SVCF Strategic Grantmaking Review

Grant Making Review

Since 2008, when Silicon Valley Community Foundation announced its discretionary grantmaking program, it has made a total of $90 million in grants to over 500 organizations as part of its discretionary grantmaking and community impact work in four key areas: economic security, education, immigration and building strong communities. In December 2015 we announced that in 2016 we would begin a strategic review process to ensure that our organization is continuing to address Silicon Valley’s most pressing community needs.

We look forward to hearing your ideas as our review process continues throughout 2016 and 2017.

Provide your input here - economic security

Provide your input here - building strong communities

Provide your input here - immigration

Provide your input here - education

Provide your input here - civic engagement

Provide your input here - tech for social good


The grantmaking strategic review process is intended to be both a look back at what SVCF has achieved with its grantmaking investments since over the past since 2008, as well as a look forward to assess and understand where there are emerging opportunities for SVCF to make a positive difference for our community through grantmaking. The review process will provide SVCF’s staff and board of directors with the information necessary to determine whether to stay the course with our grantmaking, make adjustments or direct our investments to new strategic areas of concern. Decisions based on this review process will be made in October 2017.


Our review process will be focused and strategic and will involve a cross-section of community members, practitioners and thought leaders.

SVCF will conduct key informant interviews with important stakeholders, such as funding partners, policy- and decision-makers and expert advisors whose job is to follow, indicate or lead trends.

SVCF will review evaluation data collected for each our grantmaking strategy areas to create impact reports that highlight key accomplishments, challenges and lessons learned.

SVCF will conduct a series of convenings; some will be related to each of our four existing strategy areas and two will address potential new focus areas.

Our efforts will also involve the use of social media to solicit ideas efficiently and cost-effectively from a broad cross-section of the community.


SVCF will hold a series of community conversations to discuss our grantmaking strategies and address potential new subject areas for future grantmaking. In order to be able to talk deeply, we are only inviting about 100-125 people to any one session on each topic. To reach as many different stakeholders in our region as possible, we'll also be hosting grantmaking conversations in southern Santa Clara County and on the coast.

We invite others to participate by completing the public survey forms that will be available following each conversation session.

Topic Date
Economic Security Conversation September 20, 2016
Building Strong Community Conversation October 28, 2016
Immigration November 14, 2016
Education December 7, 2016
Civic Engagement and Political Participation January 24, 2017
Technology for Social Good February 8, 2017



Why is SVCF reviewing its grantmaking strategies?
When our strategic grantmaking strategies began making their first grants in 2009, we made a commitment to reviewing the programs after seven years. This process ensures that our grantmaking strategies remain timely, effective and relevant to addressing the most pressing challenges in our community.

When will SVCF be changing their grantmaking strategies?
SVCF expects to announce plans for the future of our grantmaking strategies in fall 2017.

Is SVCF still making grants?
Yes, we are still making grants on the current grantmaking strategies. To view our open RFPs please visit our Strategic Grants webpage.

Can anyone attend the community conversations SVCF is holding?
In order to be able to talk deeply we are only inviting about 100-125 people to any one session on each topic. We have assembled a very diverse group of experts – community leaders, elected officials, nonprofit executive directors, academicians, fellow funders, and city and county representatives with a vested interest in the particular topics. We will be asking them to address questions, from their vantage point, about what the key issues are for the Silicon Valley region, what efforts are already under way and where SVCF is uniquely positioned to play a role.

We hope these groups will be representative of the various groups and perspectives on the topics. We invite everyone to participate in our online survey form and in social media conversations using the hashtag #svcfgrants on Twitter, or via our Facebook page.

What will happen at the community conversations?
The convening will include an all-group presentation, followed by several small breakout discussions designed to gather participants’ feedback about our four grantmaking strategies. There will also be two convenings about potential new strategies. Participants will be asked to move about the meeting room to participate in different conversations.

What other methods of evaluation will SVCF use?
These community conversations are one aspect of a multi-faceted approach to effectively reviewing our grantmaking strategies. Along with the feedback we receive during these convenings, we are also informing the future of our grantmaking program through:

  • Reviewing and synthesizing evaluation data from each of our grantmaking strategy areas
  • Conducting convenings
  • Designing and executing a social media strategy to solicit new ideas about current and potential new grantmaking strategy areas.

How will you decide what to fund?
SVCF’s board of directors will make final decisions about the strategic direction and programmatic priorities of the community foundation.
The board will be considering issue areas and promising strategies in which SVCF could have a positive impact based on the unique capabilities of SVCF – including grantmaking, community initiatives, convening and strategic communications, donor engagement, and research – and the intersection of community need, potential impact and timely opportunities.

How can I participate?
We’ve launched an online survey form and would like to have a wide group of people respond. Anyone who would like to comment is invited to participate. People can check SVCF’s website for updated information and summaries of input from community members.

Impact Reports