Jen Rainin launched the Kenneth Rainin Foundation in 2008, and has served as CEO since that time. She previously worked as a teacher and literacy specialist, earning her doctorate in education from the University of Illinois, Chicago along the way.
Under Jen’s leadership, the Foundation has adopted a targeted approach to grantmaking, developing several major initiatives in the Arts, Education and Health program areas. In the Arts, she established the SFFILM Rainin Filmmaking Grants, a successful partnership that has become the largest granting body for independent narrative feature films in the US. She also helped create the Community Arts Stabilization Trust, a groundbreaking real estate holding company, which has gained international recognition for its approach to mitigating the displacement of arts and cultural organizations throughout the Bay Area. In Education, Jen has focused the Foundation’s work on early childhood education in Oakland, supporting literacy development for children from birth through third grade, and professional development for teachers and coaches working with these students. Jen‘s efforts in Health led to grantmaking programs to support high risk, high reward ideas that advance Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) research and the launch of Rainin Foundation’s Innovations Symposium, an annual event that brings together international and US researchers from disparate disciplines to inspire novel ideas and collaborations that benefit IBD research.
Jen founded Frankly Speaking Films with Rivkah Beth Medow in 2020 to produce media that centers strong LGBTQ+ women and non-binary people to increase visibility and spark change. She focuses her filmmaking on building community, deepening understanding of social justice issues and telling great stories. Her Executive Producer credits include JEANNETTE (in festivals), a feature documentary about a survivor of the Pulse nightclub massacre; Stage Left (2011), a documentary about the history of theater in the Bay Area; Two Spirits (2009), a documentary about gender identity in Native American cultures which aired on Independent Lens; and Homeroom (2021), a documentary about Oakland’s education system. As an actor, Jen is known for The Invited (2010), We Have to Stop Now (2010) and The Four Twenty-One (2009). Ahead of the Curve (2020) was Jen’s directorial debut. She produced and co-directed Holding Moses (2022), The New Yorker short documentary and Oscar contender.
Jen’s deep commitment to philanthropy was instilled early on by her father, Kenneth Rainin. She co-founded The Curve Foundation with her wife, Franco Stevens, in 2021 . The mission and vision of the organization are inspired by Curve magazine, formerly Deneuve, America’s best-selling lesbian magazine. Jen continues to be involved in supporting numerous community-based organizations, including the Center for Colitis and Crohn’s Disease at the University of California, San Francisco, which she established with her father. Her philanthropic efforts have garnered several awards, including 2015 Outstanding Foundation from the Golden Gate Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Inside Philanthropy’s 2014 IPPY award and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America’s 2013 Champion of Hope.
Jen actively engages with grantees and experts in the Foundation’s program areas, bringing people together to inspire collaborations, and listening to ideas outside of philanthropy’s traditional circles.