A Letter from Our Founders
2022: A Year of Focusing and Fortitude

2022 was a busy and productive year for King Philanthropies! Our highlights:

We sharpened our strategic focus

In 2022, we decided to focus the majority of our work on catalyzing solutions at the intersection of climate change and extreme poverty.

To underscore our commitment, we updated our mission statement and delineated seven programmatic priorities. These are:

  • Nutritious food systems

  • Water

  • Land rights

  • Climate-smart agriculture

  • Preventing food spoilage

  • Electricity/Clean energy

  • Education for girls

We achieved measurable results

The number of lives in which we’ve made a meaningful difference continues to grow, reaching 6.1 million in 2022, with a cumulative total of 10.8 million since 2017.

To take one example, our King-Climate Action Initiative (K-CAI) at J-PAL at MIT has helped improve air quality for residents of India’s Gujarat state by supporting the world’s first emission trading scheme for particulate matter air pollution. This scheme—the impact of which was successfully demonstrated in a randomized-control trial—is critical because particulate matter pollution kills millions of people each year in developing countries. Indeed, just reducing India’s air pollution to standards deemed acceptable by the World Health Organization would add five years to average life expectancies. Our K-CAI grant will help scale the emissions trading scheme in Gujarat and other states—and add years to the lives of millions more people. 

Our grants are also projected to make a significant dent in greenhouse gas emissions. For example, Landesa’s work protecting mangrove ecosystems has multiple benefits, including as a highly-effective carbon sequestration solution. Across our grants made so far, we will continue to draw down and avoid an estimated 475 million tons of carbon. Since the average car emits about 1.38 tons of carbon annually, that is equal to taking 344 million gas-powered cars off the road for a year!

Mangroves in Phang Nga Bay in Southern Thailand—an area where Landesa is working to protect mangroves, improve community livelihoods, and mitigate climate change.

We launched an exciting Impact Investing initiative

In early 2022, we began investing in transformative climate solutions that will contribute to net-zero greenhouse emissions by 2050 and make a meaningful difference in the lives of the world’s poorest people. Our investments so far include:

  • SOURCE, the world’s first solar-powered, infrastructure-free system to pull clean water out of the air.
  • Mori, which has created a water-based coating that is applied to fruit, vegetables, meats, and seafood to slow the spoiling process.
  • Ryp Labs, which developed a sticker that slows the ripening process in fruit and reduces spoilage.
  • Mootral, whose innovative feed combats methane emissions from cows, which account for 30 percent of the world’s methane.
  • Energicity, which develops solar-powered mini-grids, providing impoverished communities in West Africa much-needed energy.
  • Babban Gona, which implements climate-smart agricultural practices that build smallholder farmers’ resilience to climate shocks.

In September 2022, we held our first large convening at the Stanford King Center. The gathering brought together senior impact investment professionals from the World Bank / International Finance Corporation and Bay Area climate impact funds. Participants exchanged ideas on climate solutions, impact investing, and how to attract increased private, public, and philanthropic climate-focused capital into low-income countries.

We continued our funding of climate adaptation efforts

If left unchecked, climate change will push up to 130 million people into poverty over the next decade, unraveling hard-won poverty gains. To help prevent such an outcome, we bolstered our funding for climate adaptation initiatives.

  • We continued our support of CAMFED’s girls education programming in Tanzania to train smallholder farmers in climate-smart farming techniques.

  • We brokered and are funding a first-of-its-kind collaboration between SOURCE and CAMFED to place SOURCE’s hydropanels at CAMFED-run schools in Zambia. This will provide children with pure, clean, and safe drinking water.

  • We are funding Switch Bioworks, a pathbreaking fertilizer organization, to support research into breakthrough, climate-positive fertilizer technology for smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa.

  • We made a grant to Vesta, an award-winning non-profit working to scale coastal carbon capture as a climate adaptation solution. This reduces ocean acidification and improves coastal ecosystems by drawing down carbon from the atmosphere.

  • We made a grant to the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication to support world-class research on climate science and award-winning climate programming focused on mitigation, adaptation, and resilience.

