Month: February 2017

The Big Think-A-Thon: You’re Invited

We’re gearing up for our second annual Big Think-A-Thon, SV2’s Spring Gathering, on Tuesday, May 2 from 6:00-9:00pm at the SV2 office. We’ll hear rapid-fire presentations from our Grantees and Impact Investees on a specific challenge they are facing and then dive into brainstorming actionable solutions together. We’ll also have plenty of time to connect with new and old friends and celebrate the recipient of the 2017 Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen Social Impact Award. RSVP today!

The Big Think-A-Thon will spotlight nine of our spectacular Grantees and Impact Investees. In 90-second presentations, Grantees & Impact Investees will share a challenge with which they’re wrestling right now. Check out this video from last year’s Big Think-A-Thon to see this in action. Then, we’ll harness the collective knowledge and talent in the room as attendees join in small group conversations with Grantees & Impact Investees to generate solutions together.

In addition to rolling up our sleeves on these challenges, we’ll also connect over hors d’oeuvres and drinks. And we’ll honor one outstanding SV2 Partner who will receive the 2017 Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen Social Impact Award for his or her contributions to SV2’s social impact and community. If you’d like to nominate a fellow Partner for the Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen Social Impact Award, email this form to Jen Ratay by Sunday, March 12.

This event will stretch your creative and problem-solving muscles, fuel your inspiration, and deepen your relationships across the SV2 community, including with Grantees & Impact Investees. Grantees & Impact Investees will walk away with actionable ideas and everyone will leave with new connections and renewed energy for making positive social impact in our Bay Area community and beyond. We hope to see you there!


Grantee Spotlight: Somos Mayfair

SV2’s 2014-15 Education Grant Round winner, Somos Mayfair, works to support the residents of the Mayfair neighborhood in east San Jose in achieving their dreams and battling systemic inequities by promoting early literacy and fostering the wellbeing of families through social services, cultural activism, and community organizing. In this challenging political climate, Somos has been an invaluable resource for the more than 1,600 youth and families that the organization serves in the Mayfair community.

So what’s new with Somos? Somos Mayfair was recently featured in The Giving Code report published by Open Impact as an example of a strong, local community-based nonprofit that is seeing increased need for its services at a time when it is very difficult to acquire flexible, multi-year funding for its work.  Somos’ Executive Director Camille Llanes-Fontanilla has shared her perspectives with funder and nonprofit audiences at Giving Code workshops and learning sessions up and down the peninsula this winter.  You can even check out Camille in the second part of an upcoming SSIR webinar series on March 7 entitled “The Giving Code: Solutions for Bridging the Gaps.”

What else? Lead Partners Kwok Lau and Mark Wilson recently met with the Somos Team to share feedback on some innovative new ideas for monetizing the expertise the organization has gained from its promotora model and launching a new pilot cooperative to improve the economic opportunities of its promotores.

Somos is also getting ready to celebrate its 20th anniversary! Consider sponsoring or attending Somos Mayfair’s upcoming 20th anniversary event – Gracias a la Vida, May 18, 2017 from 5:30 to 8:30pm at the School of Arts & Culture at the Mexican Heritage Plaza. Contact Jessica Paz-Cedillos for more information.

Welcome, Destination:Home and SV@Home

SV2 just wrapped up its first-ever Affordable Housing Lightning Grant Rounds, and we are pleased to introduce you to our most recent Grantees: Destination:Home and SV@Home.

Destination:Home won the November Round, and SV@Home won the January Round — each organization will receive a $30,000 general operating support grant from SV2, as well as light-touch Beyond-the-Dollars Support.

Destination:Home is 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.

SV@Home is a membership organization that advocates for policies, programs, land use, and funding which lead to an increased supply of affordable housing in Silicon Valley. Partners were drawn to the important advocacy role that SV@Home plays in educating the public and elected officials about the need for housing, and the link between housing and other quality of life outcomes, including education, health, transportation and the environment. Leslye Corsiglia, SV@Home’s Executive Director, has been active in the housing sector at the city, county, state and national levels throughout her career.

We’re thrilled to welcome these two stellar organizations to SV2’s portfolio!

Launching Strategic Planning

As we approach the end of the third and final year of SV2’s 2014-17 strategic plan, the Board of Directors is gearing up for its next strategic planning process to define SV2’s next stage of growth and social impact. Save the date to join us to offer your ideas and input on SV2’s future at either of two Partner and community-wide workshops – lunch on May 11 (RSVP) and dinner on May 16 (RSVP).

SV2 is pleased to be working with Open Impact who will help guide the SV2 Board of Directors through an inclusive strategic planning and business modeling process.

A Strategic Planning Steering Committee, made up of Board Members Lisa Jones, Kelly Pope, Tony Stayner, and Paru Yusuf, and led by Board Chair Bill Brownell, is leading this work, and will ultimately make a slate of recommendations to the full Board regarding SV2’s vision and goals to guide the organization for the next several years.

We can’t complete this process without your valuable input. We will solicit Partner feedback through a community survey in March and two interactive Partner workshops at SV2 in May. The first workshop will be held on Thursday, May 11 from 11:30am – 1:30pm (RSVP); the second will be held on Tuesday, May 16 from 6:30-8:30pm (RSVP). We’ll also gather feedback from SV2’s Grantees and Impact Investees over the coming months to incorporate their perspectives as we shape our plan.

If you have any ideas that you’d like to share or questions about the process, feel free to reach out to any of the Steering Committee members listed above. We look forward to diving into this work with all of you!


SV2 Board of Directors Openings

Are you passionate about SV2?  Might you be interested in helping steward SV2 through its next chapter? We’re pleased to announce that SV2 will have seats on the Board of Directors to be filled this Spring.

There will be an open application process – any Partner who is interested in serving on the SV2 Board will need to fill out the Statement of Interest form.   If you are interested in applying, please email your completed form to the chair of SV2’s Nominating & Governance Board Committee, Nancy Lue, by April 21, 2017. The Nominating & Governance Committee will review all Statements of Interest in May and will be in touch with applicants individually at that time.

New Board members will attend a Board orientation over the summer, and begin serving on the Board in Fall 2017. If you have any questions about the SV2 Board or the Board application process, please contact Nancy Lue or Board Chair Bill Brownell.

Join SV2 Kids on May 6

Want to volunteer together with your family and learn about local nonprofits together? The SV2 Kids program is a hands-on service learning program for SV2 Partners and prospective Partners with children ages 4-12. Our next service opportunity is at the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge in San Jose on Saturday, May 6 from 10:00am-12:00pm. RSVP today!


Also, check out some photos from the SV2 Kids’ event with the Palo Alto Humane Society in February (pictured left, album link here).

The Role of Philanthropy in Advancing Equity

As funders, we strive to help solve entrenched social challenges. And yet, we don’t often engage in courageous learning and honest discussion about the deep historical context that creates opportunities for some in our country and the lack of opportunities for others. How can we best ensure that our philanthropic efforts are having the intended effect if we aren’t curiously and critically exploring the systemic inequity issues that lie under the surface of our charitable investments?

On Thursday, March 9 from 12:00 – 2:00 p.m., SV2 will convene leading philanthropy practitioners to talk about what equity is and why it’s important and to share insights from their personal and organizational equity journeys: Fred Blackwell, CEO of The San Francisco Foundation; Ellen LaPointe, President and CEO of Northern California Grantmakers; and Justin Steele, Principal at RSVP here.

We’ll explore how we can all play an active role, both as concerned citizens and funders, in advancing equity, and we’ll tackle some of the following questions and more:

  • What is equity? Why should we care about it?
  • What happens when we don’t explicitly focus on it?
  • What does a focus on equity look like in practice for an individual and/or an organization?

Grantee Spotlight: Village Enterprise

Village Enterprise, a 2015-18 SV2 Grantee, works to end extreme poverty in rural east Africa through entrepreneurship and innovation. Since their founding in 1987, Village Enterprise has started over 33,000 businesses and trained over 136,000 East African business owners, ultimately touching over 700,000 lives. We’re honored to work with this pioneering organization, whose work has recently been lauded on an international stage by ImpactMatters and The Life You Can Save. And hear from Village Enterprise’s Board Chair at SV2’s 2015 Fall Gathering in this video to learn more about their inspiring work.

