Philanthropic Ventures Foundation

 January 2012 


a newsletter for our donors and colleagues  


$8 Million in Giving in 2011

In 2011 PVF set a record for its giving at $8.1 million. Up from $5.6 million in grants made in 2010.


For many foundations, giving is set at 5% of assets. PVF's giving would put it at $160 million in size, but we are nowhere near that size. We do what we do by raising the funds from people like you, and by giving out money way beyond the 5% measure.

We give out hundreds of grants, small sums to teachers and social workers, larger grants to programs primarily in San Mateo County but also in Alameda and Santa Clara counties. We even gave $2 million in international grants. 


Some of our giving is discretionary, meaning we decide where to give. Some giving is donor advised, where the

donor decides. We are proud that much of our giving is

math games
A preschool students at Nesbit Puma Cubs
in Belmont, CA engage in a math activity
 their teacher purchased through a
PVF Teacher Grant.
unique - to teachers, social workers, juvenile court judges. Much of our giving is for discretionary use by the agency staff, meaning
 general support. And many grants are first time seed funding to outstanding grassroots organizations. All of our giving is immediate response with grants awarded in 48 hours. We are one of the only foundations in the country doing this.

Our Work in Poverty 


PVF gives out about $800,000 a year to programs relating to poverty, with grants ranging in size from $1,000 to $125,000. 85% of this giving is on the Peninsula and 15% is in Oakland.


A primary focus of PVF is on poverty and programs that address this issue through education, food-clothing-housing services, health, youth, legal. These are safety net programs that make life livable and help people stabilize their lives and get ahead.


PVF gives continuing funding to many of these programs. It is our feeling that these programs are run by outstanding individuals and that is the hallmark of PVF: "find outstanding people and fund them" and do it quickly when they need the money.


While the philanthropic field has evolved into more bureaucratic directions, such as requiring 25+ hours to complete an application for funding from a foundation, PVF has moved to paperless giving wherein the foundation staff will delineate what the money is for and come to an agreement for funding. We are possibly the only foundation doing this but we feel this might be the future of philanthropy with less emphasis on paper as due diligence.


Alleviating poverty is something that takes the best thinking we can come up with, something that tests our mettle in willingness to trust applicants, something that challenges everyone to be their brother's keeper.


We thank you, our donors, for making our work possible.

Join Us

Philanthropic Ventures Foundation has come to depict exciting philanthropy - grassroots giving that is born out of creative thinking. If readers would like to explore new possibilities in their giving, we are ready to meet at your convenience. We believe your giving should be fun, satisfying and significant.

We can be reached at (510) 645-1890.

About the Editor

Bill Somerville 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 Executive Director. PVF is a demonstration foundation practicing unique forms of grantmaking and conducting innovative philanthropy. Bill has consulted at over 400 community foundations in the United States, Canada, and the U.K., on creative grantmaking and foundation operations.  His primary interest is in the creative and significant use of the philanthropic dollar.

Board of Directors

Duncan Beardsley, Chair


Generosity in Action  


John P. Carver

Retired Senior Vice-President

The Gap Inc.


William E. Green


William Green & Associates


James Higa

Senior Director

Apple Inc. 


Albert J. Horn


Carr, McClellan, Ingersoll,

Thompson & Horn PC


Bill Somerville, President

Executive Director

Philanthropic Ventures Foundation


Jackie Speier

U.S. Representative

12th District of California
Moira C. Walsh

Attorney and

Philanthropic Advisor


Colburn S. Wilbur

Trustee and Former President, 

David and Lucile Packard Foundation 

Board of Advisors

Janet Camarena

Director, San Francisco Office,

The Foundation Center


Leonard Edwards

Judge-in-Residence, California Administrative Office of the Courts


Kathy Kwan


The Eustace-Kwan Family Foundation 


Dien Yuen

Chief Philanthropy Officer,


Be Our Fan on Facebook! 

Special Education Resource Grants   

The Special Education Resource Grant program opened the first week of January, and this week we awarded our final grant. We awarded over 200 grants to teachers serving mildly to severely disabled students with a wide spectrum of special needs.


The grant requests we receive for this program are some of the most heartfelt and inspiring requests we receive. Here are some examples of requests we funded:


students playingGross Motor Materials - Dan Mini Elementary School, Vallejo: Ms. Joan DeWolf requested funding to replace supplies to help students develop language, social and motor skills.


"I am requesting funding so I may purchase materials to meet the needs of my students and classroom. We are still experiencing budget cuts and it affects how I can serve my students...Read more here 

Want to Know More?


Philanthropic Ventures Foundation, 1222 Preservation Park Way, Oakland CA 94612-1201

Telephone: (510) 645-1890  Fax: (510) 645-1892