John Doerr Donates $1.1 Billion to Stanford University For A New Climate School

John Doerr Donates $1.1 Billion to Stanford University For A New Climate School

Christopher Owen

2020 and 2021 were arguably two of the worst years in human history, filled with suffering, confusion, disarray, and fear for what the future will have in store for us all. American society, government, and welfare pushed beyond previous limits to the point where it seemed like our world was headed on a downward spiral as we knew it, with no peace in sight and humanity growing more divided every single day. After ringing in the New Year a few months ago, we were all hoping for a seamless, smooth transition into 2022, a new chance to put all of our differences aside, reconcile with past challenges and be able to make significant progress towards establishing the equilibrium our planet desperately needs. But the first half of 2022 has truly been nothing short of anxiety-inducing and terrifying, picking up from the utter chaos 2021 left us in. With horrifying atrocities being committed in the war between Russia and Ukraine, the COVID-19 pandemic continuously claiming millions of more lives, the United States stock market on the brink of a recession, and the potential overturn of Roe vs. Wade, it’s no secret that it has been incredibly difficult to remain optimistic and reassured that things will be okay. But even in the midst of all this uncertainty, a recent 1.1 billion-dollar donation from venture capitalist John Doerr to Stanford University is offering us a glimmer of hope to solve one of humanity’s most daunting threats: climate change. 

Our planet has been in a constant battle with the invisible enemy of climate change and we’ve been losing for centuries. Today, Earth is warmer than it has ever been, worldwide biodiversity is at its lowest levels, severe weather occurrences have skyrocketed and roughly 150 species are going extinct every day. Nonetheless, humanity has made a meaningful mark in working to heal mother nature and replenish environmental equilibrium, but ultimately it comes down to time, quality and magnitude. How long it takes for words to be turned into actions, the diligence put into carrying out changes and the widespread impact those efforts can have are essentially the determinant of humanity’s fate. That is, whether or not Earth will be around when we are fully-independent adults. 


John Doerr, an investor and venture capitalist at Kleiner Perkins from Missouri, is a testament to the fact that we have the ability to make an everlasting positive difference in the environment. Doerr’s philosophy revolves around educating younger generations of people on the imminence of and science behind climate change, in the hopes that this will collectivize a movement where thousands of young adults will be entering the field of Environmental Science. As a result, on May 4th, Doerr and his wife, Ann, donated a whopping $1.1 billion to Stanford University with the intent of establishing a climate school. Named the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability, it’s Stanford’s newest school in over 70 years and will be open for enrollment at the start of the Fall 2022 semester. Doerr’s generous donation is the second-largest given to a college/university and is the largest in Stanford’s history, just giving us a sense of how unprecedented and game-changing the Doerr School of Sustainability will truly be.

As someone majoring in Environment & Sustainability in college, this news is the miracle I’ve been searching for a while, as I believe this will not only make Environmental Science more popular but more supported and understood. The fatal disconnect between those who are informed about environmental degradation and those who aren’t is taking a huge toll on the health of our planet. In my eyes, the Doerr School of Sustainability is a giant leap toward spreading awareness, informing humanity about the grave reality of climate change, and encouraging more young adults to find careers/interests in the natural world. I want to personally thank Mr. and Mrs. Doerr for their incredible gift of this new climate school because I know there will be thousands of eager students around the world who cannot wait to start making a difference at a university that has been tackling climate change for decades. As an incoming freshman, I feel significantly more confident in myself and in pursuing my mission of helping to heal the world and spend the rest of my life fighting to combat an issue that is putting humanity on the brink of extinction. 

In a world ravaged by climate change, no effort is too small, too insignificant, or too cheap to be worth pursuing. The door is open. Now, all we need to do is walk through it and get to work.