Philanthropic Ventures Foundation            Progress Newsletter  -  December 2013
Creating a Sturdy Foundation for Foster Youth

by: James Higa     


Foster children Ben and Max have spent the past four years moving from house to house and sleeping on couches. They have been exposed to domestic violence, drug use, and unsafe living conditions. After 13-year-old Ben courageously asked their aunt and uncle to represent him and his 7-year-old brother as their guardians, they will finally be able to experience a stable and safe home life. While the boys are finally in a safe place, they came to their new home with clothing that was tattered and did not fit. To help during this transition, PVF provided a small grant to the boy's social worker of $250 for each youth in order to purchase proper clothing for school.


Supporting basic needs like this can make an immense difference in the life of a child. Our Social Worker/CASA Resource Program awards grants of up to $250 to Bay Area social workers and Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) who work with youth in dependency. The grant is to be used for immediate essential needs of the youth, but in the end the grant does so much more than fill that need. The program can also support summer camp or music lessons - opportunities afforded to other children but beyond the means of caretakers of youth in foster care. The Social Worker/CASA Resource Program is PVF's way of showing foster youth that there are people who care, as well as honoring the adults and social workers who work tirelessly to help them succeed.


One CASA eloquently requested support for her 16-year-old CASA youth: "Jason has a great deal of inner resolve, creativity and giftedness. He is working hard in school and I am so proud of him." She requested funds for a pair of warm winter boots for Jason, sharing Jason's request in his own words: "I would like a sturdy boot that will walk long and hard with me through my struggle and to create a sturdy foundation from which my future legacy will grow." With a $175 grant, Justin's CASA was able to provide him with a much-needed item and to give a positive and encouraging message of support.


It takes just a small amount of funding to play a role in supporting a foster youth, through PVF's immediate response program. Making grants to public sector employees is something almost no foundations practice. It is another way that PVF redefines and pushes the boundaries of philanthropy.  If you are interested in funding the needs of a foster youth this holiday season, please click here to donate, and select Social Worker/CASA Resource Program. 

Working to Tackle Homelessness in the Bay Area
by: Ashley Murphy

Despite the ever-increasing wealth of Silicon Valley, poverty and homelessness continue to plague many living in the Bay Area.  One group working to tackle this is Downtown Streets Team, an organization focused on eradicating homelessness.

Downtown Streets Team addresses the critical needs of the homeless: shelter, food, and employment. The model is simple, yet innovative: homeless people are employed as volunteers to do street cleanup work in their city. These hours of volunteer service are then traded for vouchers for services like the bus and food. It's a win-win situation: the city receives cleanup services and the volunteers actively work towards addressing their critical more here!
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.
About the Editors
James Higa
Executive Director
Bill Somerville

James Higa 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 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.

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