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The Heising-Simons Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area

Our Work

The Heising-Simons Action Fund, established in 2020, is funded by the Heising-Simons family and is governed by a four-person Board. The organization is a separate legal entity from the Heising-Simons Foundation (a 501 (c)(3) private foundation) but focuses on many of the same issues, including the following areas:

Community and Opportunity

The Community and Opportunity program focuses on bolstering civic engagement and community advocacy in the city of San Jose, as well as grassroots mobilization at the federal and state level to strengthen democracy and equitable representation, for example, in support of  democracy and redistricting reform legislation.

2021 awards include:

  • North Fund for Fair Representation in Redistricting Action Fund — $200,000
  • Silicon Valley Rising Action for general support — $100,000
  • Way to Win Action Fund for general support — $500,000
  • MOVE Texas Action Fund for general support — $300,000
  • Living United for Change in Arizona for general support — $100,000
  • End Citizens United-Let America Vote Action Fund for general support — $100,000

Climate and Clean Energy

The Climate and Clean Energy program seeks to protect people from the worst impacts of climate change by supporting organizations that help advance policies to spur large-scale progress curbing pollution, and to ensure that a low-carbon future is a prosperous one for the most vulnerable communities.

2021 awards include:

  • Fund for a Better Future for Climate Power — $2,800,000
  • Partnership Project Action Fund for general support — $300,000
  • Advanced Energy Works for general support — $150,000
  • Solar United Neighbors Action for general support — $100,000
  • BlueGreen Alliance for general support — $100,000
  • Climate Jobs National Resource Center Action Fund, Inc. for general support — $150,000
  • Center for American Progress Action Fund for general support — $300,000
  • Working Families Organization, Inc. for general support — $200,000
  • League of Conservation Voters, Inc. for general support — $250,000
  • NRDC Action Fund Inc. for general support — $300,000
  • Energy Action Fund Inc. for general support — $250,000
  • Sunrise Movement for general support — $250,000
  • NRDC Action Fund Inc. for general support — $300,000
  • Cabinet Action for general support — $35,000
  • Environmental Defense Action Fund for general support — $400,000
  • WE ACT 4 Change Inc. for general support — $150,000
  • Bipartisan Policy Center Action for general support — $300,000

Education

The Education program focuses on substantially increasing public financing of the early childhood education field at the federal, state, and local levels, with a special emphasis on California.

2021 awards include:

  • Tides Advocacy for the Building the California Dream Alliance — $100,000
  • Save the Children Action Network for general support — $400,000
  • Moms Rising Together for general support — $400,000
  • Parent Voices Action for General Support — $100,000
  • Children Now Action Fund for the California Pro-Kid Scorecard — $200,000
  • Communities For A New California for general support — $100,000
  • Yes on Santa Cruz Children’s Fund Committee for general support — $25,000
  • Care in Action Inc. for general support — $400,000
  • Impact Fellows Action Fund for general support — $300,000
  • First Five Action Fund for general support — $500,000
  • Children’s Funding Accelerator Inc. for general support — $375,000
  • National Women’s Law Center Action Fund for general support — $200,000
  • Center for Community Change Action for general support — $500,000
  • PLUS Action Fund for general support — $150,000
  • Million Voter Action Fund Sponsored By Social Justice Orgs for general support — $200,000
  • Economic Security Action for general support — $100,000

Human Rights

The Human Rights program focuses on building the long-term power of communities of color most impacted by mass criminalization, in both the criminal legal and the immigration systems, so that they have increased collective power to change the structures that impact their lives.

2021 awards include:

