Investing in nonprofit leaders and building capacity in our region

Investing in nonprofit leaders and building capacity in our region

SVCF has a history of engaging in capacity-building programming through past initiatives such as the Community Leadership Project and the Nonprofit Investment Program. With lessons learned from these previous initiatives, as well as data and feedback collected throughout our COVID grantmaking phase and from our Community Advisory Council, we developed the Capacity-Building and Leadership Investment Program (CBLI) to strengthen organizations serving San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

“The capacity grant allowed us to expand our front-of-house and back-of-house staff, and it has helped us to be able to go wider with the services we provide – and at the same time, deeper,” said Shana Peete, CEO of the Center for Excellence in Nonprofits (CEN). CEN is a longtime SVCF partner and has most recently received a CBLI grant from the foundation.

There are two overarching tenets of the CBLI program, which define SVCF’s view on capacity-building:

  1. Adopting a sustainability mindset: Strengthening capacity and leadership goes beyond supporting effectiveness in program and service delivery; it takes into account the potential for an organization to sustain and build upon its work in the future. While supporting specific program and service effectiveness makes an impact in a shorter term, the sustainability mindset is critical to creating the long-lasting systemic change we are striving for.
  2. Listening to the needs of nonprofits: We acknowledge that nonprofits can best identify their own capacity and leadership needs. The CBLI team aims to listen and hear what our nonprofit partners are telling us.

In addition to these tenets, the program also adheres to the same priorities that SVCF has identified for all our grantmaking. These include prioritizing investments for organizations that:

  • Have operating budgets under $1 million
  • Are led by people of color
  • Serve communities in which philanthropy has historically underinvested
  • Build power by raising the voices of the communities they serve
  • Can articulate their commitment to issues of racial equity and social justice

The CBLI program makes investments in our two-county region through two strategies:​

Strategy 1: A year-round grantmaking fund to support organizations that demonstrate a sustainability mindset.

SVCF makes quarterly funding decisions. Organizations may submit a request for investment at any time during the year.

Strategy 2: Offering learning and networking opportunities to support organizations on their own journeys to prioritize racial equity and social justice.

SVCF offers opportunities such as workshops focusing on implicit bias, led by the National Training Institute on Race and Equity out of Morehouse College, that are open to anyone serving our two-county region. SVCF also offers activities designed for specific groups of nonprofits, such as our grantee groups.

We are excited to learn from our inaugural year of the Capacity-Building and Leadership Investment program so we can continue building up smaller organizations that share SVCF’s goals of advancing equity and reducing systemic disparities. Together, we can create an inclusive Silicon Valley where all residents can thrive.