PLATINUM2024

California Academy of Sciences

San Francisco, CA   |  www.calacademy.org

Mission

Regenerate the natural world through science, learning, and collaboration.

Notes from the nonprofit

The California Academy of Sciences is a renowned scientific and educational institution dedicated to exploring and explaining the natural world and addressing the challenge of sustainability. Based in San Francisco, it is home to an aquarium, planetarium and natural history museum as well as innovative scientific research and education programs—all under one living roof. This unique combination allows visitors to explore the depths of a Philippine coral reef, climb into the canopy of a Costa Rican rainforest, and fly to the outer reaches of the Universe in a single day. Along the way, thousands of charismatic live animals and a team of fascinating scientists and presenters bring the Academy’s exhibits and shows to life and make each visit unique. The Academy is also home to nearly 46 million scientific specimens from around the world—essential tools for comparative studies on the history and future of life on Earth.

Ruling year info

1926

Executive Director

Dr. Scott Sampson

Main address

55 Music Concourse Drive Golden Gate Park

San Francisco, CA 94118 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

94-1156258

NTEE code info

Science, General (includes Interdisciplinary Scientific Activities) (U20)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

In these turbulent times, the world needs trusted beacons to guide us toward a better future—beacons of knowledge, inspiration, and solutions. The California Academy of Sciences is rising to that need, providing both hope and critical information to an increasingly global audience.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Organizational Summary

As the world’s greenest museum, the California Academy of Sciences’ commitment to sustainability is reflected in everything from the building’s innovative architecture to its daily operations, public programs, and exhibits. The Academy is home to more than 38,000 live animals in Steinhart Aquarium, one of the world’s largest all-digital planetariums, immersive exhibits, and one of the most important research collections in the world, including nearly 46 million scientific specimens.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of youth served on Academy for All field trips.

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

in 2023, 102,500 guests from 1,020 schools across California attended the Academy on a field trip

Number of new specimens added to Academy collections.

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Every year, some 1.3 million museum guests explore—often hands-on—our specimens and objects in programs and on exhibit.

Number of youth served in Science Action Clubs across 42 states since 2011.

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

in 2023, Science Action Club engaged 3,938 youth and 350 educators through 174 environmental learning clubs, including 79 in California, 85 nationwide, and 10 abroad

Number of views reached for Science and Environmental resources to date.

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Our Science and Environmental Media resources have been accessed by educators in every country around the world.

Number of iNaturalist.org observations reached to date.

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number collective engagements across more than 200 bioGraphic stories.

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Since 2016, bioGraphic stories have been collectively read or watched more than 30 million times and were shared on social media more than 4 million times.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

As a highly trusted scientific, educational, and cultural institution, the Academy touches the hearts and engages the minds of people across the Bay Area, the nation, and the globe. During the next five years, we will leverage our public museum, our scientific discoveries, and our global education and engagement programs to inspire hundreds of millions of people to care for and sustain Earth’s natural wonders, value science and evidence-based thinking, and become champions for practical environmental solutions.

We will carry out our mission through four key strategic areas, including:

1. Explore Life: The Academy’s Institute for Biodiversity Science and Sustainability (IBSS) drives our scientific research—anchored by collections of 46 million specimens, from tiny microbes to massive blue whale skulls. This invaluable “library of life” is helping scientists answer questions about the evolution of species on Earth and threats to their survival—including climate change and habitat destruction.

2. Operate a World Class Living Museum: We inspire our guests experientially with: award-winning Planetarium shows; hands-on learning in the Naturalist Center; interactive Philippine Coral Reef dive shows; and early childhood activities in the Curiosity Grove. Academy for All serves more than 330,000 people each year through free admission days, free and subsidized school field trips, and more. Our onsite STEM education programs engage youth traditionally underrepresented in the sciences with transformative learning experiences.

3. Provide Global Education and Storytelling: With exceptional strengths in media production and science storytelling, the Academy creates and distributes science and environmental media globally, to support widespread science literacy. We
also offer Teacher Professional Development training for K–5 teachers to improve science instruction in underserved communities.

4. Be a Sustainability Leader: The Academy’s impact extends well beyond our museum walls to all corners of the globe. Our work is advancing cutting-edge biological science, influencing environmental policy and practice, and broadening the greater public’s understanding of global sustainability issues.

In 2008, the California Academy of Sciences re-opened in a state-of-the-art building in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park—the only natural history museum to house an aquarium, planetarium, and rainforest all under a living roof. With our research revealing more about the wonders of global ecosystems and the threats they face, Academy scientists are helping translate and share their discoveries through world-class exhibits, programs, and collections.

Our youth education programs include Academy field trips, Junior Scientist Adventure, Careers in Science, Science Action Club, Teen Advocates for Science Communication, K-12 Science & Education Media Lab. Collectively, the programs’ goal is to foster science and environmental literacy and the next generation of sustainability leaders—with a focus on providing educational opportunities for youth with the greatest need.

We also rely on philanthropic partners to sustain our daily work of conducting scientific research and engaging and educating visitors from around the world. Support from donors helps to keep our special initiatives and core operations thriving—and directly supports the visionary scientists, educators, and science communicators who are at the heart of everything we do.

As a leading cultural institution and model citizen of our community, the California Academy of Sciences is committed to lowering the barriers to Academy visits—whether cost, access, language, or culture. Our long-term goal is to ensure that every child in the Bay Area has unencumbered access to science learning experiences at the Academy. We are also building a diverse workforce that includes individuals typically underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback

Financials

California Academy of Sciences
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

California Academy of Sciences

Board of directors
as of 04/09/2024
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Dan Janney

No Affiliation

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 4/30/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 10/12/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.