New Idea, First Funder,
Valuable Program
by Bill Somerville, Founder
We have talked about how PVF has been first funder to new programs. So, what has happened over the years with these programs? 

One of the stars in this funding has been Sister Christina Heltsley at the Saint Francis Center in Redwood City. Located in what was once a gang-infested neighborhood, Sister Christina has designed and overseen the building of a community center that oversees food and clothing distribution, a K-8 school, a neighborhood gym, a two-acre vegetable garden tended by local residents, and a counseling program for people in need. Sister Christina has personally overseen the purchase and rehab of 5 apartment buildings, and she now manages 85 units of housing she has created for low-income families.

Needless to say, the immediate neighborhood has changed and is now a safe, attractive community. It is Sister Christina's intent to house low-income families whether by keeping them in the rehabbed housing or by offering new affordable housing.
(left) Bill Somerville and Sister Christina
(above) St. Francis Center in Redwood City
Another organization we've been proud to fund from the beginning is the Catholic Worker House in Redwood City. Larry Purcell founded this branch of the Catholic Worker House, which for 35 years has offered food distribution and housing for homeless juveniles referred by the school system. The Catholic Worker House offers a language school teaching English and sponsors housing for 55 people a night. Larry is a counselor to the poor, an advocate for youth, and a community organizer helping food programs and donors focus their giving to help the poor.
In East Oakland, PVF was first funder of the Street Level Health Project, which serves day laborers. It has now grown to provide food distribution, job placement, and health treatment for day laborers.

In Daly City, youth dropouts are offered attendance at the Wilderness School. There are two ropes courses developed by and for the students. PVF was the first funder and numerous people, including new police officer trainees, now take the ropes course run by the students. In other words, dropouts can be enticed to come to school.
Philanthropic Ventures Foundation was also a first funder with Puente in Pescadero. In this remote coast-side community, Puente is the only organization serving migrant workers and low-income families. It now runs at least 48 programs, all promoting equal access to education, locally grown food, physical and mental health, and safe housing. Specifically, Puente's Youth Leadership and Employment Program, now in its twelfth year, has made Puente the largest youth employer on the South Coast. Close to 175 youth (including almost a third of Pescadero High School's population) have gone through the program, connecting them to paid jobs and internships. Many of the participants have gone on to college, trade school, or full-time employment; eight former Puente youth are now on staff.

New idea, first funder, valuable program. This is what we do.

(In) Visible + (Un) Told
Guest blog post by Claudia Luz Suarez, 2018 Bay Area Inspire Awards recipient

At the start of 2018, Philanthropic Ventures Foundation (PVF) 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. Below is a reflection written by one of these awardees, Claudia Luz Suarez. In her project, she is collaborating with and training migrant youth to create a documentary series focusing on the acts of representation, remembering, and archiving the undocumented experiences of migrants who are often ignored by media due to age, nationality, or status.
Often when we hear about immigrants in the mainstream media, we hear a very dichotomous, one-sided narrative about what that looks like. They are young. They are college bound. They are Latino/a. They are DACAmented. They are unlawful.

But the truth is, immigrants are none of these things, and all of these things all at the same time. 
Art by Quetzalli Jimenez of documentary participants Kenzi Hilario, Natalia Avvakumova,  Claudia Y. Suarez, and Yota OmoSowho.
The film project (In) Visible + (Un) Told is a youth led documentary project that highlights the stories of Bay Area immigrants who challenge that immigrant narrative and showcase how complex, and multi-dimensional immigrants stories are. Our documentary participants are mothers, queer, activists, students, aspiring lawyers, journalists, cleaning ladies, dog lovers, home chefs, hikers, care givers, artists and much more. They are also Nigerian. Salvadoran. Mongolian. Filipina. Russian. Nicaraguan. They are refugees, asylum seekers, TPS and DACA holders, and undocumented. Our documentary makers are young, powerful, curious, student filmmakers from Life Academy High School in Oakland.
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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