The Koret Foundation, along with the Koret Fund, is a private foundation based in San Francisco, California. The foundation was organized in 1978 by Joseph and Stephanie Koret, along with Tad Taube, their family friend and Chief Executive Officer of their women's sportswear company, Koret of California, Inc. The foundation, endowed initially with the Korets' clothing fortune, primarily supports education, arts, hunger and nutrition and culture, and Jewish causes in the San Francisco Bay Area, and economic development in the state of Israel.
Joseph Koret, Russian-American Jew, was born in 1900 and immigrated to the United States the next year. He grew up poor in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Koret moved to San Francisco at age 17, began working for his father's men's clothing company, and soon married his first wife, Stephanie Shapiro. In 1937 the two founded Koret of California. The company's greatest success arose from its invention in 1961 of Koratron, a new process for permanent press fabrics that was widely adopted in the clothing industry, eventually earning patent license revenues from more than 400 manufacturers that were far greater than the company's clothing sales.
Due to a series of unsuccessful corporate acquisitions the company was near bankruptcy in 1973, when the Korets convinced their friend, Tad Taube, to take over as CEO. Taube began increasing their fortune through further company growth and successful real estate investment. In the late 1970s Taube convinced the Korets, who had no children, to donate their estate to charity. Stephanie Koret died in 1978. After a series of expansions, divestitures, and a public offering, Koret of California was sold in 1979 to its first patent licensee, Levi Strauss Company. The company was spun off by Levi's in a LBO in 1986, and after further corporate changes is now an Oakland, California-based subsidiary of Kellwood Company, distributing mid-priced clothing to department stores throughout the United States.
Joseph Koret married a second time to his then-nurse Susan. They ran the foundation together with Taube until Joseph Koret's death in 1982, at which time Susan Koret became chairperson for life.
The foundation's assets grew from $172 million in 1990 to approximately $400 million in 2008.
- Alexandra J. Wall (2005-01-14). "Catalyst for Change: Foundation marks 25 years with in-depth history of organization". Jewish News Weekly of Northern California.
- Sarah Lorenz (1991). "Koret of California, Inc.". International Directory of Company Histories, Volume 62.
- "Executive Profile:Susan Koret". Business Week.
- Daniel Judah Elazar (1995). Community and Polity: The Organizational Dynamics of American Jewry. Jewish Publication Society. ISBN 978-0-8276-0565-7.
- koretfoundation.org - official website