Our History - Kenneth Rainin Foundation

Our History

The Kenneth Rainin Foundation's visual timeline shares leading achievements in the Arts, Education and Health.

Since our formal grantmaking began in 2009, Kenneth Rainin’s values have inspired us to pursue innovative solutions and make big bets to elevate artists, improve literacy and focus on patient outcomes.


  • Entrepreneurial Roots

    Kenneth Rainin pictured at his desk filled with papers as he makes a phone call.
    Kenneth Rainin

    At the age of 25, Kenneth Rainin founds the Rainin Instrument Company to distribute laboratory instruments and supplies. He secures the rights to sell a line of pipettes, a tool used to precisely measure and dispense liquid, and grows the Pipetman into the dominant brand of pipettes used in laboratories.


  • Foundation Forms

    Kenneth Rainin dies at the age of 68, and the Kenneth Rainin Foundation forms to support his philanthropic interests in the Arts, Education and Health. Kenneth Rainin’s daughter, Jennifer Rainin, becomes CEO and creates the first Board of Directors.

    Jen Rainin pictured smiling on a bright yellow couch.
    Jennifer Rainin, CEO


  • Formal Grantmaking Begins

    Left: Dance Brigade’s “The Great Liberation Upon Hearing.” Photo credit: Anastacia Powers. Right: Tandem, Partners in Early Learning (formerly Raising a Reader) helps parents engage in book sharing. Photo credit: Tandem, Partners in Early Learning

    The Foundation’s Arts Program funds new and experimental projects by dance, theater and multidisciplinary arts organizations. A new partnership and grantmaking program with SFFILM supports narrative feature films that address social justice issues. The first Education grants promote early childhood literacy in Oakland. The Foundation creates a Scientific Advisory Board to provide insights and expertise that guide the Health Program.


  • Pursuing Innovation

    One male and one female scientist shown in the lab holding up test tubes during an experiment.

    The Foundation announces its first Innovator Awards, which fund novel, untested ideas with the potential to advance Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) research.


  • Grantmaking Exceeds $4.5 Million

    The Foundation awards more than $4.5 million in grants in the Arts, Education and Health in its first three years of formal grantmaking.

    A colorful stage in shades of yellow, pink and purple. A woman beats a very large drum in the foreground as a man dances in the background.
    New & Experimental Works Program grantee inkBoat’s “Line Between.” Photo credit: Pak Han


  • Inspiring Collaboration

    The Chicago river shown flowing in between high rise buildings on either side of it.
    Buildings along the Chicago River.

    The Foundation launches its first Innovations Symposium, “New Insights In Human Evolution,” in Chicago. The Symposium brings together preeminent investigators working within and outside of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) research to foster breakthroughs.


  • Supporting Inspiring Films

    It’s a big year for SFFILM Rainin grantees. Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild receives four Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station wins two awards at the Sundance Film Festival and the Un Certain Regard Avenir Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

    “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” Photo courtesy: Fox Searchlight
  • Making A Big Bet

    CounterPulse Building, 80 Turk Street, San Francisco. Photo credit: Keegan Marling

    The real estate boom is pushing arts and cultural organizations out of San Francisco. The Foundation partners with the Northern California Community Loan Fund (now Community Vision) on a solution to help secure affordable space. The outcome is the Community Arts Stabilization Trust (CAST), the first of its kind real estate holding company for the cultural sector. The Foundation seeds CAST with a five-year, $5 million grant. CAST purchases buildings for the Luggage Store Gallery and CounterPulse, which are at risk of displacement.


  • Improving Literacy

    By talking, reading and singing, adults help children become kindergarten ready. Video credit: Filmsight Productions

    The Foundation’s Education staff is invited to the White House to discuss Oakland’s successful Talk, Read, Sing campaign. The Foundation leads the funding and implementation of SEEDS of Learning in Oakland.


  • Experimenting In Public Art

     Explore “Light Up Central Market” and the people who made it shine. Video Credit: Lindsay Gauthier

    The Foundation’s first public art grant supports the Luggage Store Gallery’s “Light Up Central Market,” an experimental project on one of San Francisco’s busiest streets.

