July 2016
Progress Newsletter
The Road to Regina's Door

by: James Higa, Executive Director

Like many a PVF story, the path that led us to funding Regina's Door is one of intentional serendipity. My daughter is a rising senior in high school and researching the issue of human trafficking in the Bay Area. Venus Rodriguez, a pioneer in this field, connected us to Lina Buffington at MISSEY, a human trafficking non-profit and PVF grantee. Lina in turn suggested we reach out to Regina. 

Stepping off of a bustling 17th Street in Oakland, I found myself in a riot of color and fashion. Regina's Door is a vintage clothing store. But it is far more than that, it turns out. It seems the entire neighborhood is streaming into the store. They sit, they chat, they might buy a scarf. As the conversations come into focus, I realize that this tiny space is the healing nexus for the community of survivors of trafficking in Oakland. Regina makes a pimp wait outside while she speaks to a young woman inside. She might direct someone to a shelter nearby. She employs survivors of human trafficking and forced sexual labor so they can reclaim their dignity. Regina is also a social justice poet, playwright, and producer, organizing community performances in the store to both raise awareness around the issue of trafficking and, more importantly, to create a passage, insurrection, and a rising up for survivors to reclaim themselves. Some are acting in the play. Some are creating a magazine, something they've never done, or writing poetry. This little space bursts with big love, entrepreneurship (it was bootstrapped with a few hundred dollars and a ton of resilience), community, and real hope and healing.

"This tiny space is the healing nexus for the community of survivors of trafficking in Oakland."

The very next day we discussed Regina's work at PVF. I brought my daughter in, who advocated on behalf of Regina. By that afternoon, I was back at Regina's door with a grant. Walking about and engaging with our community leaders at the grassroots level, seeing with our own eyes the quality of these leaders and their work - this is due diligence the PVF way, not reams of applications, 'please provide five years of financials', and 'how are you going to measure impact?'. 

There is also a tale of humility here. Regina first came to our attention when we heard that she had received the 2015 Oakland Indie Award for Social Changemaker. We took a cursory look and concluded that the store was a for-profit enterprise and a grant would not be possible. Had we hit the pavement then and actually visited, we would have learned that she works with a fiscal sponsor to produce her non-profit performances. It reminds us that we must work harder to see beyond the blinders of labels like non-profit and for-profit, and redouble our efforts to do philanthropy from beyond our desks. It's about the people, not the paper or the non-profit label.
The road to funding Regina's Door is a story of how PVF weaves together our community-engaged, 'find them and fund them', grassroots, immediate response philosophy to philanthropy.
Looking Back on Another Successful Year of 
Teacher Resource Grants 

Now that school is over and it's summertime, we decided to look back over the school year to see what we accomplished with our Teacher Resource Grant Programs.

Each fall, we launch multiple grant programs that provide small, immediate response grants to public school teachers in the Bay Area for a variety of classroom needs. For the 2015-2016 school year, we offered grants for  field trips, visiting artistsafter school clubs, and special education support, as well as artmath, and science resources for the classroom. Each of these grant programs is made possible by generous funding from family foundations.

When looking at the numbers, we see that these programs were particularly impactful during the 2015-2016 school year:
      • 7 unique grant programs were available
      • 5 Bay Area Counties were eligible
      • 707 grants were awarded
      • $500-$2,500 was the range of the grant amount
      • $485,759 was given out in total
      • 14,000+ students benefited

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.