Update from Interim President Greg Avis: May 15

Much of my work in the eleven days since I joined the community foundation has been dedicated to the issues confronting us at this moment in time. I wish, however, to take a moment to share some of my reflections on the compelling mission-related work that is happening every day here at the community foundation.

While circumstances surrounding my re-engagement with SVCF were unexpected, I jumped into the opportunity at SVCF because of the community foundation’s critical role as a force for good right here in our community. It has been amazing to return to this special organization and see a highly talented staff that is truly dedicated to making meaningful positive impact. I’ve also had the opportunity to meet or talk with many donors and some of our partners in the field in Silicon Valley and beyond. I know I speak for all of SVCF in that it is an honor to work with those addressing some of the greatest social and civic challenges on the frontlines every day. Our donors are some of the most innovative and generous philanthropists today, and I’ve been very impressed by the commitment to a range of issues shown by all of those that I’ve had the opportunity to connect with so far.

It was an honor for SVCF to co-host Decision 2018: The Race for Governor, a debate that was televised live to more than half a million viewers statewide. SVCF has come a long way since its launch in 2007. We are proud that we were able to provide Californians the opportunity to hear from their next governor on important policies that impact our state, the world’s fifth largest economy. SVCF advocates for vital policy reforms to increase housing affordability, expand access to early childhood education, improve our immigration system – all of which were discussed substantively during the debate. As a leader in philanthropy, SVCF will continue to engage Sacramento and our next governor to push for policies that strengthen our communities.

I’ve been impressed by the tenacity of our staff and their ability to focus on the core work, despite the challenges we all face.  Here is a sampling of other recent accomplishments:

  • We recently made 118 scholarship awards totaling $573,000 to more than 100 deserving high school and college students.
  • We made a $70,000 advocacy grant to Yes on Regional Measure 3 – Keeping the Bay Area Moving in support the Bay Area traffic relief campaign, which aims to help extend BART service, improve ferry service, and accelerate planning for a second Transbay rail crossing.
  • We co-presented the 19th annual Conference on Charitable Giving with Stanford University’s Office of Planned Giving, drawing more than 200 attendees to address topics ranging from charitable strategies for business owners to how climate change is impacting philanthropy.

These accomplishments are at the core of who we are as an organization. It’s important that we take a moment to acknowledge these contributions and highlight the impressive work I’ve had the privilege to witness in my first two weeks.

In the days and weeks ahead, I’ll continue to proactively connect with even more of our partners and donors in the SVCF family. Addressing our recent challenges will continue to be our priority, but the SVCF leadership team and staff and the SVCF Board remain focused on our ultimate objective – having SVCF be a leading catalyst for philanthropy and a place where people can work together to solve the challenges our communities face.

Warm regards,

Greg Avis

Interim President