Academy front exterior and concourse

July 2, 2024

In light of recent media reports about the California Academy of Sciences’s financial challenges, I am writing to provide you with an organizational update.

First and foremost, the Academy remains as committed as ever to our mission to regenerate the natural world through science, learning, and collaboration. Biodiversity science remains at the heart of our work, and our unwavering commitment to this research is as strong today as it was when the Academy launched 171 years ago.

Unfortunately, like many other cultural nonprofit institutions in the Bay Area and beyond, the Academy is still recovering from the financial impacts of the pandemic as we work to solve a structural budget deficit. We had hoped to resolve this matter by now, but a number of factors have led to revenue shortfalls. These include fewer tourists coming to San Francisco, higher-than-expected medical benefit costs, and other increasing labor expenses. Therefore, it is critical that we take steps to align our expenses with revenues to ensure the long-term health of the Academy and the exceptional work of this 171-year-old research institution and museum.

With that objective in mind, we are implementing a range of strategic cost reductions to close the budget gap. These reductions prioritize delivering on our mission while minimizing impacts on our staff, volunteers, visitors, members, donors, and community partners. Impacted areas include some outward-facing education programming, live planetarium presentations, and our Institute for Biodiversity Science and Sustainability. Unfortunately, we will experience some staff reductions—approximately 5% or less of our total workforce—a result that is very painful for the entire organization. We are providing a comprehensive severance package to those impacted.

The Academy’s leaders deeply appreciate the hard work and dedication of our entire staff as we’ve navigated these challenging times. We are also immensely grateful for our generous community, including museum guests, volunteers, members, and donors—people like you.

Your support ensures that we will be able to continue leading the way with path-breaking biodiversity science while inspiring more than one million visitors a year for generations to come.

More than ever, thank you for your ongoing support of the Academy.


Scott D. Sampson, PhD
Executive Director
William R. and Gretchen B. Kimball Chair
California Academy of Sciences

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