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SVCF 2019 2019 Annual Report
Our Work

One Donor’s Path to Supporting Immigration Issues

By Sam Mittelsteadt

Charitable giving is a family tradition for Kelly Younger, a social worker and philanthropist who grew up in Menlo Park.

Every Thanksgiving, Younger’s grandfather gave his grandchildren $40, with instructions to give it away before New Year’s. And she grew up watching her parents give to a ministry for disabled people and volunteer their time at foundations that supported local schools.

“This helped me see that having money isn’t for the purpose of acquiring fancy cars or a certain lifestyle,” she says. “The purpose was to help people with it.”

For years, Younger has channeled her resources in an effort to help immigrants, specifically in honor of one who played an essential role in her life.

“My mother became disabled in a car accident and, because of her limitations, when my parents discovered my mom was pregnant with twins, it was clear they would need help,” Younger says. “A Bolivian immigrant was a live-in caregiver for the entire family. I call her my ‘third parent,’ because she poured so much of her heart and soul into us.”

Younger’s interest in immigration and social justice has guided her charitable giving. In 2010, she established a scholarship at Menlo-Atherton High School, putting a priority on applicants who were immigrants, the children of immigrants or researchers of social justice. Every year, the scholarship, now managed by Silicon Valley Community Foundation, gives up to 12 students $2,000 each for any type of higher education.

In 2018, Younger took things a step further. After volunteering at a family detention center near the U.S.-Mexico border, she wanted to learn more about housing refugees coming from the border and how she could lend support to SVCF’s strategic grantmaking work related to immigration. Anne Im, SVCF’s immigration program officer, was able to put Younger in touch with organizations that could help.

“I got to a place where I wanted to increase my giving, but I didn’t want my entire life to be taken up by philanthropy. SVCF has a grant officer whose job is to research organizations that support immigrants and designate funds to those organizations, which means I don’t have to. It’s great to be able to trust that someone else is doing that good work.”

Younger hopes she can instill the same charitable instincts in her daughter that her parents and grandparents instilled in her. “As my father says, if you have extra money, what are you going to do with it? It makes sense to give it away in your lifetime to a cause that you care about.”

This story originally appeared in the 2019 SVCF Spring magazine.


scholarships each year for immigrants, children of immigrants or researchers of social justice


provided each year in financial aid
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Supporting the Civic Leaders of Tomorrow