"There are more worthwhile charitable projects in need of funds than funds available. It's up to all of us to do what we can to help bridge this gap. We're just doing our part."

About the Founders

"I hope we can be remembered by our donations to mankind, to those in need and to those who can make the world a better place for all of us." Michele Kirsch

Steve and Michele Kirsch are philanthropists who are blazing a new trail for charitable giving and political advocacy throughout the high-tech community, particularly Silicon Valley. They give their time and talents as well as substantial financial resources. From acting as mentors to aspiring entrepreneurial philanthropists to serving in leadership roles with numerous nonprofit organizations to urging civic engagement among their colleagues, Steve and Michele are passionately committed to insuring a better world for future generations.


Steve Kirsch, 50, is founder and chairman of Propel Software and CEO of Abaca, both Silicon Valley start-ups. He is, however, perhaps best known as the founder and chairman of Infoseek Corporation, an Internet navigation service that was acquired by the Walt Disney Company in November 1999.

Prior to Infoseek, Steve founded Frame Technology in 1986 and Mouse Systems in 1982. He has been involved with the Internet since 1972 when he worked with the "Father of the Internet" Vint Cerf while attending high school. He has BS and MS degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT.

In addition to his current companies, Steve has become well-known for his efforts to eliminate junk faxes. He has established and maintains a comprehensive site,, to help consumers and businesses and he has won lawsuits and judgments against junk fax operations.

Steve is also a member of the Advisory Board of the Ploughshares Fund. Ploughshares, a Foundation grant recipient and grantmaking partner, focuses its activities on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, a cause the Foundation champions.

Michele Kirsch is a graduate of Mills College in Oakland, California, and earned a JD from Santa Clara University. Prior to starting a family, she was a commercial real estate broker in San Francisco. While equally committed to strategic philanthropy, she prefers a low-key approach, acting as a volunteer, Board member, community leader and fundraiser for her favorite charities.

Philanthropic Commitment

Steve and Michele Kirsch made a $2.5 million gift to MIT several years ago to underwrite a state-of-the-art auditorium in the school's new Stata Center. On May 7th, 2004, Steve attended the dedication ceremony. The building, designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, is home to the computer, information and intelligence sciences, which reflects Steve's educational focus as an MIT undergraduate. As Steve stated: "I'm not donating an auditorium, I'm just one of a group of alumni contributing toward better facilities at MIT. Our faculty and students are first-rate, and they really deserve first-rate facilities."

MIT Dedication photos courtesy of Joe Heitzeberg

Frank Gehry and Steve Kirsch

Kirsch Auditorium Plaque

Outside the Stata Center

Stata Center

Inside the Auditorium

On January 28, 2004, Steve and Michele Kirsch celebrated the groundbreaking of the Kirsch Center for Environmental Studies at De Anza College in Cupertino, California. This landmark center, opened in fall 2005, was the first of its kind on a college campus west of the Mississippi. The vision for the Center was and continues to be a "building that teaches." More about the building can be found on the De Anza College website.

From left, Julie Phillips, Morgan Family Chair in Environmental Studies
at De Anza College, Michele Kirsch, Steve Kirsch, Dr. Judy C. Miner,
Interim President, De Anza College, Dr. Martha J. Kanter, Chancellor,
Foothill-De Anza Community College District.

To make the best use of their financial resources, in the early 1990s the Kirsches established a donor-advised fund at Community Foundation Silicon Valley (CFSV). They knew they could rely on the professionals at CFSV to guide their local contributions. After the fund grew to more than $30 million in assets, the Kirsches decided to establish a supporting foundation – The Steven and Michele Kirsch Foundation – within CFSV. In 2006, CFSV merged with Peninsula Community Foundation to become Silicon Valley Community Foundation, of which the Kirsch Foundation is currently a supporting organization.

Steve and Michele Kirsch are convinced that their financial resources need to be strategically deployed in order to address core issues facing the environment, the elimination of nuclear weapons, medical research, political reform and the community. They are focused on finding solutions and cures, not simply addressing symptoms. This belief is at the core of the Foundation’s activities.

The Kirsches with the Catalyst For a Cure researchers
Left to right. Standing: Nicholas Marsh-Armstrong, David Calkins,
David Hutcheson, Rebecca Stephenson, Martha Morehouse
Seated: Monica Vetter, Steve Kirsch, Michele Kirsch, Philip Horner


In the July 2005 issue of San Jose Magazine, Steve and Michele were recognized once again for their extraordinary philanthropy, as part of the “Power 100” annual list of the most influential people in the region.

Valley Life Quarterly’s Summer 2005 issue featured a cover page story about Steve, called “Asteroids Ahead.”