  • Tides Advocacy for Sister Warriors Action Fund for assistance with Legal, accounting, and compliance needs — $20,000
  • Tides Advocacy for Smart Justice California — $50,000
  • Tides Advocacy for La Defensa — $100,000
  • Tides Advocacy for the Sister Warriors Action Fund — $100,000
  • Tides Advocacy for Chispa for assistance with legal, accounting, and compliance needs — $20,000
  • Tides Advocacy for La Defensa for assistance with legal, accounting, and compliance needs — $20,000
  • Working Families Organization Inc. for United Fort Worth — $200,000
  • Working Families Organization Inc. for United Fort Worth for assistance with legal, accounting, and compliance needs — $20,000
  • Texas Organizing Project for general support — $100,000
  • Working Families Organization Inc. for work in California, Texas, Georgia, and North Carolina  $1,200,000
  • New Georgia Project Action Fund Inc. for general support — $200,000
  • NEO Philanthropy Action Fund for the Four Freedoms Action Fund — $200,000
  • New Left Accelerator for capacity building supports and technical assistance to Heising-Simons Action Fund grantees — $400,000
  • Forward Justice Action Network for general support — $100,000
  • Workers Defense Action Fund for general support — $100,000
  • Carolina Federation for assistance with legal, accounting and compliance needs — $20,000
  • Mijente for assistance with legal, accounting and compliance needs — $20,000
  • Poder NC Action for assistance with legal, accounting and compliance needs — $20,000
  • Asian American Advocacy Fund for assistance with legal, accounting and compliance needs — $20,000
  • Poder NC Action for general support — $100,000
  • Carolina Federation for general support — $100,000
  • GLAHR Action Network for assistance with legal, accounting and compliance needs — $20,000
  • Siembra NC for assistance with legal, accounting and compliance needs — $20,000
  • ColorOfChange.org for general support — $250,000
  • Asian American Advocacy Fund, Inc. for general support — $100,000
  • Mijente for general support — $200,000
  • GLAHR Action Network for general support — $50,000
  • Repeal California’s Three Strikes Law Ballot Committee for general support — $250,000
  • NILC Immigrant Justice Fund for federal immigration work — $200,000

The Heising-Simons Action Fund is committed to transparency. We will continue to share descriptions of our work as the Action Fund evolves, and we plan to post a list of the Fund’s grants and contributions on a regular basis. You can find past awards made by the Action Fund  here. You can find the Action Fund’s 990 Form for the year 2020  here.

The Heising-Simons Action Fund does not accept unsolicited proposals in any of its areas of work. If you have been invited to submit a letter of inquiry or a proposal to the Action Fund, please contact your program officer for additional instructions.

Board

Liz Simons

Liz Simons serves as a board member of the Heising-Simons Action Fund. A former teacher, Liz worked in Spanish-bilingual and English as a Second Language (ESL) classrooms, and subsequently founded Stretch to Kindergarten, a spring-summer early childhood education program. She currently serves on the advisory council for Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education, and on the advisory board of the Stanford Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society, as well as on several boards including the Heising-Simons Foundation, The Marshall Project, The Foundation for a Just Society, Math for America, Smart Justice California and the Learning Policy Institute. She volunteers at The Beat Within (a magazine by and for incarcerated youth) and as a storyteller in a transitional kindergarten class. Liz earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s in education from Stanford University.

Mark Heising

Mark Heising serves as a board member of the Heising-Simons Action Fund. In 2004, he founded Medley Partners, a private market investment firm. Previously he was the Founder of VLSI Cores, which designed and licensed cryptographic integrated circuits. He holds six U.S. Patents in cryptography, compression and data communications. Mark serves on the board of directors for the Heising-Simons Foundation and Sion Power, and as a trustee or board member for the nonprofits Environmental Defense Fund, the Institute for Advanced Study. Mark and his wife, Liz Simons, took the Giving Pledge in 2016, publicly committing the majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes. Mark earned a BS in Physics and a MS in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences from the University of California at Berkeley.

Caitlin Heising

Caitlin Heising serves as a board member of the Heising‐Simons Action Fund. She received a Master of Public Administration at the London School of Economics (LSE) with a focus on social impact, graduating with distinction in 2020. Previously, she worked with Article 3 Advisors, a human rights and strategic philanthropy consultancy based in San Francisco. In 2014, she joined the board of the Heising‐Simons Foundation, where she has developed a grantmaking program focused on human rights and criminal justice reform in the U.S. She currently serves as vice chair of the Heising-Simons Foundation.

Caitlin serves on the Board of Directors of Human Rights Watch and is the vice chair of HRW’s U.S. Program Advisory Committee. She sits on the Advisory Council of the Responsible Business Initiative for Justice based in London. She is also a founding member of Maverick Collective, a global community of strategic philanthropists and advocates working to end extreme poverty by improving the health and rights of women and girls around the world. She was a 2016 Research Fellow at Institute for the Future, where she collaborated on research projects exploring the future of philanthropy and social innovation. Caitlin holds a BA in international relations from Brown University.

Deanna Gomby

Deanna Gomby serves as president and chief executive officer and as a board member of the Heising-Simons Action Fund. She is also the president and chief executive officer of the Heising-Simons Foundation. She has more than 35 years of experience in philanthropy and issues related to young children. Immediately prior to joining the Foundation, Deanna was an independent consultant to foundations, nonprofits, and government agencies, helping to design and evaluate programs for children. She has a Ph.D. in psychology and a master’s in health services research, both from Stanford University.