The Next Generation
of Innovative Philanthropy
By Savannah Lira, Program and Communications Associate
In 2014 a small group of Bay Area residents  came to us with a problem and a solution. 

The problem - young, socially-minded people in our communities often have imaginative, innovative ideas for creating change, but don't have the resources to turn those ideas into a reality. The solution? An awards program that backs the best ideas we can find and gives them a chance to come to fruition.

"There is no shortage of innovative ideas amongst young people today. With the support, guidance, and mentorship from donors we can develop more impactful community projects, and drive positive change for the people around us." 

- Dante Alvarado-Leon, 2015-2016 Bay Area Inspire Awardee
Now in it's 4th year, the Bay Area Inspire Awards, administered by Philanthropic Ventures Foundation, 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. 

Each year, the Awardees are paired with a voluntary Advisory Board to provide them with mentorship and support throughout their projects. These advisors (below) are an amazing group of individuals who will be bringing with them a wide range of experience and expertise. 


Clockwise from Top Left:

  • Eugene "Ace" Johnson, Motivational speaker; Spoken Word Poet and Lyricist; Founder, iVisionary Academy
  • Dante Alvarado-LeonFounder of MentorRoom; Business Product Specialist at Facebook
  • Jayson J. Phillips, Senior Software Manager at Trilogy Education Services; Full Stack Web Development Instructor at UC Berkeley Extension
  • Rita Bullwinkel, Author; Arts Educator
  • Benjamin Bac Sierra, Author; Community Innovator; Professor of English at City College of San Francisco
  • Dr. Belinda Hernandez-Arriaga, Founder and Executive Director of Ayudando Latinos A Sonar, ALAS; Assistant Professor of Counseling and Psychology, University of San Francisco
Ace and Dante are both past recipients of the Bay Area Inspire Award and their community initiatives have continued to thrive. Dante, and his co-founder Itzel Martinez, additionally went on to receive a 2019 Westly Prize for their Latinas Engineering Leadership Programa 4-month virtual mentorship experience that helps Latinas studying Computer Science land their first technical internship. The Westly Prize is similarly focused on supporting young innovators (ages 18-27) from California who want to make the world a better place. 

The Bay Area Inspire Awards is still accepting applications - deadline is September 30th. If you or someone you know has an innovative idea for improving the world, click here to read more.
Meet the 2017-2018 Bay Area Inspire Award Recipients
Tiphereth Banks
Sauti: Therapeutic Art Workshops for Youth

Using art and its ability to heal emotional wounds, Tiphereth will host monthly art therapeutic workshops for Bay Area youth who have overcome traumatic experiences, focusing on foster youth and incarcerated youth, from the ages of 10 and older.

Eugene "Ace" Johnson
Talent Tour - Talent Shows at Oakland High Schools

Ace will produce talent showcases in underserved schools within urban communities as a positive outlet and platform for creative expression. These talent shows will involve the community and empower students to use their gifts and talents to express the issues they face and change the world.

Connie Liu
Project Invent: Students Designing for Social Good

Connie aims to empower high school students across the Bay Area to invent towards a better community. In her project, students will invent solutions to problems like homelessness and poor education while developing design and engineering skills along the way.

Ahzha McFadden
Menlo-Atherton Ecology Research Outdoors (MERO) Science Program

Ahzha is expanding an after school science program (that she started last year) aiming to provide a fun and supportive community for high school English Language Learners and help them develop the academic and communication skills needed to excel in high school and beyond.

Samantha Solomon
Build Your Own Computer Lab - Supporting Emerging Tech Leaders

Samantha's project is about giving students access to computers and providing students with the opportunity to better understand how computers work. Middle and high school students will build their own computers, which will then be used for a computer lab in the library and as tools for students who want to learn coding and pursue more work with technology.
Claudia Luz Suarez
Our Story, Our Lens: Faces of the Undocumented

Collaborating with and training migrant youth, Claudia will create a documentary series that focuses on the acts of representation, remembering, and archiving of the undocumented experiences of migrants who are often ignored by media due to age, nationality, or status.

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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