In September 2004, Space News 100 Who Made a Difference recognized Steve as an "Angel" for funding the construction of the Mars Society's Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station in Canada's Devon Island.

San Jose Magazine's "Power 100" recognized Steve and Michele's philanthropic contributions to Silicon Valley in the May 2003 issue.

The December 2002 issue of Worth Magazine featured a list of the "25 most generous young Americans", and Steve and Michele were highlighted as the fifth most generous.

In May 2002, San Jose Magazine listed Steve as one of "The Power 100 of Silicon Valley" in recognition of his philanthropic efforts. In the same month, the San Jose Mercury News Business Portfolio section discussed Steve's approach to investing.

In its June 14, 2001, issue, The Chronicle of Philanthropy featured an article about Steve. During this interview, he spoke frankly about his philanthropic activity despite the economic slowdown, the driving principles behind his foundation and his ambitious goals with national and global impact.

Publicity includes Worth Magazine's cover story in the December/January 2001 issue, Slate Magazine's February 15, 2000 issue, and Worth Magazine's "100 Most Generous Americans" article, which appeared in the April 2000 issue. Steve and Michele were #8 on the Slate 60, (an article portraying the largest American charitable contributions of 1999) and number 96 on the Worth Magazine list.


The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition recognized Steve and Michele Kirsch with their Community Partner Award at an October 5, 2006, event. The Kirsches – along with Martha Kanter, Chancellor of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District – were honored for their support of sustainable “green” buildings in the California community college system.

The League of Conservation Voters of Santa Clara County honored Steve and Michele Kirsch on September 28, 2006, as “Environmentalists of the Year” in recognition of their “altruistic environmental philanthropy.”

The Glaucoma Research Foundation presented Michele and Steve Kirsch with the inaugural Catalyst Award on December 8, 2004, for their innovative leadership in medical research, particularly with regard to finding the cause of glaucoma.

Michele and Steve Kirsch received the Duveneck Humanitarian Award from Hidden Villa on Saturday, September 18, 2004, for their commitment to protecting the environment.

Award Recipients (L-R) Gail Hallenbeck, Nancy Beck, and Michele Kirsch

On September 9, 2004, Michele Kirsch was one of a select group of women honored by San Jose Magazine with its "Women Making a Mark" award. The award recognizes "the inspiring efforts of local women who are the epitome of selflessness and exemplary role models for future generations."

On November 17, 2003, Steve personally accepted the Caring Award from the Caring Institute in Washington, D.C., on behalf of Michele and himself. The Caring Institute celebrates those special individuals who, in transcending self, devote their lives in service to others, especially the disadvantaged, the poor, the disabled and the dying. Its mission is to promote the values of caring, integrity and public service. "Caring means doing your part to make the world better. It's tackling tough issues personally and being passionate about your beliefs and values. Caring requires your time, your energy, your money and your belief that you can indeed make a difference," stated Steve in accepting the Award.

San Jose Magazine and Wells Fargo Bank presented Steve with the 2003 Legacy Award on November 11, 2003. Recipients of the award are chosen as a result of their decision to draw on personal wealth to benefit either the surrounding community or the greater society. Steve was not only being honored for his outstanding contributions to the community, but also because of his work to inspire others to take steps that will bring about similar, meaningful results, both immediate and long-term.

Michele and Steve Kirsch at the PACT luncheon
November 2002

Steve and Michele were honored at the People Acting in Community Together (PACT) luncheon on November 15, 2002, as leading Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs and Philanthropists.

Steve and Michele Kirsch at Points of Light Celebration,
August 2001, wearing their volunteer medals.

On August 15, 2001, Steve and Michele were among 25 honorees at the 2001 Points of Light Celebration that salutes the top San Francisco Bay Area volunteers.

Junior Achievement of Santa Clara County honored Steve at its 15th Annual Business Hall of Fame as one of its five Laureates on April 20, 2001. Business Hall of Fame Laureates have a record of business achievement and exemplify the qualities of business excellence, courageous thinking and actions, vision and innovation, and inspiring leadership which allows them to serve as role models for youth.

In May 2000, the American Lung Association of the Bay Area, now known as Breathe California of the Bay Area, presented a Clean Air ENVY Award for Outstanding Leadership to Steve Kirsch and the Kirsch Foundation. Steve and the Foundation were honored for leadership in promoting the use of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) through advocacy for ZEV production requirements, incentives, and other benefits for ZEV owners.

In late 1999, the Kirsches received the "1999 Outstanding Philanthropists" award from the National Society of Fund Raising Executives/Silicon Valley Chapter (NSFRE) to recognize their sustained and extensive commitment in support of philanthropy throughout the Silicon Valley community.

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