SFE: About Us

We’re Siegel Family Endowment, a New York City-based family foundation in the early stages of our organizational life. As we continue to grow and expand the scope of our work, we want to share some information about ourselves with you.

Let’s start by answering a few questions.

What is SFE?

We’re a foundation focused on understanding and shaping learning in our technology-driven world. SFE supports people who do work at the intersection of technology, education, and career-readiness, and we champion organizations whose work contributes to making a world that’s prepared for rapid digital transformation. We were founded in 2011 by David Siegel, a co-founder of technology-driven algorithmic investment manager Two Sigma.

What should I know about SFE?

We know that the world is changing rapidly thanks to broad-scale technological advancement, and we want to make sure that people are well prepared to navigate these changes. But with the global economy and the technology that supports it changing so quickly, it can be hard to understand where things are going and how the workforce will transform in the coming years (or even months).

Our vision is of a world where everyone has the skills to navigate and contribute to a healthy economy. We want to build a roadmap that makes this problem a little less daunting — and we’re doing that by making grants and supporting work in three fields (see below) that we think have the power to directly address this dynamic as it unfolds both here in the United States and around the world.

As an organization, what kinds of work is SFE interested in supporting?

Our three interest areas are central to our approach, and are the fields where we think we can have the greatest impact towards achieving our long term goals. We talk about our work in each of our interest areas across three dimensions:

  • Define: How we define what this area means to SFE
  • Think: Where there is room for innovation and improvement
  • Do: What we’re doing to help organizations make an impact

Our interest areas are:

Computational Thinking

  • Define: Solving problems, designing systems, and understanding human behavior, using the concepts fundamental to computer science.
  • Think: There are too few opportunities for people to engage in computational thinking in an exploratory way, especially at early ages, even though it’s an essential set of skills.
  • Do: Develop and support organizations that use computational thinking to foster creative thought and expression in school-aged learners.

Career Readiness

  • Define: The ability to navigate pathways from education to work to achieve a fulfilling, successful career.
  • Think: There’s a disconnect between education and industry, and students; parents and teachers need resources to connect learning and application in a technology-driven world.
  • Do: Invest in programs that prepare and support young people as they explore career and educational pathways.

Open Learning

  • Define: A movement to foster learning through open access, participation, and wide-scale collaboration.
  • Think: Siloed systems within education stifle innovation and create barriers to engagement and collaboration throughout the learning community.
  • Do: Fund research, models, and organizations that work transparently and maximize impact by openly and widely sharing their work and expertise.

What’s our team like?

We have a unique approach to staffing. While none of us has worked at a foundation before, we have a variety of skills and experience and a shared belief that the best approach is often an unconventional one. Our varied backgrounds give us the ability to develop new ways of doing things, and to call on an uncommonly wide set of expertise. Among us, we have experience working in government, at large tech companies, at non-profits, and as educators.

We’re bound together by our interest in doing philanthropic work in a new way, an eagerness to try out new ideas, and a desire to better serve our grantees by building strong relationships. We‘re striving to build something together that can help inform change in other philanthropies and foundations, and we’re thinking a lot about how we define this approach. Stay tuned for more on this topic!

What’s next?

Now that we’ve built our team, we are ready to start bringing our work to the world. We want to make sure we’re doing our best to support the work of our grantees by elevating their work, and sharing our process with as many interested parties as we can.

Watch this space for more updates on our organizational development, to learn more about what we’re learning, to find out more about our partners and grantees, and what we’re doing to support a world that’s better equipped to handle the ongoing digital transformation.