2019-2020 Year in Review

Amidst rapidly changing circumstances, SV2 is grateful for our community of Partners, Grantees, Impact Investees, and Colleagues who are allies in our work.  The multiple challenges facing our region and world required a rapid response and pivot this year – and created opportunities to give and learn together in new ways.  

Growth in Partner Giving and Community Engagement

Engagement in SV2 events has been extremely strong throughout the year. Our Partner community participated in a wide range of learning sessions, hands on grantmaking and impact investing, and family and community philanthropy. We quickly pivoted to learn and give together virtually when gathering in person was no longer feasible. 

This year, our issue-focused learning topics included affordable housing, inclusive democracy and climate change. A range of learning workshops such as Measuring and Monitoring Nonprofit Social Impact, Taking Your Board Service to the Next Level, Impact Investing 101, and the Art of Assessing Nonprofits were held to enable more effective giving practices. We also continued our “Get Proximate” learning initiative to more deeply understand the experiences of those in our community. 

SV2 Partners engaged in hands-on grantmaking in areas of Affordable Housing, Building Opportunity and Inclusivity through the Performing Arts, Environment with a focus on the Climate Crisis, and a place-based North Fair Oaks Community Grant Round. Our monthly Impact Investing Working Group heard exciting pitches throughout the year from social entrepreneurs addressing a variety of social impact challenges. 

Family service and giving was also strong. SV2 Kids events engaged the whole family in community service opportunities – even packing bag lunches virtually together in May to help address hunger during the Covid crisis. Our SV2 Teens learned about giving and changemaking and engaged in hands-on grant making around the timely topic of Criminal Justice Reform. 

Recent results from our Partner survey validate SV2’s positive impact on giving and community engagement. Since joining SV2:  

  • 94% of SV2 Partners increased their level of knowledge about local community needs and solutions
  • 85%  experienced increased confidence in effective giving
  • 87% felt an increased ability to conduct effective diligence on social impact organizations 

Investments in Promising Social Ventures

SV2’s grant-making and impact investing provide unrestricted general operating funding and capacity building support.  Adopting funder best practices in times of crisis, SV2 provided proactive support for our Grantees facing the extraordinary challenges caused by Covid-19. For all of our Year 2 and 3 Grantees, SV2 reduced their reporting requirement and released funding on an accelerated schedule.

SV2 also invested in the impact of new promising social ventures this year with four Grant Rounds and monthly Impact Investing sessions.  This year SV2 invested almost $500,000 in new direct funding, and Partners self-reported over $800,000 in follow-on funding to organizations they learned about through SV2.

SV2 Non-profit Grantees this year are:

  • SV@Home, a recognized leader in creating multiple stakeholder collaborative solutions for Silicon Valley affordable housing, received a three year grant in our Affordable Housing Grant Round.  Thank you to our funder allies, the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, for your collaboration.   
  • BAYCAT, an organization who opens up the media industry to underrepresented storytellers, was selected as SV2’s Grantee for our Building Opportunity and Inclusivity through the Performing Arts Grant Round. Thank you to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for your generosity in financially sponsoring this Grant Round. 
  • One Life Counseling and Upward Scholars are the three year Grantees from our North Fair Oaks Community Grant Round.  At a time when mental health needs are rising, One Life Counseling provides accessible, readily available and comfortable mental health services through individual, community and school-based programs.  Upward Scholars is the only nonprofit in the Bay Area providing financial and academic support to adults struggling with economic hardship so they can transition from adult schools to community colleges and attend college part-time. Thank you to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation for your generous financial contribution to this Grant Round.
  • GridLab was selected as SV2’s Grantee for our Environment Grant Round.  GridLab provides technical grid expertise to enhance policy decision-making and to ensure a rapid transition to a reliable, cost effective, and low carbon future. Thank you to The Sand Hill Foundation and Heising-Simons for your support as funder allies. 
  • Our SV2 Teens chose restorative justice and criminal justice reform as their topic this year, and awarded grants to three inspiring organizations: Defy Ventures, Inc., Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth, and Young Women’s Freedom Center

Recent additions to our Impact Investment Portfolio are: 

  • Amped Innovation who designs and engineers affordable, high-quality solar energy products for families in developing countries needing off-grid appliances.
  • SV2 also invested in the CNote Rapid Response Fund, an impact fund addressing the specific challenges of Covid-19.  All funds will be re-loaned to small businesses through the CNote CDFI network.

We celebrate and support the innovation of this year’s Grantees and Impact Investees. Thank you to our funder allies for your support and collaboration. 

Innovating for Positive Change

In a year filled with unexpected challenges, SV2 continued to innovate new ways of giving and learning together.  This included embracing greater virtual engagement across our community while sheltering in place – to strengthen strategic giving and invest in promising social ventures at a time of unprecedented change.  SV2 was also an early signer of the Council on Foundations pledge, a call to action for philanthropy’s commitment during Covid-19.  We quickly acted to reduce Grantee reporting, accelerate the release of funding, and provide curated resources and support.

SV2 is committed to strengthening the capacity of promising social ventures to scale their impact. This year we put in place new tools and approaches to assist our Grantees improve their capacity, and focus SV2’s resources and network connections in areas that most support their long-term health and impact. And although there is still more to do, SV2 innovated new approaches this year to make our giving more equitable and inclusive.  We embedded “Get Proximate” practices into our giving to more deeply understand the experiences, challenges and opportunities of our community neighbors.  We piloted innovations in our grantmaking practices – sourcing our grantee pool from the voices of the community, and conducting  in person interviews with Executive Directors in place of written applications.  

Although our region and world face upheaval on multiple fronts, SV2 sees this as an opportunity to address challenges both from the pandemic and long standing racial injustice. As we transition from crisis relief to recovery next year, we look forward to exploring emerging possibilities to bring about a more equitable and resilient post-pandemic world.  SV2 remains committed to rethinking and innovating, and becoming more inclusive and impactful in the way we, with others, catalyze meaningful social change.