GSR pledges $10 million to its philanthropic social impact foundation

Quick Take

  • The GSR Foundation will act as a grant-making charity to support global non-profit organizations.
  • A majority of the foundation’s focus at first will involve smaller grants for nonprofit organizations to address technological barriers in marginalized communities, according to GSR Foundation Executive Director James Newell.

GSR, the crypto market maker founded by former Goldman Sachs executives, will launch the GSR Foundation with a $10 million pledge the company said will be used to address technological barriers encountered by marginalized communities.

The GSR foundation will support nonprofit organizations around the globe and aims to correct entrenched problems in the philanthropic ecosystem that could be overcome through emerging technologies. Participation barriers disproportionately affect a number of marginalized communities, “including BIPOC communities, women, LGBTQ+, refugees, populations within less-developed economies, and many others,” GSR said.

“We believe that new technologies, like blockchain and crypto, can play an important role in changing this, but this will only happen if no one is excluded from participating,” newly appointed GSR Foundation Executive Director James Newell told The Block.

As GSR branches into philanthropy, its labor force is shrinking. In addition to staff reductions in October, GSR recently saw another 5% to 10% workforce decline amid layoffs and resignations due to a low January bonus, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Where traditional philanthropy fails

“There are too many areas where traditional finance and traditional philanthropy fail communities. For example, look at how many people are un-bankable in Afghanistan, or how difficult it is to make bank transfers to populations affected by conflict,” Newell said. 

Whether communities are facing a lack of hardware or other difficulties, the foundation seeks to better understand “any work that challenges paradigms, uses existing technologies in new ways, or applies new technologies to longstanding problems,” he said.

Programs for small and large grants were formed by the foundation and it is expected that the smaller grant program will be most active in the next two years. The foundation will shift gears to larger grants with “a higher value, lower volume approach once we have established where our funding is most impactful,” Newell said.

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