Turning Points: 2015

The Kenneth Rainin Foundation is proud to share our progress through our investments and valuable partnerships in the Arts, Education and Health.

SILT, a dance of relationships and the silt of our shared racial, social and economic histories, which when seeded, creates new life and exposes our known and unknown influence in the lives of others. Performed by Robert Moses’ Kin, Kenneth Rainin Foundation grantee. Photo credit: RJ Muna.

Hear Jen Rainin, our CEO, share her thoughts on the year and the Foundation’s work.

Arts: Advancing Creative Collaborations

“Block by Block,” one of Light Up Central Market’s six site-specific installations in San Francisco. Photo credit: Stephanie Secrest.

San Francisco’s Central Market neighborhood is home to performing arts organizations and a growing number of technology firms. Amid the red-hot real estate boom, there are tensions around space. We wondered how the arts could bring seemingly disparate communities together while contributing to the neighborhood’s vibrancy, so we launched a grant opportunity for an interactive art installation.

Meet the people who made Light Up Central Market shine. Video credit: Lindsay Gauthier.

The Luggage Store Gallery, a long-time Market Street tenant, received our first public art grant for Light Up Central Market. This collaborative project reflects the neighborhood’s dynamic personality and social realities. By creating a gathering place and illuminating a collection of murals in the area, Light Up Central Market invites people to interact. The project is sparking connections and inspiring challenging conversations, illustrating both the beauty and provocative nature of public art.

Films are persuasive platforms for storytelling that wield an unparalleled cultural power. Yet women are seriously underrepresented in filmmaking, which means most films are told from a male perspective. The San Francisco Film Society, with support from the Rainin Foundation, launched their Women Filmmaker Fellowships to address these inequities and help female directors and writers realize their creative visions. Three fellows were named in 2015 and are receiving financial support and other services. The program will expand over time to support a total of seven women per year.

“ The fellowships are about supporting our most important emerging female filmmakers in telling the stories that they want to tell, on their terms…” — Michele Turnure-Salleo, Filmmaker 360 Director, San Francisco Film Society

In the Bay Area, the reality of displacement is a challenge to retaining our artistic communities. Nonprofits are among the first to feel the pressures of a thriving real estate market. In search of a long-term solution, the Rainin Foundation seeded the Community Arts Stabilization Trust (CAST) three years ago to purchase and lease space for the exclusive use of arts nonprofits. For its initial projects, CAST partnered with two vital community arts organizations and bought buildings in San Francisco that these nonprofits will lease with the intent to purchase.

In 2015, we were thrilled to see the culmination of these pilot projects. We celebrated the grand re-opening of the renovated Luggage Store Gallery, and the nearly complete transformation of a former adult theater into a new home for CounterPulse. Momentum continues to build for CAST, as it attracts additional public and private partners, while gaining national recognition for its innovative financial model and promising role in securing permanent, affordable space for the arts.

Laurie Lazer and Darryl Smith, Luggage Store Gallery co-founders and co-directors. Photo credit: Cy Musiker, KQED Arts. CounterPulse’s Julie Phelps toasts the start of construction on its new home. Photo credits: Kegan Marling. Both organizations were pilot projects for the Community Arts Stabilization Trust (CAST).

“It was beyond our wildest dreams that we would purchase a building, do a $3 million renovation on it, and have our dream home at the end…”
— Julie Phelps, Artistic Director, CounterPulse

Education: Unlocking Potential in Every Oakland Child

Parents and caregivers can boost their child’s learning potential by making reading a routine part of their lives. Photo credit: Filmsight Productions.

The Rainin Foundation is grateful to have a talented team — parents, teachers, individual schools, the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), charter schools, the City of Oakland, and many community based organizations — working closely with us. In 2015, we saw exciting examples of how our collaborations are helping young children become confident, joyful learners.

See Oakland families parent in loving, language-rich ways to get their children kindergarten ready and prepared to succeed in life. Video credit: Filmlight Productions.

Children in under-resourced communities typically lose six months of academic growth in the summer, quickly adding up to big achievement gaps. In 2015, we co-funded four charter and OUSD schools to pilot Springboard Collaborative’s intensive summer program. The idea to have families teach reading at home is simple, yet the results are compelling.

Families participate in Spring Collaborative’s summer workshops. Photo credit: Springboard Collaborative.

In just five weeks, children in Springboard Collaborative’s program showed 3.5 months of reading gains. We also saw that in our SEEDS transitional kindergarten classrooms, 30% more children were on target to be successful readers compared to students with teachers who did not participate in SEEDS of Early Learning professional development. We are thrilled by these early results and how new approaches are showing us different paths to success.

“…teachers cannot do it alone. Parents are essential. We…set goals together so that both school and home are giving the child what she needs.” — Linda Pitts, OUSD Teacher and SEEDS participant, Garfield Elementary School

The Foundation is committed to supporting our partners in making informed decisions. To this end, we funded a powerful interactive tool that dramatically changes how leaders use data to accelerate student learning. It lays the groundwork for adding early childhood education indicators in the future and increases transparency by providing public access to interactive district data.