  • Championing Pioneers

    Dr. Gwendalyn Randolph, professor in the Department of Pathology and Immunology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Video credit: Lori Halloran

    Foundation grantee Dr. Gwendalyn Randolph receives the prestigious National Institutes of Health Director’s Pioneer Award for her Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) research. She credits the Rainin Foundation’s early-stage grantmaking with helping her achieve this milestone.


  • Engaging Communities

    “To The STREETS!” by the People’s Kitchen Collective received an inaugural Open Spaces Program grantVideo credit: Jamie DeWolf

    The Open Spaces Program launches with a symposium and grantmaking to support artists in creating temporary place-based art projects in San Francisco and Oakland that engage communities and energize public spaces.

  • Unlocking Potential

    SEEDS of Learning tutors help Oakland children flourish. Video credit: Lori Halloran

    The Foundation invests $9 million over four years in 15 Oakland elementary schools to implement Structured Literacy frameworks, including SEEDS of Learning.


  • Prioritizing Patient Outcomes

    Dr. David Suskind’s research holds promise for children with Crohn’s Disease. Photo courtesy of Seattle Children’s Hospital

    The Foundation’s Health strategy shifts to dramatically improve the prediction and prevention of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). A new website features this new vision and highlights research by grantee scientists.

  • Gaining Momentum

    Chart that shows the percentage of children in our 2015-16 SEEDS classrooms who progressed to be near, at, or above targets for key skills that are predictive of school readiness. Vocabulary progressed from 48% to 96% with SEEDS. Letter Naming progressed from 84% to 99%. Rhyming progressed from 37% to 91%. Alliteration progressed from 41% to 93%. Letter Sounds progressed from 73% to 94%.

    The SEEDS of Learning (now FluentSeeds) program celebrates strong, multi-year gains in student learning.

  • Shifting Landscape

    The Foundation awards a three-year, $3 million grant to Community Arts Stabilization Trust (CAST) to continue work in San Francisco and expand into Oakland to secure permanently affordable arts spaces. The Foundation shares the Rainin Arts Real Estate Strategy to help other cities replicate this model.

    San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge.


  • Collaborating For Change

    LaKeith Stanfield and Boots Riley on the set of the "Sorry to Bother You" film.
    Boots Riley’s 2018 directorial debut, “Sorry to Bother You,” is a dark satire about race and capitalist greed. Photo credit: Peter Prato / Annapurna Pictures

    The SFFILM Rainin Grant partnership celebrates ten years of support for filmmakers. This program represents the largest nonprofit financing resource for narrative features in the US.

    The Foundation’s Health Program collaborates with the Helmsley Charitable Trust to advance diet research. Together we invite input from the scientific, biotech and food industry communities to inform a funding roadmap.

  • Embracing Equity

    A closeup of the “We Are The Ones We’ve Been Waiting For” mural by Jessica Sabogal. It shows three children, smiling, and colored in shades of blue, pink and purple.
    “We Are The Ones We’ve Been Waiting For” mural by Jessica Sabogal. Photo credit: Megan De Trane

    Rainin Foundation staff embark on a shared diversity, equity and inclusion learning journey. The Foundation’s three grantmaking programs—Arts, Education and Health— integrate equity as a lens to strengthen program strategies.


  • Reflecting On A Decade Of Service

    Explore the incredible work of our Arts, Education and Health grantees and what we learned in our first decade of formal grantmaking. Video credit: Lori Halloran

    The Rainin Foundation awards more than $71 million in grants in the Arts, Education and Health in its first decade of formal grantmaking. The Foundation celebrates ten years of service and is as committed as ever to its mission of enhancing lives through Arts, Education and Health.


  • Supporting Filmmakers With Disabilities

    The SFFILM Rainin Filmmaker with Disabilities Grant supports Bay Area-based filmmakers whose films specifically address stories from the disability community. Ensuring historically excluded communities have access to artistic and financial support to create a more inclusive film landscape is at the core of SFFILM and the Rainin Foundation’s longtime partnership.

