A Year in Review

Honest Philanthropy
A Role in Philanthropy for the "Little Guy"
(photo credit: Christopher Michel) 
Let's bring back honesty.

In 2017, we saw the rising flood of fake news and a world that feels like it's splitting apart more than coming together. We need transparent honesty more than ever, and our grantmaking reflected this.

The 'Silence Breakers' rose up this year en masse to start an honest conversation about sexual harassment in our workplaces and communities. We were honored to support the courageous work of Better Brave, Callisto, and Kater Gordon's Modern Alliance--new startups that want to put an end to this continued predation of women, minorities, and the least powerful amongst us.

An honest and fair chance on a level playing field of economic opportunity is a key part of the solution to the Inequality Gap. SheEO is transforming how women-led ventures can be given an honest and equal chance at getting financed. The Bay Area Inspire Awards and 1951 Coffee Co are giving young people and refugees an honest shot at creating dignified jobs.

In addressing social entrepreneurs from around the globe at SOCAP17, I was uplifted by their honest intentions and shared belief that companies have a responsibility to do good and give back to our world. We need more of that here in Silicon Valley.

So here's to all of us making honesty a habit of our hearts.

James Higa, Executive Director
(photo credit: Martin Klimek)
In 2017, it was great to see some large foundation and tech donors step forward to fund local grassroots programs.

It's also refreshing to know that PVF was there as well, often as first funder.

For example, it was our idea 16 years ago to start two fellowship programs at Stanford, placing students in philanthropic foundations for a summer or a year. We wanted to bring more young people into philanthropy; now a few hundred students have participated, and many are working full-time in the field.

Or the St. Francis Center, which offers over 85 units of low income housing, a neighborhood gym, food, clothing, and a K-8 school-PVF was the first funder, 30 years ago, when all their services operated out of a small cottage.

Being a first funder is not risky business, but it's very challenging to "find 'em and fund 'em."

Our ability to identify people and programs, no matter what size, and give support at the right time, is what grassroots philanthropy is all about.  The way we find people is to be out and around, to become aware of new programs or new ideas; good people lead to other good people.

So, there is a role in philanthropy for the little guy. And we will continue our efforts in the new year.

Bill Somerville, Founder
We are proud to present our 2017 Report, now available online!
Authentic, Hands-On Environmental Science
"As a teacher in an underserved school district, my students are faced with several challenges inside and outside of the four walls of my classroom. In fact, their zip code often limits their ability to achieve their goals, as they have not all had access to an equitable education. Despite the many challenges they face, I am looking to provide my students with the science education they deserve.... My students need an authentic, hands-on learning experience to supplement their unit on climate change and its impacts." - Ashlyn Brulato, Teacher at Roosevelt Middle School

This school year, PVF introduced a new teacher grant program: the Environmental Science Resource Grant, made possible with funding from the Lampert Byrd Foundation.

Through this program, grants of up to $500 are awarded to teachers to enhance classroom environmental science curriculum.

Ashlyn Brulato, a sixth grade Science, Technology, Engineering, and Design teacher at Roosevelt Middle School in Oakland, had the idea to invite experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) to visit her classroom and teach her students about "aquatic ecosystems in the Bay and how they are currently and will be impacted by climate change as well as what they can do to help preserve these ecosystems." 
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.
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