SVCF awards more than $2.7 million in education, immigration and economic security grants

Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s board of directors recently approved grants totaling more than $2.7 million to combat problems ranging from predatory lending practices aimed at vulnerable low-income earners; middle schoolers falling into the math “achievement gap;” and adult immigrants in need of vital English-language skills to navigate political, civic and employment uncertainty.

“What each of these grants have in common is a desire by SVCF to strengthen the fabric in all corners of our larger Silicon Valley community, so that the talents and skills of every community member can contribute to our region’s vitality and growth,” said Manuel Santamaría, vice president of strategic initiatives and grantmaking.

These grants – the last to be made under SVCF’s current funding priority structure – fall under three of SVCF’s longstanding categories of grantmaking: immigration; education; and economic security. The grantmaking strategies and sub-strategies that have been employed by SVCF since 2008 to provide more than $90 million in grants are currently under strategic review. The review process will ensure that funding is addressing Silicon Valley’s most pressing current community needs; results of the review will be announced in October 2017.

Out-of-School Education Grants

For the ninth consecutive grantmaking cycle, SVCF has funded grants that bolster middle schoolers in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties who are at risk of falling behind in mathematics due to resource constraints or other obstacles.

The 20 grants totaling $1.2 million are aimed at helping nearly 10,000 students with math-focused learning opportunities outside of the classroom, such as summer institutes, bridge programs or after-school tutoring programs. Past grantees, including Jose Valdes Math Institute and Boys & Girls Club of the Peninsula, have successfully raised student math proficiency by a grade level or reached other key milestones of student progress.

Grants awarded to four new projects will feature innovative, extended learning programs to inspire more youth of color and young girls to deepen their interest and success in mathematics.

Bay Area Tutoring Association’s Math and Tech project will receive $50,000 to provide afterschool programs that combine online math instruction with web, mobile, game design and virtual-reality technologies to increase key test scores. TrueChild will receive $70,000 to deliver a model curriculum that teaches girls to think critically about rigid feminine norms and motivate them to achieve improved math and science grades.

Including these grantees, since 2011, more than 23,600 students will have participated in SVCF grant-funded extended learning programs.

Adult English Language Acquisition Grants

The steady flow of immigrants into the Bay Area has led to a growing demand for high-quality English-language programs here. Such programs help immigrants advance in community and civic life by helping them to find sustainable-wage jobs, to communicate with teachers, neighbors, health care providers, landlords and others, and to follow a path to passing the citizenship exam.

SVCF’s focus has been to facilitate and advance this need by funding entities that facilitate coordination among agencies, so that those seeking language help, job training or career assistance get their needs met in a more seamless way.

The 14 grants totaling $796,838 in this area include $65,000 to Refugee Transitions. This grant will assist low-income refugee and immigrant newcomers with high-quality English language or vocational instruction and assistance. Upwardly Global will receive $60,000 to provide online training and in-person coaching on business communication and cultural competency skills for immigrant professionals. And Cañada College will receive $40,100 for a variety of services, including providing ESL classes and helping transition English learners to on-campus college programs.

Anti-Payday Lending Grants

Despite a spate of legal successes by SVCF grantees, including helping pass 14 local ordinances aimed at curtailing costly and usurious payday loans, there remain 1,900 “payday loan” establishments in California. By making small but exorbitantly expensive, hard-to-shed loans to low-income families, these often-unscrupulous lenders made loans of more than $4.2 billion in 2015 alone.

The seven grants totaling $735,000 in this most recent round aim to keep up the pressure against these lenders at the local, state and federal levels.

A $125,000 grant to Youth Leadership Institute will help that group mobilize youth advocates who will support campaigns against such lenders in cities lacking ordinances, including Half Moon Bay and Pacifica.

Center for Responsible Lending will use its $100,000 grant to provide funding to advocacy efforts beyond Silicon Valley for statewide reform. A $50,000 grant to the Public Justice Foundation will help that group continue its litigation work, which has previously contributed to legal action against lenders that skirt laws by claiming tribal immunity.

View a complete list of all the out-of-school education grants.

View a complete list of all adult English language acquisition grants.

View a complete list of all anti-payday lending grants.

Read more about SVCF’s current grantmaking strategies, and about the ongoing review process