Giving Compass' Take:
- RPA Deputy Principal Joanne Schneider spoke with Karen Leshner, founder of the Intrepid Philanthropy Foundation, about supporting effective and equitable education systems.
- What are the biggest challenges in education equity, and what role can donors play in addressing these issues?
- Learn more about education here.
What is Giving Compass?
We connect donors to learning resources and ways to support community-led solutions. Learn more about us.
As part of living our mission and values, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors is featuring in-depth profiles of our clients to highlight their work in creating a just world. RPA Deputy Principal Joanne Schneider spoke with Karen Leshner, founder of the Intrepid Philanthropy Foundation, and Taica Hsu, former grantee of the Intrepid Philanthropy Foundation and current member of the foundation’s Advisory Board. The Intrepid Philanthropy Foundation is a private family foundation that aims to support a thriving, effective, equitable, and respected education system in California and beyond, where all students have the opportunity to learn and succeed. The conversation between Joanne, Karen, and Taica focused on the LIGHT Awards, a foundation program that directly supports groups of teachers; they discussed the history of their grantmaking and how philanthropy can model better support for teachers and students. This interview reflects edits for length and clarity.
Welcome, Karen Leshner and Taica Hsu. We’re excited to talk about the great work of the Intrepid Philanthropy Foundation and the LIGHT Awards. Before we get started, please take a moment to introduce yourself and your connection to the Foundation and the LIGHT Awards.
Thanks so much, Joanne. I’m Karen Leshner, the Founder and President of Intrepid Philanthropy Foundation. The LIGHT Awards are the flagship project of our Foundation.
I am Taica Hsu, a teacher on special assignment in the San Francisco Unified School District. I was on a team that was awarded a LIGHT Award in 2016 and am now on the Advisory Board of the Intrepid Philanthropy Foundation.
Karen, can you tell us about the driving force behind creating the Intrepid Philanthropy Foundation and the focus area of the Foundation?
I launched Intrepid in 2008. Before that, I had a couple of different careers, working as an engineer and then in finance. When I founded the Foundation in 2008, my goal was to focus most of our grantmaking on one area: education. More specifically, I wanted to center our work on the teaching career. Teachers have always been my heroes. My first teacher was my grandmother, who started a nursery school that she ran for 30 years in suburban Cleveland, Ohio.
I vividly remember being three-years-old, going with my Nana to nursery school, and feeling that it was a magical place. I have three adult daughters who had amazing public school experiences, mainly in California, and I noticed the impact that the career teachers had on my daughters. When I started Intrepid, the focus on teachers was born out of my feeling that teachers are excellent, undervalued folks in the American workforce and my desire to become knowledgeable on a single issue area. We are trying to inspire great people to go into teaching and stay in the profession.
Read the full article about education philanthropy at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.