Catalytic Grantmaking

Catalytic Grantmaking Catalytic Grantmaking
 
Paul was motivated by ideas — revolutionary ideas that could have the potential to make a dramatic impact, often in areas where it seemed fueling positive change might not be possible. He loved giving others the tools and resources they needed to put concepts into motion, even though risks were involved.
“I hope to be a catalyst. Not only by providing financial resources, but also by fostering a sense of possibility.”
— Paul G. Allen

Over the years, thanks to early support from Paul’s foundation, researchers around the world were given what they needed to move the needle. From funding researchers with a radical idea (at the time) to use human-assisted evolution to save coral reefs, to supporting the development of an Ebola vaccine, to financing the creation of tools to identify elephant and shark poaching hot spots, Paul’s philanthropy helped advance entire fields of research.

He proved these approaches could make a difference, especially when the risks were too great for other, more cautious, philanthropists. In recognition of his and his foundation’s bold efforts, he was awarded the 2015 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy, and in his acceptance speech, he summed up his passion for empowering great minds:

It is an enduring belief in the power of new ideas that informs my philanthropy. One of my core goals is to accelerate discovery, and to provide some of the world’s brightest minds with the resources to solve some of the world’s thorniest challenges… By any measure, our world is facing a host of tough challenges. Every day, the headlines are full of discouraging news.

But we’re also living in an age of great possibility, in which researchers are unlocking the secrets of biology and the universe, entrepreneurs are launching innovative ventures, and artists are showing us new ways to experience the world around us.

So in spite of the great challenges we face, I choose optimism. I hope to be a catalyst. Not only by providing financial resources, but also by fostering a sense of possibility – encouraging top experts to collaborate across disciplines, challenge conventional thinking, and figure out ways to overcome some of the world’s hardest problems.  


Inspired by Paul’s vision and fueled by his resources, catalytic grantmaking continues to this day via the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. Co-founded by Paul and his sister Jody Allen, chair of the foundation’s board of directors, the foundation grants tens of millions of dollars per year to support wildlife conservation, ocean health, vibrant communities, the arts, and scientific discovery around our region and around the world.  

Dr. Ruth Gates was an awardee of the 2014 Paul Allen Ocean Challenge. She passed away in October 2018, but her work continues.
A 2015 grant investigating the possibilities of seaweed cultivation to mitigate ocean acidification.
 
Dr. Ruth Gates was an awardee of the 2014 Paul Allen Ocean Challenge. She passed away in October 2018, but her work continues.
A 2015 grant investigating the possibilities of seaweed cultivation to mitigate ocean acidification.
Additional
Stories
Great Elephant Census
Exploration
Great Elephant
Census
The Great Elephant Census was a massive undertaking to survey the remaining savanna elephants across the African continent. Results of this survey shocked the world into action.
Seattle Seahawks
Pacific Northwest
Seahawks
 
Paul purchased the Seattle Seahawks NFL franchise in 1997, and since then the team has gone on to make three Super Bowl appearances.
Microsoft
Futurist
Microsoft
 
Paul's name is, of course, synonymous with Microsoft, the company he co-founded with his friend Bill Gates, which changed the trajectory of modern computing.
MoPOP
Creativity
MoPOP
 
The Museum of Pop Culture opened in 2000 and over the years evolved into a hands-on museum experience celebrating all forms of popular culture and creative expression.
Space
Exploration
Space
 
Paul pursued making space more accessible in ways that would fuel space innovation — including SpaceShipOne, the Allen Telescope Array, and Stratolaunch, the world's largest airplane by wingspan.