Village Enterprise serves individuals living in extreme poverty on less than $1.90/day. Village Enterprise’s indigenous staff provide a year of rigorous business training, a micro-grant of $150 to start a business, ongoing mentoring, and a group business savings program. After a year of business training and saving,  entrepreneurs in Village Enterprise’s program have on average doubled their personal savings, increased their food security by 178%, and increased their overall standard of living by 35%.

Village Enterprise has received several impressive accolades in recent months. They received a top rating in a rigorous “Impact Audit” through ImpactMatters, which identifies nonprofits that offer the best return on charitable dollars.  The Life You Can Save, which promotes effective giving through focusing on extreme poverty, also identified Village Enterprise as a top charity. In receiving each of these honors, Village Enterprise was lauded for their cost-effective model, evidence-based methodology, rigorous monitoring, and dedication to continuous learning and innovation.

SV2 is thrilled to work with Village Enterprise.  Many SV2 Partners, led by Lead Partners Nancy Heinen and Jill Olson, have engaged in Beyond-the-Dollars projects with their stellar team. Several Partners – including Lyn Christenson, Travis Culwell, Lucy Caldwell Donovan, Nancy Heinen, Jill Olson, and Sherilyn Stolz – partnered with Village Enterprise to beta-test and provide feedback on their new website. And as Village Enterprise prepared to launch a Development Impact Bond, Nancy Heinen and Tony Stayner provided feedback on the pitch deck and shared advice on how to best pitch to impact investors. We are grateful to be able to work with Village Enterprise for another year and a half, and we look forward to all the amazing work that is to come!

Introducing our newest Impact Investee: Learners Guild

SV2 is pleased to introduce our newest Impact Investee. After careful due diligence by a team of SV2 Partners, SV2 has made an investment of $62,500 in Learners Guild, based in Oakland, California. Learners Guild is a for-profit social enterprise that aims to train anyone who has the desire and aptitude to become a software engineer in an immersive 10-month program.

For those who are financially challenged, Learners Guild is a much needed alternative to getting a Computer Science degree at a four-year college. It also provides a much more in-depth training than typical 10-12 week coding bootcamps, which are more suited to those that already have a college degree.

Learners who enroll in Learners Guild can attend the program tuition free and receive up to $1,500 per month of living allowance in exchange for income sharing, which kicks in only if the learner gets a job that pays more than $50,000/year. Because Learners Guild does not derive any income from learners unless they succeed, its goals are aligned with those of the learners.

Learners Guild is founded by Shereef Bishay, who also founded the original coding bootcamp, Dev Bootcamp, which was subsequently acquired by Kaplan. Shereef is passionate about creating a path for those from underserved communities to become top notch coders, and he raised $6 million from leading impact venture funds, including Learn Capital, Obvious Ventures, and Kapor Capital, to start Learners Guild.

SV2 Partner and Impact Investing Working Group member Sayuri Sharper is the Lead Partner for Learners Guild. Please contact Sayuri if you have any questions or are interested in joining a possible site visit that is open to all SV2 Partners.

Know an SV2 Partner who has gone above and beyond?

No doubt you do! You can now thank and honor them by nominating them for the 2017 Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen Social Impact Award. Each year, this award is presented to a person who has gone above and beyond in their work with SV2. Any SV2 Partner may nominate another Partner for the 2017 award using this form. Please submit your nominations to Jen Ratay by Sunday, March 12. The award will be presented at SV2’s Big Think-A-Thon on May 2.

Nomination process & deadline: The SV2 Board Executive Committee will serve as the selection committee, and the award recipient will be announced at SV2’s Spring Gathering: The Big Think-A-Thon on Tuesday, May 2. Any SV2 Partner may nominate another Partner for the 2017 award by March 12.

Past award recipients: Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen (2010), Mark Parnes (2011), Laura Lauder (2012), Nancy Heinen (2015) and Kelly Pope (2016). In SV2’s 15th anniversary year (2013-14), the awardees were a group of SV2 Pioneers, Partners without whom SV2 would not be what it is today: Susan Ford Dorsey, Marcia & John Goldman, Ted & Kathleen Kelly Janus, Karla & Steve Jurvetson, Charlene & Derry Kabcenell, Jeff Skoll, Lisa Sobrato Sonsini, and Akiko Yamazaki & Jerry Yang.