Inspiring Community Oriented Projects
By Savannah Lira, Program Officer
In 2014, two individuals created the Bay Area Inspire Awards to build local communities that work better for all residents. The community initiative, administered by PVF, is now in its 4th round and provides $5,000 grants to 18-30 year olds who have innovative ideas for improving social equity in San Francisco, Alameda, and San Mateo Counties.

In January 2020, PVF granted six Bay Area Inspire Awards to young Bay Area residents. When COVID prevented their in-person projects from going as planned, they pivoted to virtual initiatives and pushed forward, serving their communities' current needs.
One of these awardees is Netta Wang. Netta’s project, Prison Renaissance Zine, was inspired by Emile DeWeaver, a then incarcerated activist, working to combat loneliness and lack of meaning in prison. She wanted to create a program that could put free and incarcerated voices together to grow and learn from each other. The Prison Renaissance Zine's goal was to create radical collaboration and solidarity between two unlikely groups in artistic dialogue: incarcerated artists and Stanford student artists.

Netta spent the first few months of 2020 planning for a magazine launch and art exhibit by Spring 2020, planning on featuring 10 student and incarcerated artist pairs across 3 prisons in California. Once campus shut down due to the pandemic, efforts were diverted to supporting incarcerated individuals in prison directly, by sharing information and legal resources through phone and mail.

In June, when COVID-19 reached San Quentin State Prison, Netta mobilized her team to come together and create a COVID-19 version of the magazine they had initially imagined. Within two weeks, they created a magazine, a media toolkit, and a phone-banking zine launch event to demand the Governor act immediately.
Over 50 people showed up to their virtual event and phone-banked for two hours. Alongside many other activists, they were successfully able to push Gov. Newsom to release 8,000 more incarcerated individuals around the state. During the months of December 2020–March 2021, the Prison Renaissance Zine also held a weekly reading group to discuss various writings about prison abolition, criminal justice reform, policing, restorative justice, and histories of incarceration.

Currently, Netta is finishing up the 2020-2021 edition of the zine, collaborating on a COVID anniversary zine with the Ella Baker Center and the #StopSanQuentinOutbreak Coalition, and setting up new artist pairings for the 2021-2022 school year.
BAIA Project: Shades of Beauty
Read about another incredible awardee, Sable Horton. Her project was originally called Project I.N.S.P.I.R.E and was going to use poetry workshops and competitions to help people who have experienced trauma heal, find their voice, learn their true value, and teach them just how loved, valuable, and worthy they really are.

Since then, her project has developed into a non-profit called Shades of Beauty, empowering girls and young women to be the best versions of themselves, and hosts an internet tv show on Roku. 
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 over 50 years. He was the director of a community foundation for 17 years, and in 1991, he founded Philanthropic Ventures Foundation. 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.
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