Month: August 2017

Preview of 2017-18 Program Year

We are excited about our lineup of experiential grantmaking, impact investing, and learning sessions! Whether you are a brand new Partner, veteran philanthropist, a busy professional, or all of the above, we hope you feel inspired to join us this year. Our programming has been shaped in response to your feedback and is designed to invite all of our Partners into a year of learning together and practicing effective giving in pursuit of creating a more equitable Bay Area for all.

Impact Investing: Our 2017-18 programming year is already off to a strong start, with our Impact Investing Working Group (IIWG) beginning its regular monthly meetings. Our IIWG meetings are a great way to learn alongside other Partners interested in Impact Investing. The group regularly hears pitches from social venture teams and conducts a rigorous due diligence process on promising prospective investees. All Partners are welcome to attend IIWG meetings on a drop-in, audit or ongoing basis. This year’s Impact Investing Co-Leaders are Partners Aarti Chandna, Lisa Jones, and Sayuri Sharper.

Learning Year + Grant Round: In response to feedback and learnings from last year we are also pleased to announce a combined Learning Year and Grant Round: “Pathways to Opportunity.” The Learning Year will launch on September 19 with our “Pathways to Opportunity: Kickoff Learning Session,” the first of three learning sessions focused on proven pathways out of poverty. After the learning series, participants will then choose one pathway on which to focus the spring Grant Round. This combined Learning Year and Classic Grant Round will be co-led by Partners Alison Elliott and Linda Lazor.

Interest Circles: Concurrent with our Learning Year + Grant Round, we will be offering two interest circles, Family Philanthropy and Early Childhood Education. All Partners are welcome to attend either Partner-led group as time allows. Our Family Philanthropy group is an ongoing, Partner-led group providing a safe space to explore personal experiences, successes, and challenges in an ongoing, intimate setting. This group is a great fit for Partners who have a giving vehicle, whether it is a family foundation, a donor advised fund, family office, or some other structure. Our Early Childhood Education interest circle is ideal for Partners who want to share knowledge and engagement opportunities about early learning in the Bay Area.

Lightning Grant Rounds: We are also excited to be offering two Lightning Grant Rounds this year. The first Round will focus on Youth Empowerment and will be offered in November and again in January. The second Lightning Grant Round will center on Tech Nonprofits and will be offered twice in the spring of 2018 (likely March and May).

Advocacy Learning Series: In response to Partner interest, we are launching a first-ever Advocacy Learning series, which will begin in Spring 2018. This learning series is geared towards shedding light on advocacy; our hope is that Partners will gain a stronger understanding of how they may choose to utilize advocacy as one tool among others in their philanthropic “toolkits.” The series will be comprised of multiple sessions dedicated to defining advocacy, exploring existing advocacy efforts, and clarifying what advocacy in philanthropy can look like.

Family Philanthropy: And as always, we are pleased to be offering our ever-popular SV2 Kids and SV2 Teens programs. These programs are a great way for our Partners to engage the whole family with the SV2 community through fun and experiential events. SV2 Kids is ideal for children between ages 4-12 and brings families together to engage in local community service projects that broaden the perspectives of our younger children, connect families, and spark compassion for others and a love of giving in the next generation. The SV2 Teens Program is offered to the 7th-12th grade children of Partners and is an opportunity for youth to learn about effective philanthropy, engage in meaningful service learning, and participate in hands-on grantmaking. 

A Fond Farewell & Celebration of Jen Ratay

In July, Jen Ratay, our beloved Executive Director of nearly 5 years, shared the bittersweet news that she will be stepping down on September 12. Happily, she and her family will be continuing on at SV2 as Partners. On behalf of the Board and the rest of the SV2 staff team, we are profoundly grateful for the opportunity to work with such a remarkable, visionary, and values-driven leader. Jen has put all of herself — her determination, creativity, empathy, and passion — into realizing SV2’s mission and impact. Each of us is the better for having worked with her. We’ll gather at SV2 at 1:30pm on Tuesday, Sept. 19, immediately after the Pathways to Opportunity learning session, to honor Jen and her service to SV2. We invite all Partners, Grantees/Impact Investees, and friends of SV2 to join us then (RSVP here).

