Press Release - March 27, 2007


In Past 3 Months, Family Has Donated $218 Million in Real Estate to Create Permanent Charitable Funds for Silicon Valley Philanthropy

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA –The family that built the Valley skyline is now being honored for their work in building the community’s quality of life through their philanthropy.  Over the past decade, the Sobrato family has provided more than $70 million in funding to local nonprofits and created a private family foundation and charitable funds at Silicon Valley Community Foundation with assets of more than $250 million.  Their charitable investments have been strategically focused to help the local community.

On March 27, the Association of Fundraising Professionals will award the Sobrato Family Foundation with its highest honor, the Outstanding Foundation award, at its international conference in Dallas, Texas.

The honor caps a period in which the Sobrato family has substantially increased its philanthropic investments.  With the donation this month of a mid-rise building in Mountain View to the Real Estate Trust at Silicon Valley Community Foundation, the Sobrato family has now made more than $218 million in real estate donations to the Real Estate Trust and the family’s private foundation in just three months.

“Our family has been very fortunate to have grown our real estate business as Silicon Valley has grown.  By donating these buildings to the Real Estate Trust at Silicon Valley Community Foundation and to our family foundation, we are able to help numerous organizations in the community," said John A. Sobrato, chairman of Sobrato Development.

The most recent Sobrato gift, a mid-rise office tower located at 2440 El Camino in Mountain View, is valued at $36 million and has been donated to the Real Estate Trust at Silicon Valley Community Foundation.  Proceeds from the sale of the building will go to the Sobrato Foundation, a supporting organization of the community foundation, and will support numerous local charities.

“Silicon Valley Community Foundation is honored that the Sobratos have chosen to work in partnership with the Real Estate Trust with this donation.  The Sobratos are not only leaders and innovators in real estate development, but they are one of Silicon Valley’s leading locally-focused philanthropists," said Emmett D. Carson, CEO and president, Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

This gift comes on the heels of another real estate gift in December 2006 to the Real Estate Trust with a gift value of $42 million. The proceeds of this sale will also go to the Sobrato Foundation at the community foundation. Together with the recent donation of the Sobrato tower at 488 Almaden in Downtown San José to their private foundation, the Sobrato family has contributed more than $218 million in buildings to charity in the last three months.

The Sobrato family’s philanthropy focuses on investing in the “people and places"of nonprofit agencies. Unlike most other funders, Sobrato grants provide general operating and capital funds for salaries, rent and utilities, building rehabilitation and land acquisition for nonprofits based on their greatest needs. In addition they provide loans, in-kind office and meeting space to agencies as well.

“Our family’s philanthropy focuses on the local community.  We believe in helping nonprofits with the assistance they need most, from paying for the staff working with the clients, to keeping the lights turned on so they can serve the community.  Nonprofits in Silicon Valley haven’t yet recovered from the downturn in the economy.  We believe it is important for those who have been blessed with success to invest in the community that has fostered that success," said John M. Sobrato, CEO of Sobrato Development.

The family leverages its investments by partnering with other organizations to accomplish its philanthropic goals.  The Sobrato family’s partnership with the community foundation began in the late 1990s and includes:

  • The $10 million Sobrato Affordable Housing Fund, a revolving loan fund that provides seed funding for affordable housing developments through no-interest loans to nonprofit housing developers.  Administered in part by Lenders for Community Development, the program has helped create over 2,600 units of affordable housing since 2001.
  • The Sobrato Foundation, a supporting organization of the community foundation, which has made more than 300 grants totaling $11 million to local nonprofits.
  • The Sobrato Center for Nonprofits, a 110,000 square foot multi-tenant office center, located in Milpitas that is home to 30 nonprofits who receive free office space.

“Much like Warren Buffett’s partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, our partnership with the community foundation allows our family to leverage our charitable investments for greater community good," said John M. Sobrato.

This month’s gift to the Real Estate Trust at Silicon Valley Community Foundation comes just two months after the launch of the new Silicon Valley Community Foundation, the $1.5 billion organization created by the merger of the region’s two community foundations.

“We believe that the community foundation merger offers greater opportunities to address critical needs in our community," said John A. Sobrato.  “We are looking forward to working with the new Silicon Valley Community Foundation as it works to create solutions to problems across our entire region."

Sobrato Family Foundation: Back row left to right - John Michael Sobrato (Trustee), John Matthew Sobrato, Paulette Maehara, AFP President & CEO, Bryan Polster (Trustee), Diane Ford (Sobrato Family Foundation Executive Director), Jeff Sobrato Front row left to right - Abby Sobrato (Trustee), John A. Sobrato (Foundation Chairman), Susan Sobrato (Trustee), Lisa Sobrato Sonsini (Foundation Board President)

About Sobrato Family Foundation

The Sobrato Family Foundation was formed in 1996 through the generosity and leadership of Ann Sobrato and her son, John A. Sobrato, his wife Sue, and their three children in order to share their success with the communities where their family-owned real estate development business (Sobrato Development Companies) has thrived for the last 50 years.  In only 10 short years, the Foundation has demonstrated its commitment to helping create and sustain a vibrant and healthy community where all residents of Silicon Valley in California have equal opportunity to live, work and be enriched. The Foundation is one of the few exclusive place-based grantmakers investing specifically in the Silicon Valley region including San Mateo, Santa Clara and Southern Alameda Counties. For more information, visit

Michelle McGurk, Senior Director, Media and Community Relations
408.278.2208 phone or 408.655.7332 cell,

Diane Ford, Executive Director, Sobrato Family Foundation
408.718.6601 cell or 408.996.0100 phone,