Donors advocate for immigrants and train the civic leaders of tomorrow

Two Silicon Valley Community Foundation donors support social causes close to their hearts and work with SVCF to elevate their impact

Advocating for immigrants and training the civic leaders of tomorrow

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 many of her 34 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.

“Julia, a Bolivian immigrant, dedicated her life to caring for my entire family,” Younger says. “I call her my ‘third parent’ because she poured so much of her heart and soul into us, and I honor her with my dedication to the immigrant community in return.”

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 those researching 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. Last year, Younger took things a step further.

After volunteering at a family detention center near the U.S.-Mexico border, she was inspired to learn more about housing refugees coming from the border. “Anne Im, SVCF’s immigration program officer, was able to put me in touch with organizations that could help,” she says.

To top things off, Younger recently decided to lend support to SVCF’s strategic grantmaking work related to immigration. “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, now 10, 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 aw

Sandy Chau is on a mission to empower Asian American communities through mentorship

Sandy Chau’s vision of building a more civically engaged Asian American community began more than 50 years ago, when he arrived in the United States as a foreign student at UC Berkeley and saw firsthand the challenges and obstacles that first-generation immigrants often encounter.

“It’s a big concern, how to assimilate into American society,” says Chau, a longtime venture capitalist and real estate investor who focuses his philanthropic efforts on social justice issues. “It takes determination to successfully adjust your lifestyle and the viewpoints of your heritage so you can merge into the new mainstream.”

As the founder of what’s now the Asian American MultiTechnology Association, Chau first realized that the principles that helped his networking organization thrive — distribution of knowledge, leadership and mentorship — could also work to engage and encourage civic leadership.

“The first step is usually focused on teaching the least able, who need the most amount of assistance,” he says. “Later, it’s more effective to train people who can then teach their own communities through mentorship.”

Civic Leadership USA, the organization that Chau founded to empower and organize Asian American communities, aims to use that principle to create a national network of community-minded organizations and leaders. “It’s not only about Asian Americans being able to receive their fair share of rights, in return for contributing their fair share to the community. It’s also about being good citizens and supporting the fabric of society by serving on the civic level,” Chau says.

Through SVCF, Civic Leadership USA has made a substantial capacity-building grant to the Asian Pacific American Leadership Institute (APALI), which works to build the next generation of Asian and Pacific Islander leaders.

“We’ve been in the field training civic leaders for 20 years, so we had been funding APALI in a modest way but wanted to build up its capacity,” says Civic Leadership Executive Director Anthony Ng. “We wanted to be there for the long haul, so APALI can create strategic ways to train members across the country to develop local and regional resources, become community leaders, and even run for office.”

Their philanthropy advisor at SVCF, Linda Nguyen — coincidentally an alumna of APALI — has worked closely with Chau and Ng to create a specific plan for the multiyear grant.

“We feel that it’s the right strategy and that we’ve found the right partner,” Ng says. “When we met with the foundation, they even pointed us to different resources and let us know who’s doing similar work in the field, so we don’t have to do the battle alone.”