We made a public commitment to fighting hunger and malnutrition

Hunger is on the rise worldwide. More than 800 million people go to bed hungry each night and malnutrition drives 45 percent of deaths of children under the age of five. King Philanthropies committed $100 million to combat hunger and malnutrition in December 2021, and in 2022 we determined to do even more. So, at the United Nations General Assembly side event known as The Child Malnutrition Crisis: Pledging to Save Lives, we joined other funders and government agencies in making an additional financial commitment to address the scourge of severe wasting and malnutrition. (To read more about this, please see our Chronicle post.)

In our effort to fight hunger and malnutrition worldwide:

  • We made a grant to Particles for Humanity, which has pioneered a cutting-edge food fortification technology that stabilizes Vitamin A for seven times longer than existing solutions. Vitamin A deficiency is a primary cause of childhood disease and death in the developing world, and Particles for Humanity’s innovation could potentially benefit nearly 90 million pregnant women and children in sub-Saharan Africa who suffer from a lack of Vitamin A.

  • We also made a grant to Valala Farms, a California Academy of Sciences project that is developing, producing, and evaluating the use of a nutritious powder made from crickets to fight famine and malnutrition in Madagascar.

  • And, our ongoing support of One Acre Fund continues to help African farmers with the financing, inputs, training, and market linkages that they need to boost crop yields and increase profits. In addition, our most recent grant to One Acre Fund focuses on restoring soil health and adopting regenerative agricultural practices that help to combat climate change.

We continued to develop future leaders with out Global Scholars program

Our Global Scholars come from 24 countries with 5 new countries—South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Benin, Bangladesh and Afghanistan— added to the global footprint for the class of 2026. 

Nine King Scholars from Dartmouth joined us in Maine for a Thanksgiving feast!  The King Scholars at Dartmouth, as well as the King-Morgridge Scholars at the University of Wisconsin and the Knight-Hennessy Scholars at Stanford, remain a source of inspiration and hope to all of us. It is a privilege to watch these extraordinary students prepare for leadership roles in their home countries.

Celebrating Thanksgiving in Maine with King Scholars from Dartmouth.

We fostered further job creation through Stanford Seed

Stanford Seed partners with entrepreneurs in emerging economies to help them build thriving businesses that transform lives. Seed—which was established with the help of a transformational gift we made in 2011—has to date worked with 762 founders and CEOs in emerging markets. SEED enterprises have raised $690 million in capital, served 175 million customers, and impacted 640,000+ household members through direct and indirect job creation. The number of direct jobs created by Seed enterprises surpassed 20,000. Twenty-five percent of Seed entrepreneurs are women.

We spurred world class research at the Stanford King Center on Global Development

The King Center on Global Development works to help improve the lives of people living in poverty around the world. The Center has 126 affiliated faculty and researchers at Stanford and has provided 173 quarters of research assistantship funding for undergraduate, masters, and PhD. students. The scholarship of King Center affiliates is informing public policy debate on a broad range of issues related to global development, including those that intersect with climate change. 

We celebrated!

We were deeply honored to be awarded Stanford University’s most prestigious, and rarely bestowed, alumni award: the Degree of Uncommon Citizen. As was reported in our Chronicle post, this award is given only when the president of Stanford University deems it appropriate to recognize individuals whose service to Stanford has been “rare and extraordinary.”  The degree was officially bestowed on us at a festive September celebration attended by Stanford’s current and former leaders, faculty, and alumni; people impacted by our support of Stanford; our beloved family and friends; and members of the terrific KP team. It included this wonderful video tribute:

We were humbled to hear former Stanford president John Hennessy say of us, “…they’ve changed the world and they’ve made for a better world by making better people who will go out and continue to improve the world we live in.”

We continued to build our extraordinary King Philanthropies team

In 2022, we welcomed six new team members—Sithu Thein Swe, Senior Portfolio Manager; Dr. Jennifer Brandon, Climate Scientist; Nguhi Mwaura, Global Scholars Consultant; Juliana Green, Principal, Climate; Kevin Yang, Senior Investment Associate, Climate; Roxana Fierro, Administrative Assistant.

In addition, we welcomed Matt Bannick as Senior Advisor, Impact Investing.

And we will soon welcome Katharine Hayhoe, who will join our board in early 2023.

Good people lead us to good people!

We wish you all a happy and healthy 2023!