Our Story

Founded in 2006, The Schmidt Family Foundation is the first of several philanthropic organizations and initiatives Eric and Wendy Schmidt created to work toward a healthier and more just world. Veterans of Silicon Valley, the couple sought to bring the dynamism, optimism and power of networks and communities to drive change from the world of technology to the world of philanthropy. The Schmidt Family Foundation makes grants and impact investments through two programs, the 11th Hour Project, founded in 2006, and Schmidt Marine Technology Partners, founded in 2015.

The Foundation also supports the work of ReMain Nantucket, founded in 2008, which applies the lessons and strategies of the Foundation’s environmental work within the context of a small community threatened by sea level rise, and 11th Hour Racing, founded in 2010, which encourages sustainable practices in the sport of sailing and the maritime industry. That same year, realizing the crucial role of the ocean in maintaining the health of the planet and its people, the Schmidts created Schmidt Ocean Institute, acquiring and retrofitting a decommissioned fisheries protection ship as a research vessel and making it available to scientists around the world to explore the oceans and pursue marine research.

In 2017, Eric and Wendy created Schmidt Futures, an initiative that identifies talented individuals from across disciplines and supports their big ideas for solving problems in science and society.

Our Founders

Eric and Wendy Schmidt have been active philanthropists since 2006, when they started the Schmidt Family Foundation to address challenges facing communities around the world, working for clean renewable energy, healthy food systems, healthy oceans and the protection of human rights. They also founded Schmidt Ocean Institute to advance oceanographic research by offering access to the world’s first year-round philanthropic research vessel in exchange for making their findings publicly available. In 2017, the couple founded Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative that invests in exceptional people making the world better and brings them together in interdisciplinary networks to solve problems in science and society.

Eric Schmidt led Google as CEO for a decade and as executive chairman for four years. He also served as executive chairman of Alphabet for three years and as technical advisor. A journalist early in her career, Wendy Schmidt also worked in marketing communications in Silicon Valley and since 2006 has led the couple’s philanthropy as president of the Schmidt Family Foundation and Schmidt Ocean Institute.

Our Method

The Schmidt Family Foundation works to restore a balanced relationship between people and planet through two methods: grantmaking and impact investing.

We award grants primarily through our two programs–the 11th Hour Project and Schmidt Marine Technology Partners–as well as through several of our related entities, including 11th Hour Racing, Schmidt Ocean Institute and ReMain Nantucket. Our grants support organizations on the frontlines of environmental justice, in communities working to advance clean energy, strengthen sustainable food systems and restore ocean health. We believe that creating a network of changemakers–across sectors, disciplines and geographies–is more powerful than focusing on any single place, field or strategy. We learn from the organizations we fund and the communities they serve, and we take risks to be first or early funders.

We make impact investments to provide capital that is patient, purposeful and flexible to organizations that share our goal of restoring the relationship between people and planet. We offer flexible capital in various forms, such as low-interest loans, equity stakes, convertible notes and recoverable grants, as we seek out transformational early-stage projects that may not otherwise attract investment from traditional sources. We prioritize social returns over financial, and we use investments to further our mission and help solve global challenges. We also invest in community development financial institutions, funds and other entities that share our goals.

We proactively seek out grant and investment opportunities and do not accept unsolicited proposals. To learn more about our work, please visit the websites of our programs and related organizations, linked from the home page.