Keep Your Eye on
These Visionary Leaders
At the start of 2018, Philanthropic Ventures Foundation awarded grants to six young Bay Area residents with fresh ideas for building better communities. These awards were made possible through the Bay Area Inspire Awards, which provides $5,000 grants to 18-30 year olds living in San Francisco, Alameda, and San Mateo Counties.
This month, we checked in with our six awardees, to see how their projects are progressing. Learn about their challenges and successes, and hear how they're learning and growing as a result.
Bay Area Inspire Awards founders, advisers, and awardees at the Mid-Year Check In event.
Challenges and Learnings

"I had to do things I've never done, ranging from finding a venue for the retreat, to ordering catering for about 30 people, and finally planning the curriculum... It was definitely hard to balance all of it since I've never planned an event before, but it was a learning experience and was rewarding to see how my partner organization East Oakland DREAMers showed up to support throughout the process." -Claudia Luz Suarez, Our Story, Our Lens: Faces of the Undocumented

"(1) Student Choice Matters - Let kids opt into an opportunity: As I have gone through the year, it has become increasingly clear that student choice is ESSENTIAL in successful extracurricular planning.... (2) Small and Deep is better than Huge and Shallow: I found that when I focus on involving higher numbers of students (vs. students who really want to be there) the quality of the experience is compromised." -Samantha Solomon, Build Your Own Computer Lab - Supporting Emerging Tech Leaders
Music producer and composer Andre Hill with Bay Area Inspire awardee Ace Johnson and a Talent Tour finalist from Oakland High School.
Samantha Solomon's students working with Kano, a DIY computer kit, at the Life Academy library.

"All things considered, We made it work and it was a beautiful turn out for all who attended.... I know its really hard to get people to work together in my community for such a cause and I am thankful that I was able to maneuver through these things and keep the show going.... There was a lot of support from the surrounding community, and they want to take more of a lead with making it a greater success next year." -Eugene "Ace" Johnson, Talent Tour - Talent Shows at Oakland High Schools

"Students enjoyed the backpacking trip, the trip to Monterey, getting to meet new friends, and getting to spend time outside at Jasper Ridge.... We are also excited to report that MERO students had fewer disciplinary problems in school than they did prior to joining the program. In the two years we've run the program, we've seen disciplinary problems cut in half among our students. We also saw our first MERO alumnus graduate and we were very proud to watch her walk across the stage and get her diploma." -Ahzha McFadden, Menlo-Atherton Ecology Research Outdoors Science Program

"Out of the five Project Invent teams presenting inventions at Demo Day, two teams (one from EPA Academy, one from Nueva School) each won a $1,000 prize. Three of the five teams became finalists for the Paradigm Challenge, a national invention challenge." -Connie Liu, Project Invent: Students Designing for Social Good
Project Invent Demo Day
Project Invent Demo Day
Final Thoughts
"I can definitely say that just being given the opportunity to pursue this dream of mine is something that I am so grateful for. It brings me joy to know that someone believes in my project and is willing to support me." -Tiphereth Banks, Sauti: Therapeutic Art Workshops for Youth
Menlo-Atherton Ecology Research  Outdoors (MERO)
Guest Blog Post by Ahzha McFadden, 2018 Bay Area Inspire Awards Recipient
Founded in 2017, Menlo-Atherton Ecology Research Outdoors (MERO) is a free, after-school environmental education program for high school English Language Learners. This year-round program engages the San Francisco Bay Area's most disadvantaged students in real, hands-on ecological research in an outdoor setting. Through regular field trips and long-term mentorship, MERO provides a fun and supportive community for underserved teens while helping them gain the academic, communication, and life skills needed to excel in high school and beyond.
Students getting a better look at a garter snake they caught during the Stanford BioBlitz, an annual biodiversity survey.
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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