Civic Participation Grants

Civic Participation

Promoting Greater Civic Participation through Open Government

In a healthy democracy, civic participation is critical. However, the first and only statewide report on civic engagement, which was done in 2004, found that "those who are white, older, affluent, homeowners and highly educated have a disproportionate say in California politics and representation in the civic life of the state." Although the region is diverse, not enough low-income residents and people of color have their voices heard through participation in politics and civic affairs. 

Public decision-making often relies on community input, and yet the people who show up to those sessions - in front of city councils or planning commissions, for example - do not accurately represent the diversity of San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

"Now more than ever, we think people need to be involved in civic life, and so the extent to which we can encourage and support that participation is extremely important," says SVCF's Commuity Impact Officer, Erica Wood. "We would like to see more low-income residents and people of color engage in public deliberation and dialogue, which may necessitate different ways of gathering input."

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Request for Proposals Application

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Nov. 13, 2017 Access session recording

Dec. 15, 2017


SVCF's focus on supporting Silicon Valley nonprofits through this grantmaking strategy was announced in October 2017. The current focus on "Promoting greater civic participation through open government" resulted from an extensive, 18-month review of SVCF's discretionary grantmaking programs.

During the review process in 2016 and 2017, SVCF gathered feedback from diverse constituents and community members, had conversations with stakeholders and subject matter experts and discussed the issues with SVCF's board members. The information gathered through these interactions was analyzed thoroughly, and SVCF's board of directors approved this strategy, along with four others, to guide SVCF's discretionary grantmaking for the next 5-7 years. 

Research Brief