Jen and her family joined SV2 as Partners in 2012, and Jen began serving as Executive Director in March 2013. Jen brought an impressive array of experience in philanthropy, social innovation, and organizational effectiveness. Just as importantly, she brought a passion for collaboration and a brave spirit for adventure, which would come in handy as she dove right into a key time of transition and growth for SV2.

Jen modeled servant leadership as she steadfastly guided SV2 through a thorough and inclusive strategic planning process that produced a truly visionary and galvanizing 2014-17 Strategic Plan. One of Jen’s trademark qualities is fearlessness in the face of something that’s never been done before. Where others might be intimidated or deterred by a blank canvas, Jen runs toward these opportunities with enthusiasm and energy. With Jen’s strong leadership, the 2014-17 Strategic Plan forged new paths for SV2 — a first-of-its kind collaborative Impact Investment Round; new programming like Lightning Grant Rounds for time-limited Partners; new branding and marketing to represent SV2’s evolution; and a thoughtful exploration and reconfiguration of our grantmaking and Beyond-the-Dollars process to ensure we are best serving our Grantees.

Given her formidable skills in organizational effectiveness, Jen has also helped SV2 become a stronger and healthier organization. As a seasoned nonprofit professional, she’s thoughtfully paired new programming innovation with rigorous attention to SV2’s financial health, governance, and organizational health. Jen shepherded SV2 from its 15th to almost 20th year, truly bringing the organization through its teenage years into adulthood. As Jen steps down, SV2 is entering into its next strategic plan and new chapter as a resilient, stable, and thriving organization thanks to her leadership.

Jen is a coach by nature, and she thrives when those around her are thriving. She is a compassionate manager and team-builder, and she has created a culture of empathy, creative collaboration, and mutual support both on the staff team and with SV2’s Partner leaders.  Finally, we’ve been grateful that Jen brings her whole self to SV2 – as a mom, a youth basketball coach, a mountain biker, a friend, and so much more. To know Jen is to have more joy in your life!

We hope you can join us on September 19 to thank Jen in person for her service to SV2. And if you can’t be there, please join us in raising a virtual glass to this dedicated, compassionate, and visionary leader. Thank you, Jen!

SV2 Response to Charlottesville and Beyond

Dear SV2 community,

Like you, the SV2 Board, Partners, staff and Grantees have been deeply disturbed and saddened by the horrific display of violence and hatred in Charlottesville, Virginia in August. We have also watched as similar displays have taken place across the country. Troublingly, these events are not isolated incidents, but an outgrowth of a larger movement fueled by racism, bigotry, and white nationalism that has no place in our Bay Area community or our country.

We stand with our neighbors whose fundamental right to live without fear is threatened by such acts. We remain heartened by the work of our grantees, who embody the fierce and relentless dedication to equity and justice that these times require. And we are renewed in our gratitude for SV2’s community of changemakers and civic leaders, in this time when standing together means more than ever.

At SV2, we’ve always believed that together we can do so much more than we can alone, and that each person’s contribution to our shared work makes it more powerful and effective. In this season, we’re aware that many Partners and community members may be responding to our social and political climate in new or different ways. You may be giving differently, thinking in new ways about equity and social justice, reading helpful articles or books, or newly aware of social impact organizations doing urgent and critical work. We’d love to know how members of the SV2 community are activated and engaged so we can all learn and benefit from each other’s care and engagement as a network. We’d also like to gauge interest in an SV2 community event or ongoing affinity group around your evolving community engagement. If you’d like to share what you are thinking, how you are engaged given recent events, and how you would like to engage through SV2, please let us know through this quick form (you may let us know anonymously, or provide your name as desired).

SV2’s vision is of a more equitable and sustainable Bay Area and world where everyone thrives.  The events in Charlottesville and across the country have fueled our deep sense of urgency as we together work toward this vision, and our knowledge that our work together matters more than ever.

In closing, here is a brief sample of reflections from grantees, peer funders and field leaders: We Stand in Solidarity with our Anti-Racist Comrades by SV2 Grantee Somos Mayfair and other Mayfair nonprofits; This is Not the Time for Silence by Fred Blackwell, CEO of the San Francisco Foundation; and Charlottesville and a Time for Gracious Anger by Vu Le.

