Turning Points

The Kenneth Rainin Foundation is delighted to share highlights and progress from our own efforts and from the work of our grantees—the talented organizations we are privileged to support.

We experienced pivotal moments in 2014. These turning points represented growth within our arts, education and health programs, and will chart our course into 2015 and beyond.


A message from Jen Rainin, CEO, Kenneth Rainin Foundation

Arts: Bold and Creative Leadership

In 2014 we continued to fund dynamic, cross-disciplinary partnerships, new and experimental works, and creative placemaking to achieve a more vibrant, sustainable arts ecosystem in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Storytelling: Narrative Films With Social Justice Themes

This year we partnered with the San Francisco Film Society (SFFS) on the Filmmaker360 FilmHouse Residency, a workshop and creative hub for filmmakers, and launched the Producer Fellowships, a six-month program for US-based independent producers working on narrative features. Both programs provide support, access to industry connections, and contribute to a growing network of gifted filmmakers.

“Our partnership with San Francisco Film Society is powerful because our goals are aligned. We dream together and we bring complementary strengths to our work.” — Jen Rainin, CEO, Rainin Foundation

New Solutions: Inspiring the Creative Economy

In 2014 we continued our ground-breaking work with the Community Arts Stabilization Trust (CAST), an organization seeded by the Rainin Foundation and created in partnership with the Northern California Community Loan Fund. CAST works with arts organizations to establish stable physical spaces and sustain the arts in San Francisco neighborhoods.

CAST purchased two properties in the Central Market district and identified two arts organizations—CounterPULSE and the Luggage Store Gallery—in need of permanent homes. Both organizations took the major step of launching capital campaigns in 2014 to support their renovation plans.

National Award for CAST

Shelley Trott, Director of Arts Strategy and Ventures, received the prestigious Council on Foundation’s Robert Scrivner Award for Creative Grantmaking in recognition of her work with CAST.

Shelley Trott receives the Scrivner Award at the Council on Foundation’s fall conference.

“By advancing the presence of art in innovative ways, Shelley is providing meaningful change in her community and encouraging ingenuity across the field.” — Vikki Spruill, President and CEO of the Council on Foundations

Pushing Boundaries: New and Experimental Works

The Rainin Foundation supports visionary arts organizations that are pushing boundaries in content and form while moving ideas from the margins to the mainstream. One such event we support, the San Francisco Dance Film Festival’s 2014 Co-Laboratory, brings together three teams of choreographers and filmmakers to create short dance films in a compressed time frame. Bringing professional artists into a laboratory atmosphere challenges them to think collaboratively and explore possibilities for expression outside their fields, and hopefully inspires future creative relationships.

Education: Reducing Early Literacy Disparities

We imagine Oakland as a city of readers who love to learn and are connected to their families, schools and community.

Because children develop critical language and early literacy skills through relationships with people who love and care for them, our Education program is working toward making Oakland a literacy rich city through two key supports: professional development for Transitional Kindergarten (TK) and Preschool teachers, and activities to build warm relationships between young children and their families.

The Rainin Foundation assists families, physicians, and other caring adults to build language skills through daily and joyful activities with children, helping them to become confident learners before entering kindergarten. Our grants and collaborations with trusted partners like Reach Out and Read, Literacy Lab, Lotus Bloom, and others, will transform Oakland, giving all children the opportunities they need to be successful.

“Preparing every student for success in college, career, and community begins long before the first day of high school…Our charge is to transform a public education system that reinforces race and class-based fault lines into one that breaks down barriers to achievement and graduates all students with the skills required to be responsible and productive citizens.” — Superintendent Antwan Wilson, Oakland Unified School District (OUSD)

Supporting Educators: SEEDS of Early Literacy

In partnership with OUSD, Education for Change and Raising a Reader, the Rainin Foundation provides a SEEDS Professional Learning Community. We complement this initiative with Reading Corps classroom tutors, student data assessments, and coaching for TK and Preschool classrooms. More than 800 Oakland children are participating in the 2014–15 pilot year.

