California’s Bay Area is known for its history, its nature, and its booming high-tech industry. These factors are enough to bring in any number of travelers hoping to sneak a peek at the luxurious California lifestyle, but moreover, these culturally rich areas attract celebrities and business people to come and stay—such as the likes of Mark Zuckerberg and Michelle Pfeiffer. An area so rich in wealth is quick to become an area rich in those determined to give back to their communities. Among those, is Laura Arrilliga-Andreessen.

Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen. Credit: Vicki Thompson

Philanthropy in her Blood

Laura Arrilliga-Andreessen grew up with a knack for the business of philanthropy. A native to Palo Alto, Ms. Arrilliga-Andreessen got the giving-bug at a young age as she watched both her parents, John Arrillaga Sr. and Frances C. Arrillaga, expand their own philanthropic foundations. It was really seeing how her mother’s volunteer work influenced their community that Ms. Arrilliga-Andreessen realized the importance of philanthropy.

“It was the first time I really understood how blessed my family was with resources and how it was our responsibility to share them,” she said in an interview with Barron’s.

With the support of her family, Ms. Arrilliga-Andreessen attended Stanford University for a BA (1992) and MA (1999) in Art History, as well as an MA (1998) in Education. Along with these degrees, she holds an MBA (1997) from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Upon graduating, Laura Arrilliga-Andreessen took on two professionals that have remained close to her heart to this day: educating at Stanford University, and giving back. At Stanford, she has developed and taught a number of classes that centered around philanthropy and leadership. With the school, she founded Stanford PACS (Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society).

Her knowledge as an educator is displayed in this video, where Ms. Arrilliga-Andreessen addresses how influential the media has been on the upcoming generation of philanthropists.

In her own time, Laura Arrilliga-Andreessen has not only joined several philanthropic foundations, but founded many of them.

Passion for Giving Back

One of her most substantial projects is the Laura Arrillaga-Andreesen Foundation (LAAF). The foundation uses technology to globally educate and advance the field of philanthropy through free resources and programs mainly offered online. Ms. Arrillaga-Andreesen has pushed forward a number of initiatives designed to expand the knowledge of others. Giving 2.0: The MOOC (massive, open, online course) yields from her New York Times Bestselling novel, Giving 2.0. The novel inspires those of all ages and background to give back in any way they can. The online program takes the message of the book and puts it in an easy to digest video form.

The Giving Circles Fund is an initiative that pools the resources of “other passionate individuals to give a collective grant.” The idea was a product of her work as founder and chairman of SV2 (Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund) from 1998 to 2008.

She and her husband, Marc Andreessen, came together to found the Marc and Laura Andreessen Foundation. The foundation’s primary cause is to help build grants for other Bay Area nonprofits. They strive to “elevate the work of nonprofits” and create more access and inclusion to nonprofits who otherwise would have been overlooked.

For her work, Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen has been presented several philanthropy awards—including the Henry Crown Fellow of Aspen Institute and the Jacqueline Kennedy Award for Women Leadership. But Ms. Arrillaga-Andreessen isn’t in the business of philanthropy for the glamour of it all. All she wants in return is for her work to inspire others to give back and make a difference in this world.