Year: 2017

Hit Replay: Pathways to Opportunity – Community Schools Learning Session Recordings

Our Pathways to Opportunity – Community Schools Learning Session was the second in a three-part series. Our excellent panel of speakers explored the community school model and discussed how this model builds strong connections with parents while also offering various services for families and adults such as job training and legal or housing assistance. The session was facilitated by Partner co-Leaders Alison Elliott and Linda Lazor. In order to share this dynamic session with as many Partners as possible, we are sharing the video of the panel on our YouTube channel (embedded below).

Like what you’ve heard? Join us for our next session, Workforce Development & Career Pathways, coming up on November 2nd, RSVP here.

Hit Replay: Pathways to Opportunity Kickoff Recordings

Our Pathways to Opportunity Kickoff Session, the first of a three-part series, explored several key levers in creating greater pathways to opportunity, including education and workforce development. Partner co-Leaders Alison Elliott and Linda Lazor skillfully introduced and facilitated our excellent panel of speakers. In order to share this dynamic session with as many Partners as possible, we are sharing the full audio recording (embedded below), as well as a video of the panel on our YouTube channel.

Like what you’ve heard? Join us for our next session, Community Schools – An Integrated Approach, coming up on October 12th, RSVP here.

Resilient Youth Lightning Grant Round Kicks off in February

We are proud to announce that SV2’s newest  Lightning Grant Round will be focused on increasing opportunities for Resilient Youth (previously called At-Risk Youth), an issue in which Partners expressed interest in our recent all-Partner survey. This Round will be led by SV2 Board Member Shalyn Eason with staff support from Ashley Clark.

What do we mean by Resilient Youth? Resilient youth are young people, ages 14 to 26, who face significant barriers to life success. This population  could include foster youth, homeless/formerly homeless youth, disconnected young adults who are neither working nor in school, and incarcerated and formerly incarcerated young adults. This is a particularly vulnerable population where intervention and the right supports at the right time can transform life trajectories.

What is a Lightning Grant Round?

Lightning Grant Rounds are a shortened grantmaking experience, taking place over four to six weeks with only two in-person meetings. For the Lightning Rounds, SV2 collaborates with funder allies who nominate organizations from their own portfolios and share their diligence materials with us. Working with funder allies lessens the burden for nonprofits and allows Partners to learn how to conduct due diligence from experienced philanthropy professionals. For this Round, we’re delighted to work with the Walter S. Johnson Foundation and the California Wellness Foundation.

During Lightning Rounds, participating Partners have the opportunity to research 6-7 organizations in the sector, learn from other funders about these organizations and their grantmaking processes, hear presentations from the leaders of three finalist organizations, and collectively select a single Grantee. Lightning Round Grantees receive a one-year general operating support grant of up to $30,000, and participating Partners get to engage in a fantastic hands-on learning experience!

This sounds amazing! Tell me how to sign up…

In-person meetings for this spring’s Lightning Grant Round will be on Thursday, February 1 and Thursday, February 15 from 12:00pm-2:30pm at SV2. The Round will kick-off in early January, before the first meeting, with diligence pre-work, which includes reading and optional conference calls with our funder allies.

What’s the deadline?

Because of the pre-work, we ask that you RSVP for this Round as soon as possible but no later than January 5 by emailing Ashley Clark.

SV2 Teens is Back – Apply Today!

The SV2 Teens Philanthropy program, now going into its tenth year, engages 7th-12th grade children of SV2 Partners in hands-on learning about philanthropy, the nonprofit sector, and local community organizations. SV2 Teens got some fabulous media coverage in Gentry Magazine’s Philanthropy edition this past spring. This year’s program will build on last year’s high-powered philanthropy curriculum and hands-on site visits, and will include refreshed content. Teens are encouraged to fill out the brief application form here as soon as possible to let us know of your interest.

The Teens program officially kicks off on January 21, 2018 – but we will also have a pre-meeting on December 3 from 1:30-3:00pm, at which this year’s grantmaking focus area will be selected. Any teen is welcome to attend the December 3 pre-meeting, and all teens who are interested in serving as leaders should plan to attend. Please RSVP here for the December 3 pre-meeting. Read more about the program, including meeting dates and descriptions, on our website here.

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

Impact Investee Highlight: OpenInvest

We’re thrilled to introduce OpenInvest, our latest Impact Investee. OpenInvest received a one-time $50,000 investment and will have the opportunity to work with Lead Partners to explore additional ways of collaborating with the SV2 partnership throughout the next 12 months.

OpenInvest is a Public Benefit Corporation offering a transparent, values-oriented alternative to traditional investment portfolios. Using technology, OpenInvest tailors investment portfolios according to the specific values of investors to help promote social and environmental good. Learn more about OpenInvest here.

SV2 Presents: Pathways to Opportunity

In response to feedback from Partners and building on last year’s learning and grantmaking, we are pleased to announce a combined Learning Year and Grant Round: “Pathways to Opportunity.” This fall will kick off with three learning sessions focused on proven pathways out of poverty. Participants will then choose one pathway on which to focus the spring Grant Round.

Pathways to Opportunity will be co-led by Partners Alison Elliott and Linda Lazor, and supported by staff Lisa Van Dusen and Jody Chang. Learning sessions in September, October and November will focus on providing research and learning on poverty and equity issues, including Education and Workforce Development. In December, Partners will have an opportunity to discuss learnings from the fall and choose a pathway on which to focus the Grant Round. Details are still being planned, but stay tuned for some creative approaches including a possible “Pitch Night” as part of this Round in the spring. Partners who want to take a deeper dive are invited to join a working group which will engage in additional landscape research this fall and winter in preparation for the Grant Round.

Note that all Partners are welcome to treat this Pathways to Opportunity year in the spirit of a buffet. We encourage you to pick and choose what interests you and works for your schedule from attending all the learning sessions and participating in the grant round to joining in select learning sessions and/or grant round sessions as suits you.  We will be recording all learning sessions (video) and grant round meetings (audio) so that you can catch up if you miss a session. We look forward to sharing what promises to be an informative and high-impact year focusing on Pathways to Opportunity together.

Please contact Alison or Linda if you have questions or suggestions about the year, or are interested in participating in the Round. We are excited about our opportunity to come together this fall and learn about issues driving the growing inequality in our society.  More information including meeting dates will be publicized as soon as guest speakers are confirmed. We’re excited about this systems-level approach and hope you will join us and encourage others to join in as well.