    In a reflection of an unmarked storefront is a grayish silhouette of a man using an electric wheelchair. Behind the man is a spectacular red and yellow circus tent.
    A still image from Reid Davenport’s film on disability and perception, “I Didn’t See You There.” Photo by Reid Davenport, courtesy of SFFILM.
  • Responding To The Pandemic

    A rendering of the coronavirus particle
    COVID-19 particle. Photo credit: Alissa Eckert, MS and Dan Higgins, MAMS

    The COVID-19 pandemic’s exposure of long-standing inequities and the uprisings for racial justice intensify our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. Listening was vital to understand how to best support grantees as they pivoted to meet urgent needs. Our Arts Program launches the East Bay/Oakland Relief Fund for Individuals in the Arts. Our Health Program supports labs with grants and no-cost extensions. Our Education Program awards responsive grants to organizations that provide essential resources to Oakland families.


  • Celebrating A Nobel Prize Winner

    Rainin Foundation grantee Dr. David Julius receives the 2021 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his groundbreaking research into the molecular basis for our sensations of pain and pressure. He received the prize jointly with Ardem Patapoutian, PhD, a molecular biologist at Scripps Research.

    Dr. David Julius. Photo credit: Noah Berger
  • Honoring Community Wisdom

    Bright futures ahead. Photo credit: Stephanie Secrest

    The Foundation collaborates with a Community Strategy Council for Educational Equity and Excellence to co-design four equity focused strategies and surface community-led solutions to improve outcomes for Oakland children.

  • Supporting Visionary Artists

    Introducing the 2021 Rainin Fellows. Video credit: Lori Halloran

    The Foundation partners with United States Artists to launch The Rainin Fellowship in support of visionary Bay Area artists working in dance, film, public space and theater. The Fellowship awards four inaugural artists with unrestricted grants of $100,000 as well as tailored supplemental support.


  • Partnering On Relief Funding

    Dancers with bare chests, white garments around their waists, and colorful COVID-19 face masks on move with spirit boats in their hands.
    “Lakbai Diwa.” Photo credit: Jamie DeWolf

    In response to ongoing pandemic impacts, we continue to partner with other foundations to support the region’s diverse and vitally important cultural communities. Over three years, the East Bay Relief Fund for Individuals in the Arts distributed over $1.6 million to more than 1,000 Bay Area artists.

  • Bringing Scientists Together

    The Foundation’s annual Innovations Symposium marks a decade of convening researchers, trainees and clinicians from around the world to promote cutting edge thinking about Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

    Three scientists smiling at the camera.
    Scientists at our annual Innovations Symposium. Photo credit: Mitch Tobias


  • Centering Accessibility In Communications

    AXIS Dance Company performance of Alice in Californialand. Five dancers are mid-movement on stage, including two using wheelchairs.
    AXIS Dance’s production of “Alice in Californialand.” Photo credit: Steve Disnehof

    The Foundation launches a new website to improve the accessibility of its communications to people with disabilities and ensure grantees and partners can easily navigate the site to access funding opportunities and information.

  • Collaborating To Help Artists Thrive

    Explore how CAST started and how it has been successful in securing safe, affordable spaces for artists to work and thrive. Video credit: Fox Nakai

    The Rainin Foundation, Zellerbach Family Foundation and Fleishhacker Foundation collaborate to create the first-of-its-kind Common App for the Arts, streamlining the grant application process for artists and arts organizations.

    The Foundation celebrates a decade of partnership with Community Arts Stabilization Trust (CAST) and a milestone in its progress. After 10 years of paying below-market lease rates and raising funds, CounterPulse purchases their building from CAST, securing a permanent space for the arts.


  • Celebrating 15 Years Of Enhancing Life

    The Rainin Foundation awards more than $147 million in grants in the Arts, Education and Health in its first 15 years of service.

    A teacher and young students stand in a classroom and sing joyfully and extend their arms upward.
    Oakland Starting Smart and Strong. Photo credit: Hasain Rasheed Photography