November 2016
Progress Newsletter
From Seed to Success:
Early Funding in San Mateo County
by: James Higa, Executive Director

As the number of Silicon Valley startups continues to grow, so does the number of innovative non-profits and socially minded for-profits that are springing up to address longstanding issues.  At PVF, we learn about these startups by getting out from behind our desks and seeing them in person. We often act as the first funder, providing the seed funding at a crucial moment to get a new initiative - led by individuals with great potential - off the ground successfully.  Here are some examples of exciting new nonprofit startups in San Mateo County that are quickly advancing from seed to success.

Career Village  is democratizing career advice, offering a cloud-based platform for young people - especially those in low-income communities - to have access to relevant and easy-to-understand information. Career questions from youths are matched to working professionals with relevant experiences and expertise to share. This expands students' networks beyond parents, teachers, and overloaded school counselors and uses crowdsourcing to provide accessible guidance to youth on a bigger scale. Inspired by Career Village's aim to empower young minds at a crucial inflection point, we supported this innovative program as it expands to San Mateo County schools.

"It's important to me to give back to the kids of East Palo Alto because I want them to know that they have... someone who is in their corner and will help them do what is needed to be successful." --Lex Gillette, 3-time Paralympic Medalist and Classroom Champions Mentor

Classroom Champions  partners Olympic and Paralympic athletes with students in high-need schools with the intention of helping students build skills such as goal setting, perseverance, and teamwork.  These "athlete mentors" send themed video lessons to their assigned classes, and teachers connect these lessons to existing curriculum. Students then respond through photographs, video messages, and live video chat with the mentors. We provided a seed grant to Classroom Champions to fund four new San Mateo County classrooms.

"We at PVF are leveraging our expertise as a grassroots funder and our deep roots in high-tech to provide the seed funding needed to help these game-changing organizations grow."

Movemeant Foundation  is changing the ingrained public dialogue around beauty ideals for young women to feel confident about their bodies.  The organization operates on the belief that women and girls can build self-confidence through physical movement and healthy living. We are helping them expand their body-positive, movement-based curriculum into San Mateo County middle schools this fall. Their curriculum focuses on physical, social, and emotional development for girls through physical activities like hip hop dance and yoga coupled with discussions on topics such as body diversity and social media's impact on beauty ideals.

Jenny Gaither, CEO of Movemeant Foundation, leads a group of middle school girls in a warm up routine.

/dev/color  start ed in 2015 when a small group of black engineers gathered to help each other reach their career goals - from learning new technologies to finding jobs. The organization's aim is to build a community of black software engineers and create a sense of belonging in Silicon Valley. PVF was heartened at  YCombinator  Demo Day by /dev/color's focus on tech diversity and inspired by Founder and CEO Makinda Adeagbo's personal journey from the tech world to the non-profit world.  We are proud to help provide these software engineers with the support needed to unlock their potential to change the communities, industries, and world they live and work in.

These initiatives are changing the face of the nonprofit sector in San Mateo County through their bold, technology-centered approaches to deep-rooted issues. We at PVF are leveraging our expertise as a grassroots funder and our deep roots in high-tech to provide the seed funding needed to help these game-changing organizations grow.
Good for the Bones:
Yoga for Special Education Professionals
Working as a special education teacher can be both physically and emotionally challenging - repetitive motion and heavy lifting are required in many special education classrooms, and physical violence is a typical occurrence. On top of demanding workdays, the average salary of educators is low, and many have to work multiple jobs just to pay the bills. Public school educators therefore do not often have the extra funds to pay for much-needed self-care activities.
For these compelling reasons, we opted to fund 25 weeks of yoga classes for public school special education professionals working with students with moderate to severe disabilities in San Mateo County. Yoga is statistically proven to benefit the workplace - it is known to reduce employee turnover, promote alertness, and increase productivity. It also helps improve overall health by reducing back pain, insomnia, high blood pressure, and mental health issues. In short, it is a valuable self-care tool for special education professionals.

Read more on our blog!
About the Editors

James Higa
James Higa, Executive Director, brings 28 years of executive experience from Silicon Valley, working with Steve Jobs to change the face of technology. He was at the birth of the personal computer revolution as a member of the original Macintosh team and was deeply involved in the creation of many products and services at Apple over 3 decades. He has a long history of public service as a board member of Stanford's Haas Center and in grassroots relief efforts. 
Bill Somerville, Founder, has been in non-profit and philanthropic work for 50 years. He was the director of a community foundation for 17 years, and in 1991 founded Philanthropic Ventures Foundation where he serves as President. Bill has consulted at over 400 community foundations, on creative grantmaking and foundation operations. Bill is the author of Grassroots Philanthropy: Field Notes of a Maverick Grantmaker. 
About PVF

PVF is a demonstration foundation practicing unique forms of grantmaking and innovative philanthropy. Our primary interest is in the creative and significant use of the philanthropic dollar.