Press Release - September 17, 2014

SVCF Receives $7.5 Million Federal Investment To Improve Children's Literacy

Grant will fund The Big Lift effort in San Mateo County, where 42 percent of third-graders cannot read proficiently

MOUNTAIN VIEW, California — The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) today announced that Silicon Valley Community Foundation has received $7.5 million in investments, the result of a highly competitive open grant competition. Silicon Valley Community Foundation is proud to be one of seven recipients nationwide of a 2014 Social Innovation Fund grant. SVCF will use the funds to improve reading skills among San Mateo County children.

Five years into the program launched by President Obama in 2009, the Social Innovation Fund and its non-federal partners have committed to invest more than $700 million in effective community solutions. Including the grants announced today, the SIF portfolio now represents a $229.3 million federal investment in partnership with 27 intermediaries co-investing in 217 nonprofits in 37 states and Washington, DC. This modest federal investment is expected to leverage more than $540 million in non-federal match commitments. SIF investments support innovative, evidence-based approaches to our nation’s challenges in the areas of economic opportunity, youth development and health.

“We are excited about this new class of Social Innovation Fund grantees because they are among the most cutting edge grant-makers in social innovation,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. “The investment in these organizations will not only bolster local programs’ capacity to serve more individuals in need, but also provide communities with programs that work.”

Over the course of three years, the SIF grant to Silicon Valley Community Foundation will provide $7.5 million to increase the reading proficiency of children in San Mateo County through the ambitious countywide effort known as The Big Lift. SVCF may qualify for an additional $9 million in funding for a fourth and fifth year, pending Congressional appropriations and evidence of the program’s success.

“Along with our lead partners, the County of San Mateo and the San Mateo County Office of Education, we at SVCF are proud of the trust the federal government has placed in us to put the county’s children on the road to success,” said Erica Wood, Chief Community Impact Officer for SVCF.

The Big Lift was spearheaded in 2012 by the Peninsula Partnership Leadership Council, which is led by SVCF, the San Mateo County Office of Education, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors and a network of funders and service providers devoted to learning and social impact.

“This grant signifies an unprecedented opportunity to create a robust learning system that starts early, enhances school transitions, engages families, and ultimately boosts student literacy and achievement,” said Anne E. Campbell, San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools.

The Big Lift seeks to address the troubling reality that in San Mateo County, 42 percent of third graders are not reading at grade level; this figure rises to a shocking 60 percent of Latino, African-American and Pacific Islander third graders. Education experts agree that third-grade reading proficiency is one of the best predictors of academic achievement in subsequent years. If a child is behind in reading by the end of third grade, it is likely that he or she will never catch up.

San Mateo County’s Big Lift initiative integrates high-quality learning experiences from preschool to third grade, focuses on reducing chronic absence and summer learning loss, and engages parents and the broader community to support learning in school and at home.

The SIF requires significant local matching funds, most of which will be provided by the County of San Mateo. “Addressing the needs of our children and families can’t be done alone,” said San Mateo County Supervisor Carole Groom. “The County is proud to see that local Measure A sales tax dollars for children and families are now leveraged by the federal government, and invested in our high-need communities.” Measure A sales tax funds, approved by county voters in 2012, will contribute $10 million to match the SIF grant in supporting The Big Lift.

This fall, SVCF plans to issue a request for proposals from school districts and nonprofit organizations that seek to receive funds to implement The Big Lift. Grant recipients will be announced in the first quarter of 2015. Details of this request for proposals will be posted at

About Silicon Valley Community Foundation
Silicon Valley Community Foundation makes all forms of philanthropy more powerful. We serve as a catalyst and leader for innovative solutions to our region’s most challenging problems, and through our donors we award more money to charities than any other community foundation in the United States. SVCF has more than $4.7 billion in assets under management. As Silicon Valley’s center of philanthropy, we provide thousands of individuals, families and corporations with simple and effective ways to give locally and around the world. Find out more at

About the Corporation for National and Community Service
The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service and champions community solutions through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, Social Innovation Fund, and Volunteer Generation Fund programs, and leads the President's national call to service initiative, United We Serve. For more information, visit