By ANDREW MOORE
Reporter with Silicon Hills News
It’s hard to start something from nothing. Even the greatest, most world-changing idea needs some seed funding and community support to get under way.
This is what the 80/20 Foundation was created for. As Graham Weston’s personal philanthropic organization, the foundation operates on the same 80/20 principle, called the Pareto Principle, which Weston has associated with so many other parts of business. Simply put: 80 percent of business growth and innovation comes from the 20 percent of a city’s customers and innovators.
The 80/20 Foundation seeks out this 20 percent of the tech community and grants nonprofit organizations small, short term grants to get them off the ground. The Foundation never funds a nonprofit organization completely or indefinitely, however.
Most of the 80/20 Foundation’s funding focuses on their three primary areas in San Antonio: creating more urban options for professionals, supporting a technology community, and promoting tech education. The Foundation has helped fund the B-cycle program and is currently working to create a unique Mission Reach park in hopes of making the city more attractive to young tech professionals. To establish San Antonio as a tech hub, the foundation is funding 3 Day Startup San Antonio events for both UTSA and St. Mary’s University. To promote learning, it gave $500,000 to UTSA so they could incorporate new cloud computing technologies, such as OpenStack, that will accelerate research initiatives.
The overarching goal of the 80/20 Foundation is to create an educated workforce and environment of innovation in San Antonio where the next Rackspace, Facebook, or Google could be born.
While the 80/20 Foundation has existed since 2009, it has developed most of its structure as a nonprofit in the last year-and-a-half. Weston brought on startup executive Lorenzo Gomez as Executive Director, education scholar Scott Meltzer as Deputy Director, and St. Mary’s graduate Ryan Salts as the Operations Manager. According to Gomez, the Foundation is projected to give out around 16 grants in 2013 totaling about $1.5 million.
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Full disclosure: Graham Weston is co-founder of Geekdom, which is a sponsor of Silicon Hills News.