“The data are already being used to help teachers make better lesson plans, identify new supports for our students, and have powerful conversations with parents and caregivers.” — Jean Wing, Director of Research, Assessment and Data, Oakland Unified School District

From the time that babies are born, their brains are forming connections that support learning and growth. Parents play a critical role in helping their child’s brain develop by simply talking, reading and singing. Photo credits: Filmlight Productions.

As we reflect on the progress achieved in 2015, we are affirmed in our belief that a child’s learning potential is unlocked through positive adult-child relationships and building the professional capacity of teachers to implement best in field teaching. We know that children become readers by securing social and emotional, early math, and language and literacy skills in joyful activities and meaningful relationships. We are inspired by our exceptional partners who are working together to shape the daily experiences and future opportunities of Oakland’s children.

“..it is very easy to integrate this literacy work into play, social-emotional development, relationships, creative expression, and other fun preschool activities. It’s not an either-or proposition. This is really something we need to invest in.” — Dr. Marc Hernandez, Senior Research Scientist, NORC at the University of Chicago

Health: Funding New Ideas in Research

In 2015 our health grants included, for the first time, support for projects that investigate the impact of diet and nutrition on people who suffer from Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). National coverage about these grants elicited several heartfelt emails from parents, like this one:

“My child was 10 when he was diagnosed with Crohn’s, which is a horrible disease…and dropped out of all sports and activities. He was prescribed chemotherapy and immunosuppressant drugs. We did not want to go that route…and were blessed to find…a specific carbohydrate diet and have followed [it] for a year. My son is now leading a normal life…We are so thankful for this diet and any research that can show it is effective because that will help more doctors…help more children without scary drugs.”

This personal story is a reminder that our investments are deeply connected to children, adults and families whose lives could be improved by our grantees’ research. It also reinforces our desire to explore new and promising areas of research.

Photos from our 2015 Innovations Symposium: Wound Healing, Repair and IBD. Photo credits: Doorstep Photography.

The complexity of IBD is not restricted to any one particular field of biology or medicine. We see value in designing opportunities to expand our knowledge and encourage original ideas. In 2015, our annual Innovations Symposium focused on Wound Healing, Repair and IBD and brought more than 125 people to San Francisco to hear experts and Rainin Foundation grantees share their latest research. By encouraging connections among scientists from diverse fields through this event, and offering grants to support collaborations, our investments are contributing to new research directions.

Hear influential and up-and-coming researchers from around the globe talk about the importance of originality and collaboration at the Kenneth Rainin Foundation’s Innovations Symposium. Video credit: Megan Jones and Jane Goldman.

More support is needed in the field to take promising findings from basic scientific research and move them towards clinical interventions.

We gathered our Scientific Advisory Board, grantees, and other experts to better understand the roadblocks in advancing successful research findings. With help from our partners at FasterCures, we are exploring specific areas that could benefit from our involvement to translate and accelerate scientific discoveries into new therapeutics for people with IBD. We will build on these efforts in the year ahead.

Our willingness to explore cutting-edge ideas and invest in high risk projects sets us apart from traditional funders. We give scientists the freedom to push boundaries to advance IBD research and our Innovator and Breakthrough Awards offer a rare opportunity for testing and proving novel concepts.

Dr. Gwendalyn Randolph, a long-time researcher of lymphatics and cellular transport, and more recently IBD, credits our early-stage grantmaking with helping her reach a critical milestone — receiving the 2015 National Institutes of Health’s prestigious Pioneer Award. We are delighted by the continued progress Dr. Randolph and all of our grantees are making to expand our collective understanding of IBD.

Dr. Gwendalyn Randolph

“It’s so out-of-the-box that the Rainin Foundation would consider our first application because I had done nothing to prove I wouldn’t fail…” Dr. Gwendalyn Randolph, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri


The Rainin Foundation had many proud moments in 2015. We were honored to receive the Outstanding Foundation award and thrilled by the overwhelmingly positive scores from our first Grantee Perception Survey. As a young foundation, we are encouraged to know that we are effectively serving our grantees and partners. We are grateful to work with talented individuals and organizations every day, and look forward to the year ahead in hopes of sharing more accomplishments, discoveries and turning points in the Arts, Education and Health.

Hear directly from our staff about their memorable moments in 2015.

Visit us at krfoundation.org to learn more about our programs and funding opportunities.

Kenneth Rainin Foundation

Supporting bold & innovative projects in Arts, Education & Health

Kenneth Rainin Foundation

Written by

The Foundation enhances quality of life by championing the arts, promoting early childhood literacy and supporting research to cure chronic disease.

Kenneth Rainin Foundation

Supporting bold & innovative projects in Arts, Education & Health

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade