2014: Reflecting on a Year of Progress

by: James Higa, Executive Director

2014 was truly a landmark year for us at Philanthropic Ventures Foundation. We marked our 24th year of creative grantmaking. Even more significantly, this is the year that PVF surpassed the $100 million milestone in cumulative giving!

From a modest start of $224,000 of grants in our first year, we have grown to over $8,000,000 in grantmaking in 2014. The cumulative impact of this to our communities has been large indeed, but we are even more proud of the ways in which these grants were made. PVF and our innovative donors have always been rooted in blazing new trails to demonstrate the shape of what philanthropy could be.

We were pioneers in grassroots and immediate response giving, and now we are boldly pushing the frontiers of both radical collaboration and open source philanthropy. 2014 was the year PVF forged new bonds with Silicon Valley's high tech startups. The food access initiative with GoodEggs in the Tenderloin, and the creation of the #GIRLBOSS Foundation, are examples of a new kind of collaboration between PVF, grassroots organizations, and high tech companies to give back to our communities.

The tale of two cities, our growing Inequality Gap, is the defining issue of our generation. This gap will not be closed without bold thinking and unhesitating action. PVF is dedicated to continue on our path to reinvent and re-imagine the work that we do to be the activist collaborator and creator for change in our communities.  

by: Bill Somerville, Founder

We feel one of the quality factors in philanthropic work is being first funder. This means finding nascent projects which people are just starting. Usually it isn't large amounts of money that are needed, but when they need start-up funds they need it now and this is what Philanthropic Ventures Foundation is all about.

Programs that come to mind include the St. Francis Center in Redwood City. This is a comprehensive program of housing, food, a gym, outdoor food garden, and a school. PVF was the first funder when Sister Monica first offered food from a small house. And when Sister Christina wanted to start a school, PVF was the first funder and sustained the program for five years.

The social service program, Puente, in Pescadero didn't start with foundation money but did begin its expansion to what it is now with PVF funds. Jobs for Youth in Daly City had PVF funds in its initial phase. The Catholic Worker Program has expanded to six houses with PVF being a major support. PVF funding launched Zohar Dance to expand into schools and juvenile halls.

PVF was an initial funder of Not for Sale's pilot program working with trafficked women in the Bay Area to help them find vocational opportunities.

Into the future we will continue to discover first funding opportunities and be there when it counts the most.

Photo caption: James Higa (center) with the staff of SIRUM, a nonprofit that redistributes unused medicine to those in need. Credit: Craig Sherod.
Photo caption: Bill Somerville (left) with Larry Purcell who runs the Catholic Worker House in Redwood City. Credit: Martin Klimek
PVF's Founder, Bill Somerville, and Executive Director, James Higa
Credit: Craig Sherod

Our 2014 Annual Report is Now Available Online

24 years of creative grantmaking,

$106 million in cumulative giving,

$8,101,645 in grants in 2014 alone,

All with a staff of 5.

In the News

"There is now a huge hunger and desire on the part of employees at many of the start-ups I work with to want to do something - to try and give back - but there is a lack of understanding about what is it they can do."

- James Higa quoted in the New York Times

This month, our Executive Director, James Higa, was quoted in a New York Times article,  "The Shaky Moral Compass of Silicon Valley," about a lack of compassion present in Silicon Valley's wealthy tech professionals. Read the article
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 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.