The Stephen M. Silberstein Foundation was established by Stephen Silberstein in Belvedere, California, in May 1998. Records indicate the Foundation held more than $112 million in assets and donated about $6 million to left-of-center causes. According to Inside Philanthropy, “Nearly every major progressive policy and advocacy group in the U.S. has received money from Silberstein in recent years.”
Silberstein made his fortune as co-founder and first president of Innovative Interfaces, established in 1978. The company emerged from Silberstein’s work as a computer programmer in the 1970s in the University of California Berkeley library, where he was responsible for the library’s total automation program which replaced a manual card catalog with a computer system. Innovative Interfaces develops automated systems for libraries, and has 2,400 library systems installed in 9,500 libraries in 66 countries.
Education & Libraries
Berkeley and the Berkeley area have received substantial support from Silberstein and his foundation. A trustee of UC Berkeley Foundation and UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy, Silberstein gave a $1 million grant to UC Berkeley Foundation in 2013. He has also given to the Berkeley Public Education Foundation as well as the Oakland School of the Arts. He supports libraries as well. Silberstein is on the board of the Belvedere-Tiburon Library Foundation. According to recent records, more than $200,000 went to Berkeley Public Library over two years. Donations have also been made to Belvedere-Tiburon Library and Alameda Free Library Association.
Policy & Human Rights
The Silberstein Foundation has made grants to many human rights groups and left of center policy outfits. Recipients of foundation donations include the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Impact Fund, Tides Foundation, Amnesty International, Media Matters, the American Constitution Society, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Brennan Center for Justice, Campaign for America’s Future, the Center for American Progress, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Common Cause, Economic Policy Institute, the Nation Institute, People for the American Way, Pro Publica, Human Rights Watch, and J street.
The Stephen M. Silberstein Foundation does not have a website and Silberstein keeps a low public presence.
Among environmentalist groups grantees include NatureBridge, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Rainforest Action Network, San Francisco Baykeeper, Seacology, and the Sierra Club Foundation.
Arts & Culture
Silberstein has given to explicitly political left-wing arts groups like the Brave New Foundation, which supports Brave New Films and Kitchen Sisters Productions. It also supports more conventional groups such as the San Francisco Film Society and the Berkeley Repertory Theater.