BY ELI BROAD AND EDYTHE BROAD
The public has always been a focus of our philanthropic initiatives: improving public schools, advancing scientific and medical research that benefits human health and increasing access to the arts for the broadest possible audience.
We both grew up in Detroit and attended great public schools. It was in those early school years that we were exposed to—and inspired by—art on field trips to the Detroit Institute of the Arts. And when family members faced medical crises, we found many of the most promising advances were pursued by scientists and researchers at public universities. In the world of business, we created public companies that were focused on providing affordable homes to young families and secure retirements to aging Americans. So when we had the opportunity to turn our efforts to the world of philanthropy, our focus on entrepreneurship for the public good in education, science and the arts was the culmination of our collective experiences—and our best efforts at giving back to the country that has been so good to us. We are pleased to have been one of the initial signatories of the Giving Pledge, committing to give 75 percent of our net worth away during or after our lifetimes. To date, we have invested more than $4 billion in education, science and the arts.
As we reflect on the past two years and look ahead to the future, we are again awestruck by the talented professionals whose work we are privileged to support. In public education, we are deeply indebted to the numerous state superintendents, district leaders and public charter school managers who work tirelessly each day to ensure every student receives a great education and to support the dedicated teachers passionate about helping their students master academics. In science, we are energized by the researchers who are relentless in the pursuit of solving the mysteries of disease and discovering the medical path to a healthy life. And in the arts, we are inspired by the artists whose work challenges, provokes and stimulates creative thought.
Our sense of urgency in public education stems from a recognition that our country’s economic health, the strength of our democracy, our national security and certainly our ability to give every student a shot at the American dream depends on the strength of our public schools. Sadly, we haven’t made anywhere near enough progress since the 1983 release of “A Nation at Risk,” the landmark report that sounded a wakeup call for America’s public schools as other countries accelerated the education of their students.
In the 16 years since we began working to improve public schools, the definition of a school system has evolved. Where there once were traditional public school districts, private and parochial schools, today there are also public charter school networks, state-run districts most often comprised of historically low-performing schools and portfolio systems that give parents high-quality public school options for their children. Our interest has always been in protecting and improving public schools—however they are defined. That’s why we have invested more than $650 million since 1999 to improve America’s public schools.
We have invested more than $144 million in developing and scaling high-quality public charter management organizations that run systems of schools. The demand for public charter schools is greater than the current supply. Nationally, 1 million families are on waiting lists to attend charter schools. In our hometown of Los Angeles, we are supporting an ambitious project over the next eight years to bring high-quality public schools to all students.
The Broad Center continues to be our largest and longest-running grant and reflects our belief that leadership is the crucial element to successful public schools. In recent years, the Center has expanded its work to encompass the changing definition of these school systems. In addition to supporting traditional urban school district superintendents, The Broad Center’s two programs—The Broad Academy and The Broad Residency in Urban Education—boost the efforts of leaders and top managers in public charter systems, state departments of education and recovery and achievement school districts. These leaders are dedicated to the belief that great teachers must be supported, that dollars must be focused on the classroom where they have the greatest impact on teaching and learning, and that every child deserves the opportunity to achieve his or her full potential.
With the changing landscape of public schools today—and sluggish academic gains across the board—we decided to pause The Broad Prize for Urban Education while we evaluate how best to incentivize public school systems to improve dramatically. We are, however, continuing to award the $250,000 Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools, due to the impressive academic gains produced by public charter school systems. And we hope that the Common Core State Standards will raise the bar for higher academic success nationwide.
Public schools played such a vital role in our lives, and we have a deep commitment to give the same solid foundation to the millions of students who today attend public schools. As you’ll read in these pages, education is the great equalizer, giving all children—regardless of their family income or background—the opportunity to soar.
SCIENTIFIC | MEDICAL RESEARCH
To date, we have invested more than $800 million in scientific and medical research. It is the area of our philanthropy that gives us the most hope and the greatest joy for the simple reason that not a single researcher is satisfied with the current state of health and medicine. The scientists we support are pure in their drive to unlock the mysteries of disease. They live and breathe their research, testing out hypotheses, adjusting their theories as they tackle individual diseases, cell by cell, genome by genome.
The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard is at the forefront of genomic medicine. Under the leadership of Eric Lander, the institute continues to grow in the scope of its research and expand its bright cadre of scientists and researchers from all disciplines who work collaboratively and share their discoveries freely. The Broad Institute’s groundbreaking work to decode the Ebola genome led to major advances in how quickly and accurately doctors in Sierra Leone were able to diagnose and then treat the deadly disease. Not a day goes by that we are not impressed by a scientific paper or study published in a medical journal detailing the work underway at the Broad Institute.
The three stem cell centers we support in California—at UCLA, UC San Francisco and USC—are forging ahead with their own life-changing discoveries. Thanks to the work of researchers at these stem cell centers, babies born with fatally compromised immune systems have been cured, patients suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease have hope for new drug therapies and promising research could reverse the ravages of aging. While these advances may not prolong our lives or ease our aches, we truly believe that this research will improve the health of future generations, giving millions of people longer, more productive lives.
After collecting art for more than 50 years and assembling a public art collection through The Broad Art Foundation, we could not be more delighted to open The Broad as a permanent home for our art on Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles. With a visionary design by renowned architect Elizabeth Diller of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the innovative “veil-and-vault” concept has exceeded our expectations, providing beautiful galleries and integral storage that has enabled us to consolidate the works in our collection in one home while continuing our longstanding practice of lending art to museums around the world.
With the goal of making contemporary art accessible to the broadest possible public, we decided to offer free general admission, because we want to see families, visitors of all ages and from all walks of life, tourists from around the country and across the globe come to The Broad to experience contemporary art. Over the years, we were drawn to contemporary art because we were fascinated by the conversations with the artists, who had much different perspectives than business people, bankers, lawyers and accountants. As we researched and studied art, we learned that the best collections were assembled during the artist’s lifetime. And because art of our time reflects many thought-provoking social, political, cultural and racial issues, we knew that contemporary art was what we wanted to collect and share with the public.
Since The Broad opened on Sept. 20, 2015, we have been overwhelmed by the public response to and interest in contemporary art. We feel like our art has found a permanent and public home, and it is a privilege to be able to share our collection and the joy we have experienced through art.
As we look to the future, we want to ensure that our philanthropic work continues. We have confidence in the leaders we have enlisted to oversee these initiatives, and we appreciate the distinguished board members who advise and direct our foundations, our scientific work, The Broad Center and our new museum.
In this report, we are pleased to share the faces and voices of our grantees. No one can tell the story of the important work they do every day better than they can. We are immensely proud of their work and their passion, and we are humbled to play a small role in supporting their work.
Eli and Edythe Broad are co-founders of The Broad Foundations.