Thomas and Stacey Siebel Foundation: Grants for STEM Education


OVERVIEW: The family foundation of tech and investment billionaire Thomas Siebel prioritizes four main funding areas: the homeless and underprivileged, education and research, public health, and energy solutions.

IP TAKE: There are two ways to secure support from Siebel’s science education funding—become one of a handful of favored universities, or win a Siebel Scholar award. Unfortunately, eligibility for the latter is limited to students from a short list of pre-selected universities.

PROFILE: Created in 1996, The Siebel Foundation is the private foundation of Thomas Siebel, who was first an executive in technology companies and later business investment. The foundation seeks to “support projects and organizations that work to improve the quality of life, environment, and education of its community members.” It prioritizes funding for the homeless and underprivileged, educational and research programs, public health, and energy solutions. Siebel makes targeted grants, does not invite applications, and supports a limited number of initiatives. Of those grants, a number go to universities, some for science programs.

The core of the foundation is the Siebel Scholars program, which funds graduate students in science and business and then recruits them to help guide the foundation's future initiatives. The foundation also supports a handful of favored universities as well as its own stem cell and energy research institutes.

Since 2000, the Siebel Scholars program awards grants to pre-selected universities, which nominate their leading computer science, bio-engineering, and business graduate students. The foundation chooses winners “based on outstanding academic performance and leadership,” and awardees “receive a $35,000 award toward their final year of studies.”

Examples of work the foundation funds includes initiatives in computer science and data analysis for projects such as mapping the human genome or winning presidential elections.

New grantseekers can search a database of Siebel Scholars here. Profiles include a brief bio and a synopsis of each scholar’s work.

Once the scholarship ends, Siebel Scholars continue to advise the foundation. Scholars also join a collaborative that meets at Siebel Scholars conferences to share ideas on big global issues and often involve U.S. and international decision-makers. In addition, the program occasionally continues to fund its scholars’ future projects.

Some of the ideas from Siebel conferences influence the Siebel Foundation’s other grantmaking, such as the creation of the Siebel Stem Cell Institute (SSCI). Funded by the foundation, SSCI is a joint program between the University of California, Berkeley Stem Cell Center, and the Stanford Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. More information about the SSCI can be found in its annual report, available at the foundation’s website.

Additionally, Siebel launched the Siebel Energy Institute, a multi-university “consortium for innovative and collaborative energy research” that offers $25,000 and $50,000 research grants “to accelerate advancements in the safety, security, reliability, efficiency and environmental integrity of modern energy systems.” Before jumping into SEI’s call for proposals, keep in mind that its grants are again limited to the consortium’s university members.

While the Scholars program is the foundation’s largest higher education program, Siebel also funds a small number of grants to universities. Many university grants are allocated “to support academic and scholarship programs,” and recipient universities include the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, MIT, the University of Chicago, and Princeton. The foundation also created the Thomas M. Siebel Chair in Computer Science at UC Berkeley.

The foundation does not accept unsolicited applications.