$25 Million Gift From Jeff And Karen Miller Advances Social Entrepreneurship At Santa Clara University
Published: May 01, 2015
Landmark Donation Names the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship
SANTA CLARA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Silicon Valley entrepreneur and venture capitalist Jeff Miller, together with his philanthropic partner and wife, Karen, have given Santa Clara University $25 million to fuel its center dedicated to applying innovation and entrepreneurship approaches to address the needs of the global poor.
“We are tremendously fortunate to have the Millers as supporters, allies, and generous benefactors”
The transformative gift will enable the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship -- the new name of the former Center for Science, Technology, and Society -- to continue and expand upon its three main areas of focus: training and mentoring global social entrepreneurs; creating new ways to unlock funding for social entrepreneurs; and engaging faculty and student fellows who provide value-added research to social entrepreneurs worldwide.
“We are very grateful for the tremendous generosity of the Millers,” said Michael Engh, S.J., president of Santa Clara University. “For years they have given their time and resources to help us mentor and serve some of the world’s brightest social entrepreneurs tackling humanity’s most intractable problems. Their guidance and support for the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship are vital to Santa Clara’s commitment to serving the poor.”
The $25 million gift is one of the largest ever to Santa Clara University. The donation will allow the Center to increase its capacity to support more entrepreneurs, as well as expand SCU's influence in social entrepreneurship and impact investing. This work will help lift millions of people out of poverty while creating opportunities for them to participate in the global marketplace.
In addition to funding the Center, the gift will help launch fundraising for a state-of-the-art science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) facility. Entrepreneurship, and especially social entrepreneurship in which the primary goal is to create social impact through sustainable ventures, requires cross-disciplinary thinking. Solving the pressing problems of poverty requires analyzing entire ecosystems to understand why the problems exist, and how to make a sustainable impact; solutions rarely result from a siloed approach. Santa Clara University’s STEM complex will house the Miller Center and allow the Center to engage students in systems thinking and advancing innovations that can catalyze real change.
“Karen and I have been blessed by opportunities and advantages. We’ve enjoyed being raised, educated, and employed in one of the most innovative and enriching places on earth,” said Jeff Miller, ’73 and MBA ’76, who is a University trustee. “At this pivotal time for both Santa Clara University and the Center, with a new strategic vision that includes a STEM complex with the Center at its core, this is the perfect way for us to give back.”
The three departments within the Miller Center have the bold goal of positively impacting the lives of 1 billion people by the year 2020 by empowering social entrepreneurs globally:
- With 12 years of experience in 60 countries, the Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI ®) has provided stage-appropriate online and in-person capacity development programs to more than 340 social entrepreneurs at no cost to the entrepreneurs. One of the key differences between the GSBI and other accelerators is its 80 Silicon Valley executive-level mentors who provide weekly personalized guidance to program participants.
- The Impact Capital team provides social entrepreneurs with financial coaching and educates investors about impact capital – investing for social and financial returns. In addition, Impact Capital connects impact investors and local banks to social entrepreneurs through innovative financial products that open new funding opportunities.
- The Education and Action Research department provides a comprehensive undergraduate fellowship of field-based study for Santa Clara University students by placing them with GSBI social entrepreneurs around the world. The research provided by Fellows furthers the social mission of these enterprises.
“All people deserve to live a dignified life,” said Karen Miller, who has been an integral partner for years in the couple’s philanthropic efforts and is currently a board member on the Warriors Community Foundation. “A dignified life means clean water, education, basic health needs, and a livelihood that they can be proud of. This gift is our way of ensuring the Center endures and thrives in bringing life-stabilizing opportunity to as many people as possible.”
The couple has long supported the Center. Jeff has been equally generous with his time as he and Karen have been with their financial resources: He has served for more than six years on the Center’s advisory board, which he has chaired since 2011. Jeff has been a mentor to social entrepreneurs participating in the GSBI since 2006 and a trustee of the University since 2012; from 2009 to 2010, he acted as a co-managing director for the Center.
Jeff Miller is president of JAMM Ventures, a business consulting company based in Diablo, California, where he has served as a board member and helped companies including Data Domain, which was sold to EMC for $2.5 billion; and Service Now, which went public in 2012 and currently has a $12 billion market cap. With over 40 years of experience in Silicon Valley firms, Jeff was formerly CEO and chairman of Documentum, helping steer it from a technology-driven startup to an established public software firm. He was also previously a venture partner with Redpoint Ventures, where he mentored CEOs of enterprise and infrastructure software companies.
Jeff earned his bachelor’s of science degree in electrical engineering and computer science from SCU in 1973 and his MBA in 1976. Karen attended San Jose State University before spending 10 years at Intel in production management and administration. She honed her abilities to project manage and multi-task as a stay-at-home parent to the couple’s two sons; for the past 12 years, Karen has co-directed the couple’s philanthropic work with Jeff.
“We are tremendously fortunate to have the Millers as supporters, allies, and generous benefactors,” said Thane Kreiner, Ph.D., executive director of the Center. “They share our mission and embody the Center’s unique combination of Silicon Valley entrepreneurial DNA and the Jesuit tradition of serving the poor. We look forward to many years of collaboration and success in our quest to eradicate poverty and mitigate climate change.”
About the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship
Founded in 1997, the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship is one of three Centers of Distinction at Santa Clara University. The Centers embody the University’s mission to unite students and faculty with Silicon Valley leaders to address significant public issues. The Miller Center accelerates global, innovation-based entrepreneurship in service to humanity. Its strategic focus is on poverty eradication through its three areas of work: The Global Social Benefit Institute, Impact Capital, and Education and Action Research. To learn more about the Center or any of its social entrepreneurship programs, please visit www.scu.edu/MillerCenter.
About Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its more than 9,000 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering; master’s degrees in business, education, counseling psychology, pastoral ministry, and theology; and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see www.scu.edu.
® Copyright 2015. GSBI is a registered trademark of Santa Clara University. All rights reserved.