SVCF's new grantmaking strategies

SVCF's new grantmaking strategies

Not long ago, SVCF embarked on a strategic planning process. Guided by input from nonprofit and community partners, our staff, board members and donors, we forged a new roadmap for our organization’s future, one that strives to create equity for people historically affected by racial injustice, a stronger community and a culture of effective philanthropy. We also outlined the strategies that would help us get there. Our nonprofit partners were integral in helping us identify ways that we could better serve our communities.

Gina Dalma
Gina Dalma

We heard that SVCF needed to be knitted more closely into the fabric of our community, provide more flexible grants to a broader set of organizations, streamline our grantmaking processes and deepen the work that drives systemic change in our region. And we listened. We began to transform our work in 2020 – as we launched headfirst into responding to back-to-back crises, we were simultaneously beginning to live out our new direction. Today, SVCF is formally announcing our Community Action Grants program, one of our responses to recommendations about how SVCF can better engage with our region’s dynamic nonprofit community.

New grantmaking programs

Using a racial justice and equity lens, the Community Action Grants Program supports organizations that foster greater creativity and help build community and power to promote a just, equitable and inclusive Silicon Valley. The program includes two parts, the Community Catalyst Fund and the Capacity-Building and Leadership Investment Fund:

  • The Community Catalyst Fund focuses on community-building and movement-building. To streamline access to funding for nonprofits, the Community Catalyst Fund offers a simplified application process and opportunities to apply for general operating support grants.
    • Community-Building Grants invest in organizations working in targeted areas, including arts/culture, environment, health, media/journalism, immigration, neighborhoods, faith and civic participation. Under the Community Catalyst Fund umbrella, RFPs for Arts & CultureFaith, and Neighborhoods are now available for review on SVCF’s website. All three RFPs open this month.
    • Movement-Building Grants provide support to organizations that are employing multiple approaches to achieving systemic change on issues of racial and economic justice, such as grassroots organizing, investing in communications and advocating for policy change.
  • The Capacity-Building & Leadership Investment Fund will invest in BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) leaders and their organizations to increase their effectiveness and sustainability. Grantees will also join a cohort for intensive learning and networking to deepen their nonprofits’ role in movement- and power-building.

Our Strategic Initiatives

And finally, this spring we will launch our Strategic Initiatives in housing for extremely low-income and very low-income individuals, early childhood development, and financial security – three key impact areas that we believe will drive systemic change in our communities. These initiatives will each involve a grantmaking program, research and policy agendas and increased efforts to bring our communities together to address our region’s biggest challenges.

Moving forward, together

Clearly, the events of 2020 catapulted us into the implementation of our new strategic plan, and we are humbled, honored and inspired to be serving our community through multiple crises. We fundraised for pandemic response, racial justice causes and wildfire relief. We collaborated with our community partners to deploy resources quickly to those most in need. We streamlined the grant application process to reduce the burdens on nonprofit applicants and grantees. We refocused our work on helping communities facing challenging circumstances that are compounded by existing inequities. We deepened our community relationships and raised the voices of local leaders. In short, 2020 reaffirmed our new strategic direction, and we are only just getting started.

Please know that we are committed to growing alongside you; the changes in our strategies are new and, most importantly, ever-evolving. Our team is appreciative of your patience and open to your feedback as we continue to develop, adapt and transform our practices to best serve you and our region. We look forward to our continuing partnership in 2021 and the years to come.