August 1, 2010; Source: San Francisco Examiner | We who write for the Nonprofit Quarterly have interesting and eclectic backgrounds in journalism, one might say. This author, for example, started his writing career in college as a rock music reviewer Fusion, Rolling Stone’s long forgotten East Coast competitor, where he was an acolyte of West Coast bands such as the Quicksilver Messenger Service and, of course, the Grateful Dead.
For some time, the Dead were ensconced in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, with iconic bandleader Jerry Garcia at its helm. Garcia died of a heart attack in 1995 while seeking treatment at a drug rehab facility. Since then, Garcia has been honored annually with festivals and events, including this year’s eighth annual “Jerry Day,” which coincides with his August 1 birthday.
One of the philanthropic accomplishments of the Dead is the Rex Foundation, which the Examiner says has raised $8.6 million since it was founded in 1983 to help people in the arts, sciences, and education. The Dead were the foundation’s major source of income for years, but with Garcia’s passing, the band faded and so did the foundation’s revenue stream.
However, this year, the San Francisco Giants have scheduled Jerry Garcia Tribute Night on August 9th at AT&T Park (with surviving Dead band members performing the national anthem and during the seventh inning stretch), and part of the proceeds will go to the foundation. The Rex Foundation isn’t big and a chunk of its revenues obviously go to benefit concerts and events, but its $105,000 in grants in 2009 were eclectic and interesting [PDF], to groups ranging from Music in Schools Today (providing music-in-education programs for 15,000 Bay Area school pupils) to the International Accountability Project (working on environmental and social standards in international financial institutions such as the World Bank). Interesting and eclectic, just like Jerry Garcia’s Grateful Dead.—Rick Cohen