May 2016
Progress Newsletter
Housing Fund Comes to the Rescue for 
Low-Income Families
by: Bill Somerville, Founder

Affordable housing is the number one issue in places like East Palo Alto and Silicon Valley. Low-income families, in a sea of Silicon Valley wealth, are beset with being able to find affordable housing.
"Low-income families, in a sea of Silicon Valley wealth, are beset with being able to find affordable housing." 
Fortunately, low-income families have an advocate on their side: Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto. For those living paycheck to paycheck, an unforeseen illness, a job loss, an accident, or a family emergency can spell disaster. In partnership with Community Legal Services and the Peery Foundation, we created the Rescue Housing Fund, which provides a small but significant amount of funds to vulnerable and low-income residents to prevent eviction and homelessness. Through this fund, lawyers at Community Legal Services can cover an amount needed by a client for housing during an emergency. Many of these clients are weeks away from an eviction or are in actual eviction proceedings. Fortunately, this fund can be combined with legal advocacy by the housing attorneys to keep more families in their homes.
From left to right: PVF Founder, Bill Somerville, with the Executive Director of Community Legal Services, Phil Hwang
For example, one disabled resident with a section 8 housing subsidy was recently at risk of being evicted due to house clutter. With a small amount of funds provided by the Rescue Housing Fund, the clutter was removed and eviction was avoided. Another resident lost a month of wages after being injured in a car accident, but the Rescue Housing Fund helped bridge the gap in rent while she recovered. Many families have been referred to Community Legal Services by educators at local schools, who are often the first to know that a family is in crisis. 
This map shows the distribution of clients served by the Rescue Housing Fund in East Palo Alto.
So far, the fund has benefited more than 40 residents of East Palo Alto and Belle Haven (a part of Menlo Park), enabling families to remain in the community and ensuring their children can remain enrolled in school. Through the Rescue Housing Fund, small but significant funds make a difference between the streets and the safety of home. 
Bill Somerville's Grantmaking Style 
Takes Center Stage at TEDxBYU
Did you know that it takes approximately 26 hours on average for an organization to apply for a grant from a foundation - including staff meetings, paperwork, and interviews?

Bill Somerville, founder of PVF, is on a mission to change this.

For the past 25 years, Bill has been demonstrating the power of funding people rather than paper. He started PVF to do paperless, grassroots giving with a fast turnaround, a radical approach to philanthropy that is working - since 1991, we have given out more than $119 million in grants, made possible through our work with hundreds of donors committed to this idea.

Bill's bold approach to giving has caught the attention of not only donors but also media outlets and fellow foundations; he has consulted at more than 400 community foundations and has been profiled in numerous articles. His latest venture in spreading his message? Giving a TEDx Talk at Brigham Young University in March.

Throughout his TEDxBYU talk, Bill speaks about how the simple can be significant when it comes to philanthropy, touching on our immediate response grant programs and fast funding for grassroots organizations that have a big impact on the community.

Interested in hearing for yourself? Check out Bill's TEDx Talk below!

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.