Bay Area Green Funder Steers Toward Local Transit and Planning

The Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund has been ramping up giving in the past few years, ever since a big transfer of wealth in the family. One realm this San Francisco green funder has been delving into lately is transit and sustainable communities. 

Richard and Rhoda Goldman were legendary philanthropists in the San Francisco Bay Area, especially among Jewish organizations and environmentalists. In particular, the Goldmans—whose wealth comes from the Levi Strauss fortune—made a name for themselves in green circles with their Goldman Environmental Prize, which rewarded edgy activists around the world. 

Related - The Six Winners of the 'Green Nobel' for Grassroots Activism

The elder Goldmans have both passed away, and their philanthropic legacy has transferred to the family’s three heirs. Enter the Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund. The couple has been increasing giving in recent years, and to a pretty big range of topics.  

While they give quite a lot to conservation projects, one interesting field in which they’ve become a force is the more urban strain of environmentalism involving transportation and sustainability. It’s a bit of an ad hoc interest, and they haven’t quite taken the plunge toward urban environmentalism like we’ve seen with peers such as Bullitt up in Seattle, but it’s been interesting to see grants crop up in pursuit of smart development, sustainable businesses, and public transit. 

One such recent gift went to the Great Communities Collaborative, in the amount of $60,000 to improve public transit options in Northern California. The Bay Area-nonprofit is dedicated to development of livable communities, anchored around having good public transit. Another repeat grantee in the past couple of years is TransFormCA. This Oakland-based group has a very similar mission, and received $60,000 for a program to create incentives for developers and cities to reduce residents’ driving. Goldman has also supported a climate adaptation plan for San Francisco, and sustainable schools and local businesses. 

I’ll admit to being a pretty big fan of this kind of funding, mainly because local and regional programs to reduce carbon emissions are some of the only such efforts to tackle global warming that aren’t completely depressing. We’re seeing big funders like Kresge and Rockefeller backing such efforts, and it's cool to see local family funders getting on board, in addition to protecting beloved outdoor locales.  

Related: Goldman Heirs Follow Family Legacy with Conservation in the Bay Area and Beyond