Crossing the Divide  


by: Bill Somerville, President & CEO

For 12 years, Philanthropic Ventures Foundation (PVF) has sponsored the Parent Involvement Program at Cesar Chavez Middle School in East Palo Alto. This is to get parents involved in the education of their children as a way to enhance learning.

As part of this ongoing effort to engage parents in their children's education, PVF sponsored a visit to Stanford University on April 7th for Cesar Chavez Middle School parents. The Haas Center for Public Service hosted the parents, which included a tour of the campus by Spanish-speaking student guides and a presentation by a university administrator, a faculty member, and a Latino student on applying to Stanford and getting help once enrolled. The families later told us, "We were inspired by the students' backgrounds and achievements. The fact that most of them were first generation college graduates was admirable."


The visit was all day with a Stanford bus pickup in East Palo Alto and delivery home. This is crossing the divide between rich and poor and all the parents involved were pleased by the experience. The families described the experience as "eye-opening and unique." One father told us, "Now, my daughter is inspired to prepare for college." Another parent said, "I can't believe how much support the students receive, and my daughter can come here!"

Hopefully, more such undertakings will take place to continue bringing together people of different socioeconomic backgrounds. These types of interactions help to foster understanding and address the inequality gap, as said best by a parent involved in the day's events: "There is a lot of chaos and violence in this world, but by uniting we can make change. Creed and religion do not matter - we should all be united."  


Cesar Chavez Academy moms, dads, and students during their visit to Stanford University with Bill Somerville.  



Facebook Invests Locally with 4th Year of Grants
A middle school student builds her own robot.

Facebook, headquartered in Menlo Park, has just launched the fourth round of grants from the Facebook Local Community Fund.


Through this PVF-administered initiative, Facebook has given out $400,000 to nonprofits serving Belle Haven and East Palo Alto, which are areas that particularly struggle in the midst of the Bay Area's ever-widening inequality gap. The grants aim to support nonprofits that have a history of proven success in providing services to the Belle Haven community, as well as youth-serving nonprofits in East Palo Alto. Recipients have reported that these funds have helped them expand and sustain programs that benefit the more on our blog!  

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.