At the awards ceremony, 63 fellows from the Bay Area marched into the ballroom to the applause of donors, including San Francisco civic leaders, Silicon Valley executives and venture capitalists. For those few minutes, one could feel hopeful about the future of U.S. science.

The financial need is far greater than any foundation could meet, yet organizations such as ARCS may offer at least a temporary solution until robust economic growth returns. The foundation’s work shows there is a widespread interest, particularly among the wealthy, in supporting science—especially research that may one day save lives or lead to a new technology around which they might build a business.

But these individuals are also faced with a wide range of worthy choices for their money. The key is to encourage them to support scientific research. ARCS does it by connecting individual donors to the young scientists they support. Why can’t this matchmaking be done on a national scale through the creation of an exchange? Mr. Levitt’s fellow Nobelist at Stanford, markets guru Al Roth, could help design it.