BERI is planning to hand off our involvement in grant-making to 501(c)(3) organizations from the donations of philanthropist Jaan Tallinn. The hand-off will be to one or more other teams and/or processes that are separate from BERI. Andrew Critch, who has been instrumental in making grants funded by Jaan’s donations, will oversee this hand-off process, and will likely continue to act as an independent advisor to Jaan’s grant-making in the future. It is BERI’s understanding that Jaan will continue to sponsor grant-making in the area of existential risk reduction through other grant-making entities going forward.
Update (2019-09-07): As part of this hand-off, BERI is granting $2MM from its organizational grants program to the Survival and Flourishing Fund (SFF), a new Donor Advised Fund at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, advised by a committee comprising Alex Flint, Andrew Critch, and Eric Rogstad. While SFF’s advisory committee and BERI’s Board of Directors currently comprise the same set of individuals, SFF will be free to make grants and reorganize itself in the future without further control from BERI as an institution.
This post does not pertain to individual grants from BERI, which Jaan has also sponsored with donations in the past. BERI will continue to administer collaboration-specific individual grants, and has not made a final decision as to when or whether we will seek funding from Jaan for individual grants competitions in the future, as we did in Fall 2018.
Rebecca Raible, the staff member at BERI who had most focused on grant-making (in her part-time role), left BERI in June after giving notice in March. This timing is coincidental, but we do not intend to hire to replace her.
We feel that alternative methods exist by which Jaan may be more easily able to accomplish his goals for funding future grants to organizations, and we expect those options to produce grants that are more aligned with the full range of philanthropic priorities that Jaan would like to support. Jaan and BERI and are in agreement about this, and in general BERI does not want to selfishly hold on to activities that may be a better fit for another organization or structure.
Impact on existing grantees
For individuals and organizations who have already received grants, or commitments to such grants, from BERI, there will be no impact. BERI will complete the administration of their grant, for the period of time that the grant was for. BERI will either follow through with any pledges it has already made, or with the grantee’s agreement, it will otherwise honor those pledges in a way that both parties prefer (such as by granting money earlier, or by granting to another organization willing to uphold the pledge).
Impact on prospective grantees
For prospective grantees, BERI will:
- notify the individual or organization that BERI is not actively considering new grants outside of its university collaborations,
- add them to our notification list should this change in the future, and
- either point the applicant to one or more other sources of funding that the applicant might wish to consider, or ask the applicant for permission to hand off their information, and their request for funding, to one or more external funders.
BERI is excited to continue its focus on collaborative support for aligned x-risk researchers at universities, as well as our other current and future initiatives. We encourage others in the x-risk ecosystem to reach out when they feel that BERI would be a good fit for a particular project, and we’re hiring for a couple of positions. In general, we believe BERI’s mission and structure continues to allow us to be flexible, such that we hope to be able to take on a wide variety of different types of activities in the future, provided that they make sense for BERI to do.