Remembering Joyce Stupski

July 20, 2021


With heavy hearts, we announce the passing of our founder, Joyce Stupski. Joyce was not only a visionary leader who motivated us to dream big alongside our grantee partners; she cared deeply about us as people, her foundation family. She inspired us with her desire to go against convention to create the Stupski Foundation as a spend down that plans to invest all the Foundation’s assets by 2029 to make the biggest impact in the communities she called home, the Bay Area and Hawaiʻi. As we grieve the loss of our trailblazing founder, we celebrate her remarkable life and her legacy of supporting innovative change in our communities. 

Originally from Naperville, Illinois, Joyce was a voracious reader and an accomplished organist. She studied music at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago and received a Bachelor of Arts in Music; and she earned a Master of Arts and teaching credential as a reading specialist from Indiana University. She moved to San Francisco to teach children with special needs in the San Francisco Unified School District. The connections she made with her students left a major imprint on her and eventually fueled her passion for supporting public education through philanthropy. Years later, Joyce’s entrepreneurial spirit led her to build and lead the management communications firm Pringle and Associates. After several decades leading the business, she decided to devote her time fully to philanthropy with her husband, Larry. In 1996, the couple co-founded the Stupski Foundation, which focused on developing public school leaders’ skills to drive systematic changes to help close achievement gaps. In partnership with Larry, who drove the early work of the foundation, Joyce applied her passion for working with students and families, her love of the arts, and her entrepreneurial acumen to the couple’s unique approach to philanthropy.

Joyce remained devoted to her philanthropic work throughout the last chapter of her life. After Larry’s passing in 2013, Joyce converted the Foundation’s funds in 2014 into a spend down to realize the couple’s shared commitment to their communities and to provide people with resources today to address urgent challenges in food security, postsecondary education, early brain development, and serious illness care. Under her leadership, the Foundation has invested over $155 million across these issue areas, impacting hundreds of thousands of peoples’ lives. Joyce provided us, as members of her foundation family, with important insight at each stage of the spend down. Along the unfamiliar terrain of spending down, we often engaged with her on challenges we encountered. Without fail, she would recommend an approach that would challenge us to pause and reflect on our work, and she consistently reminded us to keep the real people we sought to serve at the center of our grantmaking. Her constant refrain to our staff and our grantee partners was to dream big and be bold to translate those dreams into reality. 

By taking the unconventional step to spend down by 2029, Joyce hoped Stupski’s impact would live on long after she was gone, and the Foundation closed its doors. Together with our community partners, we remain committed to fulfilling Joyce’s vision for the spend down and living into our shared mission to ensure that every member of our community enjoys a life marked by dignity, connectedness, and caring. We are honored to continue Joyce’s legacy and have deep gratitude for all she made possible in our lives and in the lives of so many people in our communities.