“Children learn that their education is important, and Transitional Kindergarten lays the groundwork. We instill in them that they have bright futures. They come in every day with a sense of confidence as learners.” — Linda Pitts, OUSD Transitional Kindergarten Teacher

August 2014 kickoff of SEEDS of Early Literacy, a Rainin Foundation partnership with Oakland’s Transitional Kindergarten and Preschool teachers.

Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing

The Talk, Read, Sing campaign has inspired over 6,000 families of infants and toddlers to talk, read and sing to babies to eliminate disparities in language development and promote loving interactions. Billboards, posters, and clothing with prompts to talk about feelings, letters, shapes and more are all over Oakland.

Based on enthusiastic feedback of our pilot last year, we are excited to launch a sustained campaign in spring 2015. Special thanks to Oaklandish, a local independent retailer, and Goodby, Silverstein and Partners, a San Francisco-based advertising agency, for developing wonderful campaign products and materials.

Talk, Read, Sing is a collaboration of the Bay Area Council, Too Small to Fail, First 5 Alameda County, the Rainin Foundation and others.

Leaders in Early Learning: Rainin Foundation at the White House

Our work is rooted in research showing how disparities in language development emerge very early in life and profoundly impact later opportunities. When the White House held two convenings in 2014, Bridging the Word Gap and the Early Learning Summit, the Rainin Foundation was invited to participate.

At the Bridging the Word Gap event, Oakland’s Talk, Read, Sing campaign was lauded for its innovative strategies in reaching families. President Barack Obama also recognized the Rainin Foundation at the Early Learning Summit for our significant funding of early childhood education initiatives in Oakland — $60 million over the next ten years.

Health: Collaboration and Transformative Research

The Rainin Foundation believes that partnerships and collaborations can have the greatest impact in research. Our Health program is at the forefront, funding cutting-edge research projects around the world that are potentially transformative to diagnosing, treating and curing Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

Breaking Down Silos: Innovations Symposium

We hosted our third annual Innovations Symposium: Taming the Microbiome, in San Francisco. The symposium brought together leading authorities from a variety of fields to promote scientific dialogue and foster interdisciplinary efforts.

Our event attracted post-doctoral fellows and renowned scientific researchers, and created a favorable environment for stimulating novel ideas and fostering discussions. Networking opportunities abounded in the symposium’s daily Poster Sessions and small group Breakthrough Sessions, newly introduced this year.

Photos from the 2014 Innovations Symposium: Poster discussion with keynote speaker, Dr. Rob Knight; Dr. Michael Fischbach delivering keynote address; Dr. Margaret McFall-Ngai, keynote speaker, moderating a Breakthrough Session with the Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board members.

Supporting Partnerships: Synergy Award

Our new Synergy Award was introduced at the Innovations Symposium. This award encourages investigators with differing areas of expertise to pool their talents and resources toward a research goal. We selected our 2014 winners from an extremely competitive and diverse pool of applicants.

Dr. Averil Ma, Rainin Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board Chair; with Dr. Skip Virgin, Rainin Foundation grantee; and Dr. Ian Lipkin, internationally acclaimed virus hunter and symposium keynote speaker.
“This grant allows us to pursue an ‘out-of-the-box’ hypothesis of how viruses might be related to Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.” — Dr. Skip Virgin, Synergy Award grantee

New Research

Through our conversations with scientists and others at the symposium, we learned about the serious challenges researchers often face turning their scientific discoveries into treatments and cures. We will pursue a new area of inquiry into this so-called “valley of death” in 2015.

Bold and Focused in 2015 and Beyond

Over the years, the Rainin Foundation has been fortunate to support a talented group of grantees. We are both honored and humbled by their efforts, commitment and vision.

We look forward to sharing their stories, discoveries and developments that arise as we continue to work together to explore solutions that bring about lasting change in the arts, education and health.

Kenneth Rainin was an indomitable entrepreneur who built his fortune founding scientific and medical products companies, and who later parlayed his wealth and management expertise to serve many charitable causes.

The Kenneth Rainin Foundation is a private family foundation dedicated to enhancing quality of life by championing and sustaining the arts, promoting early childhood literacy and supporting research to cure chronic disease. Collaboration and innovation are at the heart of all our programs. Our vision is guided by the belief that change is possible through inquiry, creativity and compassion.