With determination and hope,

— Team SV2

SV2’s Leadership Transition

Message from Jen Ratay, SV2 Executive Director

Dear SV2 friends and colleagues,

It is with gratitude, optimism, and sadness that I share that I will be stepping down as executive director of SV2 on September 12th. Serving at the helm of SV2 for nearly half a decade has been a profound and joy-filled privilege that has greatly enriched my life. Through SV2, I’ve been blessed to work closely with many of the most talented and committed purpose-driven individuals across the Bay Area, including the SV2 Board of Directors, staff team, Partners and their families, community and funder allies, and our heroic Grantees and Impact Investees.

Together, we’ve unleashed innovation and achieved growth and greater social impact—all in service of our vision of a more equitable and sustainable Bay Area where everyone thrives. In addition to significantly expanding SV2’s grantmaking, impact investing, donor education offerings, and field leadership, we’ve accelerated hundreds of more effective givers and social impact leaders. Together, we’ve also strengthened scores of cutting-edge social sector organizations that are improving the lives of thousands of individuals and families across the Bay Area and beyond.

In light of SV2’s strengths and health, now is a good time for a new leader to take SV2’s work to the next level. It is also the right time for me to take stock and invest more time in family before starting my next social impact-focused career adventure. SV2’s work is more important than ever, and this was a hard decision for me to make given how much I value and care for this community, the team, and the work we do together. I have immense confidence in the extraordinary SV2 Board of Directors, staff team, and Partner leaders who will lead SV2 to its best future. My husband and I look forward to remaining actively engaged with SV2 in the years ahead as SV2 Partners, just as our young children will continue to bring their enthusiasm to SV2 Kids.

Thank you for your support, friendship, and commitment to SV2’s work.

Gratefully yours in service and continued partnership,

Jen Ratay
SV2 Executive Director


Message from Bill Brownell, SV2 Board Chair

SV2 Partners and friends,

On behalf of the SV2 Board of Directors, we are extremely grateful for Jen’s nearly five years of remarkable service to our organization and community. Jen and the talented team she has built have done an outstanding job in leading SV2 through a period of innovation, growth, and accelerated impact. I will personally miss working with Jen a lot. We are happy that she will remain active at SV2 as a Partner after she steps down as our executive director. We plan to thank and celebrate Jen for her leadership at an open gathering, likely in early September, so please stay tuned for details to come.

The SV2 Board is working closely with Jen and her team to ensure a smooth leadership transition. As part of this, we are pleased to announce that long-time Partner, former board member, and current Grantmaking Officer Jody Chang has agreed to serve as Interim Executive Director after Jen steps down in mid-September. The Board Executive Committee, comprised of myself, Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, Nancy Lue, Kelly Pope, and Tony Stayner, has launched a search for SV2’s next leader with the assistance of Carlson Beck Executive Search. We are conducting a careful, thorough search to find a talented leader who can help take SV2 to the next level of growth and impact. During this process, we will be reaching out to many members of our community for input on our next leader. If you have input on the search, please do not hesitate to contact me or our search director Sally Carlson.

As we enter our 20th anniversary year, SV2 is healthy, thriving, innovative, and increasingly high-impact. SV2’s strength arises from the shared leadership across Partners, staff, the SV2 Board, allies, and many others in the growing SV2 community. On behalf of the SV2 Board of Directors, thank you for your continued support of SV2’s mission and impact.


Bill Brownell
SV2 Board Chair

Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund (SV2) makes largest grant and impact investment awards in its history while educating emerging philanthropists

REDWOOD CITY – Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund (SV2) is pleased to announce more than $500,000 worth of grants and investments in local nonprofit and social enterprises in 2016-17. SV2 is a Silicon Valley-based community of more than 200 individuals who learn about effective giving as they pool their resources to support innovative nonprofits and social enterprises. Founded in 1998, SV2 has provided $5.7 million in direct funding to 92 nonprofits and social enterprises, the majority of which are based in and focused on Silicon Valley. In many cases, SV2 donors, known as partners, also collaborate with grantees and investees as strategic advisors or skilled volunteers.

Leading the list of this year’s grantees is the Oakland-based Stride Center slated to receive $175,000 over three years which will enable the Stride Center to expand their programs to serve more communities throughout the South Bay.

