$10 million gift to school of journalism from Angela and David Filo

Berkeley Journalism alum Angela Filo and her husband David Filo, the co-founder of Yahoo, have made a $10 million gift to the journalism school — the largest single gift to the school in its history.

The gift publicly kicks off a five-year $54.4 million Campaign for Berkeley Journalism.

“Great journalism is essential to a thriving democracy,” said Angela Filo), a member of the school’s Advisory Board. “We have to invest in training the next generation of journalists who will ensure that communities have access to reliable and responsive information they can trust.”

Dean Geeta Anand expressed her deep appreciation to the Filos for two decades of significant financial support to the school. Over the years, they have provided flexible annual operating funds, supported student fellowships and endowed a faculty chair.

“This gift is an extraordinary investment in journalism education, which is an investment in justice, democracy and the health of our planet,” said Anand. “This gift fuels our vision to meet the challenges of our times and uplift journalism.”

The Filo gift will enable the school to substantially increase its support for students, including doubling the financial aid offered to incoming students in the fall of 2024.

In addition to providing immediate funds for financial aid and strategic initiatives, the gift also includes endowment support for future generations of Berkeley Journalism students. Through a matching gift challenge, the gift aims to inspire contributions by other donors for new Berkeley Journalism master’s fellowship endowments.

The gift broadly supports the goals of the Campaign for Berkeley Journalism:

Equity: Changing who gets to be a journalist by supporting the diversity of students who come to the school and enabling all students to graduate debt free.

Leadership: Expanding investigative journalism and reporting on threats, such as climate change.

Community: Strengthening the school’s place at the center of the world’s leading public university, building world-class journalism programs, and cultivating inclusion and belonging.

“Our world needs as many storytellers as possible bringing their experience and their wisdom, and also engaging deeply with the principles of great journalism,” Filo said. “In this disrupted moment, it’s even more important that we open the doors to journalism wider and create the conditions for innovation that the field urgently needs.”

Filo, who completed her undergraduate degree at Stanford University, said she hopes the funding will increase access to the kind of education she received at Berkeley Journalism. She recalls her tight-knit journalism experience, marked by small classes and the J-200 “boot camp” taught by faculty with real-world journalism expertise. She was in Professor Bill Drummond’s J-200 class and took his audio class, which gave her a chance to report on Oakland — an experience that led to reporting opportunities at the Oakland Tribune. She says the school’s ethos of learning journalism by doing was powerful for her and fellow students.

“We were put in contexts where there was no single right answer. And we were taught the ethics of journalism in the only way you can teach it, by thinking about real-world scenarios and grappling with tradeoffs,” she said.

After journalism school, Filo worked as a high school journalism and photography teacher in East Palo Alto, where she used journalism as a vehicle to teach about everything from civic responsibility to questioning authority to the First Amendment. Her work as a photographer includes long-term projects focused on the Silicon Valley landscape as well as community-based projects and public art.

Filo created Skyline Foundation along with her husband, David, more than two decades ago. The Bay Area-based family foundation funds local, national and global nonprofits working in the areas of journalism and democracy, education, climate change and birth justice.

In the journalism realm, the Filos are part of Press Forward, a half-billion dollar effort of some 20 major foundations and philanthropists to support local news. Skyline Foundation makes grants to local news organizations, such as El Timpano, a news site for the East Bay’s Latino and Mayan immigrants run by Berkeley Journalism alum Madeleine Bair (’01). The couple is also dedicated to funding investigative journalism that holds power to account. They support ProPublica, where Angela Filo serves on the board of directors, as well as the American Journalism Project and MLK50.

Filo said the foundation seeks out organizations where leaders have a compelling vision and gives them flexible, multi-year support to tackle tough, foundational, long-term issues. Berkeley Journalism, with its legendary Investigative Reporting Program, is one of those organizations, she said.

“We really care about building institutions and supporting an infrastructure that will carry the work far into the future,” Filo said. “Berkeley Journalism is an enduring institution that is dedicated to excellence and innovation in the field.”


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