January 2016
Progress Newsletter
25 Years of Creative Grantmaking
TOTAL GRANTS 1991-2015
$120 million
A Grassroots Beginning 
by: Bill Somerville, Founder

I remember when we opened the first office of Philanthropic Ventures Foundation. We had zero assets, but before long we received an inheritance gift from a donor, and with that, we were off. 

Even in these early days, we were an initiator. We found outstanding people doing good work and gave grants quickly with minimal paper requirements. We focused on critical intervention funding, showing that small grants timed well can have a big impact. From the beginning, PVF's reimagining of philanthropy has had a rippling effect on the wider philanthropic world. 

Looking Forward
by: James Higa, Executive Director

As we turn our gaze from the past 25 years to the path that lies ahead over the next 25 years, we couldn't be more optimistic. Why? Because we feel powerful tectonic shifts underfoot in the contours of philanthropy. 

The Bay Area has been the cradle of innovation and transformative change in the wider world. This spirit of creativity and thinking differently is beginning to flow into philanthropy. We are starting to see collaboration the likes of which we haven't seen before. The Inequality Gap is a defining issue of this generation, bringing people together in a common bond, with new ways of collaborating. We believe true change is rooted in this type of radical collaboration. There's a lot to be excited about and we couldn't be more optimistic and energized for our next quarter century. 
Food Distribution - 
Simple, Efficient, and Built on Trust
by: Bill Somerville, Founder

The first step to distributing healthy food to needy families is getting access to the food first.

Recognizing this, PVF provided the funds to the Catholic Worker Program in Redwood City for a truck to pick up food from a San Francisco produce mart.

The process is simple. Vendors in the produce mart have either extra food items or items that are considered not desirable anymore. 

Workers from the Catholic Worker Program show up with hand carts and ask the vendors for food. The truck is loaded and off they go to locations to distribute the food for free.

This process has gone on for 30 years. It is based on trust with all of the parties involved knowing each other, efficiency in the simplicity of the process, and generosity of everyone involved giving their time and resources.
About the Editors

James Higa
James Higa, Executive Director, 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, Founder, 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.

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.