Immigration and More: What's SVCF Been Up to Lately?

Earlier this year, we looked at the explosion of giving by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which has become the go-to intermediary for many tech donors in Silicon Valley since its creation just a decade ago, as well as other philanthropists in the Bay Area.

The vast bulk of SVCF's grants are donor-directed. But it also has its own agenda and grantmaking programs. And now that we’re midway through 2017, we wanted to see what SVCF has been up to lately. 

An Even Stronger Focus on Immigration  

Immigration is one of the hottest topics right now at SVCF. Although support for immigration services at SVCF is nothing new (it’s been funding in this area since its founding), this funder has been on an urgent footing with its immigration work since Donald Trump took office, giving grants for a range of activities. In early May, SVCF announced the availability of new funding for nonprofits providing immigration services in the region. CEO and President Emmett D. Carson said in a May press release, “At a time when uncertainties about federal immigration policies are running high, this new funding opportunity will help organizations offer vital services, support and information to immigrants who are vulnerable or discriminated against.” SVCF’s support is aimed at helping San Mateo and Santa Clara immigrants learn English, become American citizens, access legal services, and find economic opportunities. More than a third of the residents of these counties are immigrants, and over two-thirds of children here are born to immigrants. In an RFP that opened for applications on May 1, the foundation said it was looking for things like “know your rights” campaigns, preparedness plans for families, digital security projects and harassment prevention.  

Last week, in new funding that tracks with these aims, SVCF made two grants of $100,000 each to groups on the front lines of work to protect immigrants. One grant to Pangea Legal Services will improve a 24-hour hotline and technology platform to help immigrants faced with detention and deportation. The other, to Upwardly Global, will seek to counter anti-immigrant bias with a new messaging campaign and encourage Silicon Valley companies to hire immigrants. 

SVCF has also been talking about a lot of immigration issues on its podcast and on its blog. Clearly, this is the time to get involved with this foundation if you work in the field of immigration.

Bringing Technology to Education

As part of SVCF’s anniversary grant program, which we highlighted a few months ago, SVCF set out to engage local causes over the course of the year. Most recently, this focus has shifted over to education.

Silicon Valley is built on technology, so it’s no surprise that new education grants have tech-heavy themes. Anniversary grants of $100,000 each were recently awarded to a couple of innovative educational initiatives designed for low-income students in the region. One of the grants funds the Redwood City Library Foundation’s Bridging the Digital Divide Initiative to increase internet access for low-income students for homework purposes. The other new education anniversary grant is going to ACE Charter Schools to support four schools that serve students in low-income San Jose neighborhoods who have struggled in traditional schools. SVCF’s money is funding an app to help these kids get into a college-ready mindset by setting goals, tracking progress and celebrating milestones.

Learn more about SVCF’s anniversary grants here. Two awards for building strong communities will be announced in August, and civic engagement grants will be announced in October.

Wide-Open Opportunities for Community Design

There’s always a lot of moving parts with SVCF's work, but a final one that we’ll mention is the opportunity for new community design projects. SVCF offered a one-time opportunity for community-building ideas in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, although the deadline for applications was last week.

The opportunity was quite open, as the funder didn't have anything terribly specific in mind, but rather wanted to see what groups would come up with. It will be interesting to see where these grants end up. 

Related: Explosion: The Latest Evidence That Silicon Valley Giving Is Going Totally Nuts