2020 Annual Report

Creating a More Equitable Silicon Valley

In 2020, a global pandemic upended all our lives, the murder of George Floyd ignited a wave of racial justice movements, and wildfires devastated significant swaths of our state. We faced a difficult election season and crucial census count. So much was at stake.

As a community foundation, SVCF knows the strengths and the needs of our local communities, and we translate this knowledge into strategies that influence and inspire our donors and partners to act. We work collaboratively in our community to pursue equity and deliver support for those who face the greatest challenges because of systemic injustices. And when disasters arise, we swiftly convene with our partners — including other community foundations — to pool capital and drive resources to those most in need.

Last year, in concert with our partners, we raised $65 million in COVID response funds, supporting hundreds of thousands of families, businesses and nonprofit organizations across the 10-county Bay Area region. Thanks to our donors, in 2020, nonprofit organizations received $1.95 billion — and $524 million of that stayed right here in the Bay Area, helping local organizations do vital work. Stories of those inspiring individuals, organizations and partnerships are featured here in our annual report.

We are very proud of all we accomplished during very challenging times. We extend our sincere gratitude to our donors, community partners and staff. Our work is not possible without you.


Profile: von Emster Family

The von Emster Family

Beth von Emster and her husband, Kurt, increased their annual grantmaking by more than 275% in 2020 as community need soared.

Profile: Karen Law

Karen Law

As an “investor in a smarter, better-connected future,” Karen Law is committed to building and strengthening communities, one connection at a time. And her donor advised fund at SVCF helps make that happen.

Profile: LinkedIn
linkedin employee at table with others


The company sharpened its mission of addressing opportunity gaps for job seekers in 2020.


The von Emster Family

Beth von Emster and her husband, Kurt, increased their annual grantmaking by more than 275% in 2020 as community need soared.

Karen Law

As an “investor in a smarter, better-connected future,” Karen Law is committed to building and strengthening communities, one connection at a time. And her donor advised fund at SVCF helps make that happen.


The company sharpened its mission of addressing opportunity gaps for job seekers in 2020.


Delivering Help to Farmworkers on the North Coast

Ayudando Latinos A Soñar provides food, personal protective equipment and support to Bay Area farmworkers during pandemic.

+ Show More

Feeding Families in Need

Food insecurity was already a problem in Silicon Valley before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and when it did, demand skyrocketed.

“At the main pantry site alone, we were up 300 percent over normal,” says Bart Charlow, CEO of Samaritan House, an anti-poverty organization in San Mateo County.

Money from SVCF’s Regional Response Fund and Nonprofit Emergency Fund has helped many area groups like Samaritan House, Second Harvest of Silicon Valley and The Health Trust meet the rising need.

“[SVCF was] one of the first to invite proposals for emergency COVID response,” says Michele Lew, CEO of The Health Trust. “When people who are hungry or homebound call you, it’s difficult to say no. We are eternally grateful for the fast and flexible funding that enables us to get meals to those who are hungry.”

+ Show More

Investing in Black-Led Organizations

California is home to the sixth largest Black population in the country, yet trails the nation in funding infrastructure for Black-led organizations. The California Black Freedom Fund looks to change that.

This five-year, $100 million initiative will fund Black-led movements and organizations statewide with the investments and resources needed to fight systemic and institutional racism. The fund is a collaboration among many partners, including more than 20 foundations; SVCF provides administrative support and fiscal management.

The fund is the first state-based fund of its kind and aims to support grassroots advocates and community leaders who are transforming our region, our state and our world. Nearly $9 million in general operating grants has been awarded to 74 Black-led groups across California.

+ Show More

Extending a Lifeline to the Homeless Community

WeHOPE offers critical services, like handwashing stations and virtual medical assessments, to unhoused residents.

+ Show More

Rallying for the Region

In a county where one out of every 10 families lives in poverty, nonprofits and foundations are faced with a double-edged sword: They have more people to support and fewer people with the means to offer support.

“Solano County is the poster child for inequity in the Bay Area,” says Dr. Lori Allio, director of strategic partnerships and advancement at Solano Community Foundation. With COVID-19, the need only grew, so when SVCF reached out to offer a partnership and grant funds, Allio says, it was quite literally a lifesaver. The help was made possible through SVCF’s Regional Response Fund, which gave SVCF the ability to channel donated relief funds to core service agencies — including Solano Community Foundation — in each of the 10 Bay Area counties.

The funding from SVCF resulted in Solano Community Foundation making 106 grants to help local residents, for a total of $1.1 million. Before that, its COVID-19 relief funding resources had equaled five grants totaling $50,000.