SV2 also awarded grants of $30,000 to four locally-based nonprofits: CollegeSpring, Destination: Home, SV@Home, and uAspire. This year, SV2 also continued its impact investment donor education initiative, resulting in investments in two additional for-profit social enterprises, Learners Guild, an intensive programming bootcamp creating new on-ramps to careers in tech, and OpenInvest, an automated investment advisor offering values-aligned portfolio management. SV2 also made several capacity-building grants, including three through the SV2 Teens program in which the teenage children of partners learn about philanthropy, the local nonprofit sector, and conduct their own grantmaking process. 2017 SV2 Teens grantees include: BuildOn, Khan Academy, and Multicultural Institute.

Unlike in traditional private or community foundations, SV2 partners actively power the grantmaking process, forming separate groups, each focused on researching a specific Silicon Valley issue area and rigorously assessing the organizations that apply for grants with guidance from a small professional staff and outside experts. This year, donor learning and grantmaking groups formed around employment, education, and affordable housing.

“We’re thrilled to unleash both the financial and human capital of the SV2 partner community, resulting in more educated, inspired donors and more grant and impact investment dollars than ever this year. Our newest grantees represent bright lights in creating a more equitable and sustainable Bay Area where everyone thrives,” said Jen Ratay, SV2 Executive Director.

This year, SV2’s economic opportunity & employment grant round focused on career training, considering nonprofit organizations that provide professional development and job placement support. The group selected The Stride Center, an employment training center that provides various levels of technical certification programs to low-income men and women in Oakland, Santa Clara, San Jose, and San Pablo. Program participants gain industry-recognized technical skills and are then poised to start thriving careers in the information technology field. The Stride Center empowers participants, regardless of economic background, to pursue new professional opportunities that set them up for financial success and economic self-sufficiency.

“At the Stride Center, we anticipate that working with SV2 will position us for steady growth, expansion throughout the South Bay, and ongoing high quality services for those we serve. The combination of SV2’s unrestricted funding, significant network, and engaged partners provides a well-timed collaboration given the accelerating need in the Bay Area,” said Barrie Hathaway, Executive Director for The Stride Center.

SV2’s affordable housing grantmaking group vetted local foundation-recommended nonprofits working to increase access to housing opportunities in the Bay Area throughout the spring of 2017. SV2 partner donors narrowed the list to several finalists and selected two grantees, SV@Home and Destination: Home. SV@Home is a membership organization advocating for policies, programs, and funding that support an increased supply of affordable housing in Silicon Valley. They also educate elected officials and the broader community about the importance of affordable housing in creating thriving communities. Destination: Home is a public-private partnership serving as the backbone organization for collective impact strategies to end homelessness in Santa Clara County. Through their work, they drive and align resources to create permanent housing and sustainable support systems.

“SV2’s unrestricted funding will allow us to play an even more significant role in building systems-level solutions to end homelessness throughout Santa Clara County,” shared Jennifer Loving, Destination: Home’s Executive Director.

Through the education group, SV2 partners awarded grants to uAspire and CollegeSpring, two organizations whose work propels students to enter and afford college. uAspire works to remove the financial barriers to college access by embedding their College Affordability Advisors in high schools. Advisors support and mentor students one-on-one to provide them with the resources and information they need to make informed choices about where to go to college and how to pay for it. CollegeSpring provides test prep and near-peer mentorship programs to help students excel at the ACT and SAT. By equipping students with the academic skills to do well on college entrance tests, CollegeSpring is helping to close the college achievement gap for low income students.

SV2 partners also conducted rigorous due diligence to select and invest in two for-profit social ventures this year. OpenInvest is a San Francisco-based Public Benefit Corporation that enables socially conscious investors to build a financial portfolio around companies that embody their values. Learners Guild, an Oakland-based social enterprise, trains anyone who has the desire and aptitude to become a software engineer in an immersive 10-month instructional program. Their innovative coding bootcamp and cost-sharing model create new on-ramps to the software engineering field and a more inclusive workforce.

SV2 partner and impact investing co-leader, Tony Stayner asserts, “Each investment not only impacts beneficiaries directly, but also has the potential to catalyze entire sectors. The powerful ripple effect of SV2’s field-leading work is inspiring SV2 partners – and others – to align their investments with their values for positive social change.”