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.”