Gilead Foundation bounces back with a bang—$200M in the bank and ambitious goals

The Gilead Foundation is back in business and lining up new goals for 2021—thanks to a pocketful of cash from Gilead Sciences. Begun in in 2005, the nonprofit Gilead Foundation took a break in 2020 to reimagine what it could do with a significant endowment.

Now, thanks to parent Gilead, it has just that—$200 million in funding announced this week, earmarked to further the pharma’s vision “to create a healthier world for all people.”

The foundation board took the broad mission and broke it down into three focus areas: funding health justice initiatives, funding local community groups and matching employee donations to eligible nonprofits at a higher rate.

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Pharma companies upped their charitable giving during the pandemic as they tried to aid healthcare efforts and, in particular, boosted health equity causes. Bristol Myers Squibb for instance, pledged $300 million over five years, while Johnson & Johnson donated $100 million also over five years as part of a broad acknowledgement of racial inequality across healthcare that's been heightened by the pandemic.

The donations and commitments also play into the social bucket of environment, social and governance goals and its rising importance to investors, consumers and the pharma company employees themselves.

For Gilead, its new health justice program called the Creating Possible Fund will award grants to organizations working on “innovative approaches to complex social issues, especially those affecting the most underserved members of society, including people of color and LGBTQ+ youth,” Gilead said in its press release.

“The Creating Possible Fund is new this year with a focus on health justice that will go beyond what we’re already been doing,” Keeley Wettan, the chair of the Gilead Foundation board and senior vice president, legal, at Gilead Sciences, said in an interview with Fierce Pharma.

Requests for grant proposals will go out later this year, she said.

The second priority for the foundation is grounded in helping local communities and nonprofit groups where Gilead employees live and work. The emphasis for those grants will be on social services such as disaster relief and humanitarian efforts.

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The third push—matching employee donations—continues Gilead's ongoing Giving Together program but increases the annual matching dollar amount to $15,000. Any of Gilead’s more than 12,000 employees can take advantage of the matching funds to give to an eligible nonprofit.

“Employees are really excited about the matching—those are real dollars that, when you think about it going to a school or community program, that’s a real impact,” a Gilead spokesman said.

Wettan said she herself has used the employee program, donating to her daughters’ school matched by Gilead funds.