edge researchers," said Kathleen Gwynn, President and CEO of the Kirsch Foundation. "Each Investigator works in an area of medical research that has already demonstrated the potential for significant breakthroughs."

"I am absolutely thrilled and honored to be a recipient of the Kirsch Foundation Award," said Dr. DePinho when informed about the grant. "The support that we will receive will help us launch a program of significant promise for a disease with an enormous worldwide toll."

The Kirsch Foundation relies on its Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) to evaluate and select the recipients. A distinguished group of medical scientists, the SAB reviewed the 20 nominees for the program from the four institutions.

Application materials for the 2001 Investigators program will be available in November 2000.

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"Environmental Studies Grant Given"
This article highlights the recent grant to De Anza College for the Kirsch Center for Environmental Studies capital campaign from the Kirsch Foundation. The monumental gift helps fund a $12 million, 34,000 square foot center. The first of its kind in the western U.S., the structure will be energy-efficient and climate-responsive.
The San Jose Mercury News, John Boudreau -- June 7, 2000

Kirsch Foundation Announces $2 Million Grant to De Anza College
(press release reprinted with permission from De Anza College)

To Be Built on the De Anza College Campus
The Kirsch Foundation Awards $2 Million for an Environmental Studies Center

The Steven and Michele Kirsch Foundation has awarded a $2-million grant to the Foothill-De Anza Community College District to help fund a $12-million, 34,000-square-foot environmental studies center to be built at De Anza College in Cupertino. The energy-efficient, climate-responsive building will be named the Kirsch Center for Environmental Studies and will serve as a national model to educate new generations on becoming environmentally aware citizens.

The district's Board of Trustees approved the grant at a regularly scheduled meeting on June 5. The trustees agreed to name the building in honor of Steven and Michele Kirsch and plan to break ground on the center within one year.

"The Kirsch Foundation expects the value of the $2-million grant to be multiplied many times by virtue of new 'green building' standards that should emerge from the successful construction and use of this particular facility," said Kathleen Gwynn, president and CEO of the Kirsch Foundation.

"It is imperative that innovative projects such as this one are supported," she continued. "We can make progress in addressing environmental issues only through demonstrating that energy efficient and renewable energy technologies work. All of us need to tread more lightly on the earth."

The Foundation has assets in excess of $70 million and distributes the wealth according to the overall goal of the Kirsches - to make the world a better place, primarily by focusing on leverageable activities. They were described on the Kirsch Foundation Web site this way: "Steve and Michele Kirsch are convinced that their financial resources need to be strategically deployed in order to address core issues in medicine, the environment, and the community. They are focused on finding solutions and cures, not simply addressing symptoms. This belief is at the core of the Foundation's activities."

For those reasons and more, the Kirsch Foundation decided to fund the environmental center at De Anza. The proposed building fits both the environmental and local community aspects of the Foundation's mission, it will be the first of its kind in this part of the country, and it demonstrates creativity in using various technologies. In addition, the district has already committed $6 million in bond measure funds to the project with the goal of raising the other half through individual and corporate donations.

Steve Kirsch recently founded Propel Software Corporation Software, a company focused on infrastructure for the expanding Internet e-commerce market. He was the chairman and founder of Infoseek Corporation, a leading Internet navigation service that was acquired by Disney last fall. He is known for carrying out what he believes in; he and his wife each drive an electric car, and he speaks out on the importance of philanthropy. Michele Kirsch, a former real estate broker, is a full-time law student at Santa Clara University, is an active community volunteer, and is raising a family with her husband.

The Kirsch Center for Environmental Studies will be built adjacent to the college's 1.5-acre Environmental Studies Area (ESA). It was created in 1971 by faculty member Doug Cheeseman to show students and community members why it is important to value and preserve the environment. The ESA features 12 habitats found only in California, is used extensively as a laboratory by De Anza students, and is toured by thousands of school children every year.

In recent years, the Kirsches have donated in other ways to Foothill-De Anza. They contributed to Foothill College's Center for Innovation and helped sponsor Dr. Stephen Hawking's lectures and visit to De Anza in January.

Julie Phillips, coordinator of the Environmental Studies Program for 10 years, is thrilled with the $2-million gift and said, "For the last decade, faculty, staff and students on our campus have been committed to developing an innovative environmental program and center dedicated to sustainability. Our educational focus will be interdisciplinary and inclusive and will provide us with the opportunity to partner with public and private sectors in such areas as energy and the environment.

"We've worked tirelessly on this endeavor and feel privileged to share in this vision with Steve and Michele Kirsch who are known for their passion for social and environmental causes," she added. "With this support, we believe we will transform energy policy in California community colleges and in the state of California."

De Anza's Environmental Studies Program has already been recognized by the California Energy Commission with $740,000 in grants to develop a statewide, energy management training program for community college personnel responsible for heating, cooling and lighting systems.

Darren Bouton was the first De Anza student representative on the Environmental Studies Building Committee in 1994, recently completed his graduate degree in energy and environmental policy, and has returned to the campus to teach part time in the Environmental Studies Program. "This center will give us the opportunity to integrate the disciplines of policy, economics and science in our efforts to meet environmental challenges in the 21st century," he remarked. "Students will be introduced to a wide
variety of topics and problem-solving techniques that they will be able to apply to their everyday lives as well as to their work environments." Bouton's decision to come back to De Anza was inspired by the chance to help carry out the vision of the center. "I consider this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I didn't want to miss," he said.

Steve and Michele Kirsch have set high standards of charitable giving in the high-tech community and particularly in Silicon Valley. When the United Way Silicon Valley (formerly the United Way of Santa Clara County) announced an $11-million shortfall in May 1999, the Kirsch Foundation donated $1 million to start an emergency fund to benefit the charities impacted by the shortfall.

The Kirsches have been recognized in various ways for their continued generosity. In April, the Kirsches were ranked No. 96 in Worth magazine's annual list of the "100 Most Generous Americans." In May, Steve Kirsch and the Kirsch Foundation received the Outstanding Leadership Award from the American Lung Association of the Bay Area for promoting the use of zero emission vehicles (ZEVs). In 1999, they were honored as the Outstanding Philanthropist of the Year by the Silicon Valley Chapter of the National Society of Fund Raising Executives.

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Artist rendering of the Kirsch Center for Environmental Studies.
Courtesy of De Anza College.

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"The Geek Who Keeps on Giving"
Steve Kirsch sat down with ZDTV to discuss his views on philanthropy and what causes are of particular importance to him. A video clip of the
interview is also available.
ZDTV, Mark Edo -- March 20, 2000

"Silicon Valley’s Rich, Young Lavish Millions on Charities"
A portrait on philanthropy in Silicon Valley, this piece features Steve Kirsch and the Foundation’s grantmaking to various causes ranging from cancer research to asteroid identification.
The Oregonian, Margie Wylie -- November 26, 1999

"Charity Heroes to be Honored"
Steve and Michele Kirsch were named Silicon Valley’s Outstanding Philanthropists for 1999 by the National Society of Fund Raising Executives, Silicon Valley Chapter for their charitable activities in Silicon Valley.
The San Jose Mercury News, Connie Skipitares -- November 10, 1999

"Venture Philanthropy"
article focusing on "high-tech philanthropy", this feature discusses the Foundation’s grants to causes needing greater visibility and how Steve and Michele Kirsch, and others like them, are changing the landscape of the nonprofit world.
Business 2.0, Murray M. Coffey -- June, 1999

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