+ Show More

Keeping Residents in Their Homes

As it has done for so many existing issues, the pandemic has heightened concerns about housing insecurity. Job furloughs and closures have left so many people unable to earn wages that an estimated 43,000 households in Santa Clara County alone are at risk of eviction.

As part of the COVID-19 Coronavirus Regional Response Fund, SVCF supporting organization Destination: Home is working with partners to provide rapid financial assistance and resources to county residents at risk of homelessness because of coronavirus-related disruptions.

“We help with metrics, data, communication, strategy and fundraising, but it’s not any one entity — it’s literally dozens of public-sector partners and more than 100 community-based nonprofit organizations,” says Destination: Home CEO Jennifer Loving.

By February 2021, the COVID-19 financial assistance program administered by Destination: Home and its many partners had provided $36 million in direct financial assistance to about 15,000 low-income households in Santa Clara County.

+ Show More

Making Childcare Accessible for Essential Workers

The Boys and Girls Clubs of North San Mateo County transformed one of its clubhouses into a childcare center for essential workers.

+ Show More



Rising to the Challenge of a Global Pandemic

SVCF and its donors pivoted quickly to meet the community needs that were intensified by COVID-19.
Racial Justice

Bringing Equity to the Forefront

SVCF recommitted itself to reducing systemic disparities — and that decision couldn’t have come at a more critical time.

Building a Better Normal

Through the strength of its partnerships, SVCF has been able to increase its positive impact and lay the framework for equitable responses to the pandemic and building back a better Silicon Valley.
Wildfire Relief Fund

Supporting Those Affected by Wildfires

When wildfires struck the Silicon Valley region, SVCF sprang into action.
Civic Participation

Increasing Voter Turnout in an Unprecedented Election

SVCF partners and grantees came together to promote civic engagement in the historic 2020 election.

Leading Local Counties to the State’s Highest Response Rates

An early and targeted census initiative helps ensure residents are counted accurately and have a voice in the community.

Five Things We Learned

Just as it did for so many other organizations around the globe, 2020 required SVCF to respond almost overnight as the COVID-19 pandemic caused community need to soar and deepened existing disparities. SVCF staff members compiled a list of the five most important takeaways learned from the organization’s first several months of response efforts.

Adapt quickly and be flexible.

It was a “top-down, inside-out necessity” for staff and internal processes to adapt so SVCF could provide a swift and agile emergency response and get funds into the community quickly, staff noted. A key aspect was partnering with donors and colleagues to encourage increased, accelerated and more flexible grantmaking to benefit the local nonprofit community. A corollary to adapting quickly: Imagine far-fetched scenarios and develop contingency plans in case those come to pass.

Next >
Eliminate obstacles.

To help things move faster, SVCF quickly streamlined its grant application and selection processes and reduced the amount of information grantees were required to report. Many donors appreciated that SVCF built quick, easy ways for people to give to their community through giving guides and COVID-19 and wildfire response funds. SVCF’s deep connections in the community helped make the path to giving easier and obstacle-free for donors.

Next >
Embrace the virtual and be inclusive.

As much as SVCF staff value meeting with partners in person, they immediately embraced the shift to virtual convenings, board meetings and donor conversations — while recognizing that people have varying levels of comfort with technology. “We had to make sure we were inclusive in our facilitation of meetings and conversations,” staff noted. That included one simple but powerful change: Recording most events so people can watch later.

Next >
Acknowledge our shared humanity.

2020 presented uncharted territory, with a confluence of stressful and complex events. Pretending things were “business as usual” did not make sense. So, whether they were working with those who represented corporations, donors, nonprofits or local government — SVCF staff acknowledged the shared humanity of the unusual times. “If someone’s kids or pets are joining a video call, or it takes someone a little longer to respond,” staff noted, “we can all extend grace, patience and acceptance.”

Next >
Identify allies with shared goals.

SVCF’s existing community relationships helped it spring into action quickly, partnering with local governments to support their strategies and community funding mechanisms. That’s the thing about enormous crises like COVID-19 or structural racism, staff noted, “you have to work together, and we need to be allies to move forward.”

Next >


SVCF continues to advocate for our communities’ needs beyond the pandemic. We are working with local officials on equitable distribution of federal relief funds, supporting local organizations that are preparing for redistricting, and investing in local leaders of color who are building power within historically marginalized groups.

We are lifting up and centering our nonprofit and community partners — and those with lived experience — to ensure that their voices will guide these efforts. New initiatives such as the LatinXCEL Fund and Equity Forward, begun in 2021, bolster our ability to serve our community.

We are deepening our relationships with donors and community partners to galvanize resources and solutions that will create an equitable, economically secure and vibrant future for all in Silicon Valley.