Billionaire venture capitalist John Doerr is funding a new school at Stanford University focused specifically on climate change, calling sustainability the "computer science of our time" in an interview with The New York Times.
The $1.1 billion gift from Doerr and his wife Ann is the largest to fund a new school in Stanford's history. The new Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability aims to increase impact of climate research amid the "scale and urgency of climate change and other planetary challenges," the university announced Wednesday.
Along with establishing new academic departments, the donation will support new interdisciplinary institutes, a Sustainability Accelerator aimed at "developing near-term policy and technology solutions" and a facility called the Sustainability Commons, located on the west side of Stanford's campus.
“The school will absolutely focus on policy issues and on asking what would it take to move the world toward more sustainable practices and better behaviors,” Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne told the Times.
Doerr is a longtime Silicon Valley venture capitalist, currently serving as the chairman of VC firm Kleiner Perkins. At the firm, Doerr has backed tech giants like Amazon, Google and Slack, and has also been investing in clean tech companies since 2006. Ann Doerr is the chair of Khan Academy, and a former board member and current advisory board member of the Environmental Defense Fund.
“This is what the young people want to work on with their lives, for all the right reasons," John Doerr told the Times.
The couple join the ranks of several billionaires who have made investments in climate change solutions. In 2020, Jeff Bezos announced plans to donate $10 billion to an initiative called the Bezos Earth Fund, and Elon Musk put $100 million toward carbon removal technology. Bill and Melinda Gates have long donated millions to environmental causes, including a $315 million pledge last November towards global agriculture research amid climate threats.