I believe philanthropy is a powerful engine for positive change in society. During my first three years at the Moore Foundation, I’ve witnessed this power first hand. In some cases, I’ve seen a spark that ignites a new field of investigation and accomplishment. In others, I’ve watched a steady drive toward impact. In every case, it is the energy of our grantees that fuels progress.
Our founders, Gordon and Betty Moore, encourage us “to find and address important, under-resourced opportunities.” Accomplishing this guarantees that we do not have a ready-made roadmap to our destinations. With our grantees, we can plot new and optimal paths. While the journeys will have unanticipated twists and turns, we always seek landmarks along the way to confirm that we’re still heading in the right direction.
During 2017, our grantmaking in science, environmental conservation, patient care and in the Bay Area has made a meaningful difference. While long-term outcomes are often yet to be attained, the milestones reached this year are worthy of acknowledgement and celebration.
Our 2017 audited financial statements and associated annual report, Momentum, highlight some of the ways the foundation’s projects, partnerships and research expanded understanding and impact in our fields of interest.
The value of the decisions and investments we made in 2017 may not be understood for years to come. Yet, we are confident that decisions such as engaging libraries in science learning and our commitment to safeguard the oceans of North America were important steps toward the positive change we seek.
- A total solar eclipse: Residents of the U.S. had the opportunity to experience an extraordinary event on August 21, 2017: a total solar eclipse was visible across the width of the country, something that had not occurred in nearly 100 years. To encourage learning around this spectacular event, we supported the Space Science Institute’s National Center for Interactive Learning and StarNet to distribute two million solar eclipse viewing glasses, and accompanying educational materials, through a network of more than 7,000 public libraries across the nation.
- Marine Conservation Initiative: In August 2017, we announced our renewed commitment to conserving North American oceans. Between 2017 and 2024, our Marine Conservation Initiative will invest $152 million in organizations who are working to sustain the marine environment upon which we all depend, from the Arctic, to British Columbia, to the U.S. West Coast. Originally launched in 2004, the initiative promotes healthy, sustainable marine ecosystems and has helped safeguard our oceans’ productivity, biodiversity and resources.
The report also showcases the benefits of our long-term commitment to foster pathbreaking scientific discovery, environmental conservation, patient care improvements and preservation of the special character of the San Francisco Bay Area. These select 2017 achievements serve as significant markers of progress in the fields where we invest.
- Tools and technology for sustainability: As Earth’s human population swells, so does our demand for food. Leadership in the business sector is essential to ensure that these resources, critical both to humanity’s long-term survival and the corporate bottom line, are abundant long into the future. New tools and technological advancements help businesses with improved monitoring and supply chain transparency. In 2017, our grantees continued to secure corporate sector commitments and, by developing new tools and technology, helped supply chain actors and financial institutions implement them.
- Solving the puzzles of quantum materials: Quantum materials are a broad class of materials with novel electronic properties and pronounced quantum-mechanical behavior. In these materials the collective behavior of electrons leads to many novel, often unexpected, properties, such as transport of electrical current without resistance and the creation of emergent particles with properties different from any known elementary particle. In 2017, researchers funded by our Emergent Phenomena in Quantum Systems Initiative pushed the frontiers of understanding emergent behavior in complex quantum systems.
- Opening Betty Irene Moore Hall: Inspired by Betty Irene Moore’s desire to make the delivery of health care safer for all patients, we work to improve the experience and outcomes of patient care. Recognizing the critical role nurses play in the care continuum, we made a commitment to the University of California at Davis in 2007 to establish the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing. In 2017, the school of nursing opened Betty Irene Moore Hall. The next generation of nurses and nurse leaders are now being trained in this state-of-the-art facility.
- Renewal for Tunitas Creek Beach: Tunitas Creek meets the Pacific Ocean halfway between Pescadero and Half Moon Bay. There, at the mouth of the creek and bounded by steep cliffs, a 58-acre property that includes the wide, sandy shore has become a hopeful story of renewal and conservation. In November 2017, Peninsula Open Space Trust announced the acquisition of Tunitas Creek Beach. Overused in recent years, the site had been degraded with negative repercussions for the health of the ecosystem. But the acquisition turned the story’s proverbial tide, with rehabilitation and stewardship that will benefit the coastal ecosystem and the generations of visitors who will now be able to come and enjoy it.
Driving toward impact
Change takes time. While our approach to philanthropy requires that we never lose sight of our final destinations, it’s helpful to recognize just how far we’ve traveled. The achievements summarized above, and numerous others, affirm that we’re on the right path toward reaching our goals.
We are reminded every day of the extraordinary privilege afforded us to apply the resources of the Moore Foundation to accomplish lasting good. None of it would be possible without the continued ingenuity and hard work of our grantees, and we are deeply grateful to them.
Harvey V. Fineberg, M.D., Ph.D.
Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation