Month: January 2017

The Local Affordable Housing Crisis & SV2

We’re pleased to announce the winner of SV2’s first Affordable Housing Lightning Grant Round – and to let you know that you still have a chance to participate in a second Affordable Housing Lightning Grant Round, starting in mid-January.

Led by Partners Lisa Guerra and Nancy Heinen, this Round had an outstanding group of applicant organizations, each working in distinct ways to address the affordable housing challenge in the Bay Area. The November Round winner is Destination:Home, a public-private partnership serving as the backbone organization for collective impact strategies to end homelessness in Santa Clara County. Partners were impressed by Executive Director Jennifer Loving’s dynamism and passion, as well as the clarity of mission focus at the organization. Destination:Home will receive a one-time grant of $30,000 from SV2.

Partner Linda Lazor

Partner Linda Lazor participated in November and shared this perspective: “I have been concerned about the shortage of affordable housing in the Silicon Valley. In addition to increased homelessness, the lack of affordable housing has a less obvious and yet serious long-term impact on our community overall. I was so happy to see SV2 address this issue directly in a Lightning Grant Round this year. Despite the size of the issue, it is encouraging to see promising new models and the experience of the leaders who are addressing it. I learned more about the affordable housing landscape and promising solutions in this grant round than I could have learned on my own. The grant round materials and organizations who participated are first class. I highly recommend this grant round for all SV2 Partners.”

We’re thrilled to be able to offer this Lightning Grant Round again, beginning in mid January – we will have the same group of applicant organizations, excepting Destination:Home. In-person meetings will be on Thursday, January 26 and Tuesday, February 7 from 11:30am-2:00pm (note slightly longer meeting time than Classic Grant Rounds). Please note that because of the condensed nature of the Round, attendance at both in-person meetings is required. The Round will begin in mid-January with diligence pre-work, which includes reading and conference calls with our funder allies.

Because of the pre-work, we ask that you RSVP for this Round as soon as possible but no later than January 13, by emailing Jody.

Behind the Scenes with Beyond-the-Dollars

What is it?

Some call it nonprofit capacity building or technical assistance. At SV2, we call it “Beyond-the-Dollars Support” (BT$). Many in SV2’s talented base of Partners contribute their time and professional expertise to work side-by-side with Grantee or Impact Investee leaders, tackling key organizational or strategic challenges in order to help strengthen their effectiveness and community impact. Read on to find out how BT$ works at SV2 and learn about some of SV2’s most recent projects.

How does it work?

Once a grant is made, Lead Partners and SV2 staff meet with the Grantee or Impact Investee leaders and discuss the strategic goals and capacity building challenges of the organization. Together, we identify several possible projects aimed at helping the organization address key challenges and that are also a good fit for SV2 Partners’ skillsets and time available.

Then, we work with the Grantee leaders to outline the goals for the project(s), the deliverables, timeline, and skills needed to complete the project. In parallel, we work to find SV2 Partners who have the professional skills, experience, and time to volunteer on the project.

What projects have been going on at SV2 lately?

1. Partner Dan Barritt worked with Grantee Global Press Institute (GPI) to provide user experience feedback on the digital platform they’re redesigning to connect GPI editors with reporters in the field. Later this month, Partners Aarti Chandna and Usha Sekar will be helping GPI to create a holistic event fundraising strategy for the Bay Area.

2. Partners Linda Lazor and Rick Tinsley will host a Brainstorming Session for Silicon Valley Urban Debate League (SVUDL) later this month with Partners Jim Basile, Bob Falkenberg, Jan Half and Susan Hanson.  This session will help SVUDL form a pipeline plan to develop relationships with organizations serving similar middle school student populations.

3. As Grantee Village Enterprise prepares to launch a Development Impact Bond, Partners Nancy Heinen and Tony Stayner provided feedback on the pitch deck and shared advice on how to best pitch to impact investors.

4. Partner Kelly Pope is leading a technology task force with Grantee The Big Lift and has recently proposed a series of innovative technological solutions to improve efficiency and enhance student engagement. The next step will be to prioritize a few for pilot, potentially including SV2 Impact Investee Learning Genie, an edtech company serving early childhood educators.

How can I get involved?

First, please make sure that your profile is up-to-date on my.SV2. This is the first place SV2 staff and Lead Partners look when recruiting for a project because it allows us to search for the skillset identified by the Grantee or Impact Investee.

Next, keep an eye on your inbox. We will include Beyond-the-Dollars opportunities in upcoming newsletters and emails via my.SV2.

If you have any questions, email SV2’s Director of Grantee Impact, Ashley Clark.

Grantee Spotlight: Silicon Valley Urban Debate League (SVUDL)

Silicon Valley Urban Debate League (SVUDL), one of SV2’s 2016-19 Grantees, brings debate programs to low income schools in East Palo Alto, Redwood City, and San Jose, serving more than 300 students at eight schools as of Fall 2016.

Hear from the dynamic SVUDL team, who spoke at SV2’s 2016 Fall Gathering, in this video. You’ll meet Santiago, a promising young debater who has found his voice. You’ll learn more about SVUDL’S work, why we are in awe of their superstar team, and why we get energized every time we’re around these changemakers.

Through the rigor and thrill of the smart sport of debate, SVUDL helps low income youth tap the power of their voices to compete, excel, and change the world. Competitive debate fosters rhetoric and leadership skills that re-engage youth with their academics, encourage them to be leaders in their schools and communities, and prepare them for successful careers.

A number of SV2 Partners were recently trained to judge local debate tournaments. Consider joining “the team” by filling out this volunteer interest form (no experience necessary!).

The Art of Assessing Nonprofits: Deep Dive Workshop

The Art of Assessing Nonprofits, a new, interactive workshop for Partners taught by SV2 Executive Director Jen Ratay on Thurs. Feb. 2 from 10:00am – 2:00pm, will help demystify the craft of nonprofit due diligence. We’ll introduce workshop participants to an easy-to-use organizational assessment framework and key organizational health indicators that can be used both in SV2’s nonprofit due diligence process and in one’s own funding decisions.


What will you learn?

  • How to assess a grant applicant’s organizational health and capacity by analyzing its grant application materials. You’ll learn what can often be discovered about an organization’s effectiveness through public sources and written grant application materials, and what things sometimes benefit from further diligence
  • A framework for assessing nonprofit organizational effectiveness and key organizational health indicators
  • How to apply SV2’s Nonprofit Assessment Rubric
  • Ways to fine-tune your due diligence approach, taking into account variables such as grant size, funder-fundee candor and trust levels, appropriateness of various assessment depth levels, and ways you can creatively leverage other funders’ due diligence

What is expected of you?

  • Come prepared having read a brief case study of a (hypothetical) grant application, which will be shared via my.SV2 a couple days before the workshop
  • Bring your sense of humor, openness to improvisation and role-playing, willingness to share your own experience and expertise, and commitment to jointly creating a safe space for Partner-to-Partner learning
  • RSVP here

Become a Literacy Tutor with The Big Lift

SV2 Grantee The Big Lift is partnering with Experience Corps, an intergenerational volunteer-based tutoring program, by training tutors, age 50+, to teach children to read. Volunteers are needed in Kindergarten-3rd grade classes in Redwood City, Atherton, South San Francisco, and Daly City.

If you are 50+ and interested in making a lasting difference in San Mateo County students’ lives, consider attending a training session on January 10 or January 24. Learn more here.

What SV2’s reading

SV2 New Partner Guide: Check out this newly updated resource chock full of information about SV2, how to engage, and FAQ’s. A great read for new and veteran Partners alike!

The Curb-Cut Effect (Stanford Social Innovation Review): Angela Glover Blackwell draws on powerful data to show how laws and programs designed to support marginalized groups in fact benefit all of society.

Silicon Valley’s Prosperity Paradox (Business Insider): Informed by research by SV2 Partners Alexa Cortes Culwell and Heather McLeod Grant, this article digs into the staggering gap between the 76,000 millionnaires and billionnaires in Silicon Valley and underfunded community-based nonprofits, as well as how to bridge this divide.