This year, SV2 hosted our first-ever place-based Grant Round in a particular geography: the North Fair Oaks community in San Mateo County. As part of SV2’s Pathways to Opportunity initiative, this Grant Round looked at the overlapping levers of Education, Workforce Development, and Basic Needs — all of which provide proven pathways out of poverty. In previous years, Grant Rounds have focused on one or two of these levers, or looked at them through the lens of “early life” (birth to age 8). For the North Fair Oaks Community Grant Round, we looked at all three levers, bounded by this particular geography. Partners Rachel Klausner and Kwok Lau co-led the Round with staff member Jody Chang.
This Grant Round was full of innovative experimentation! We integrated “Get Proximate” experiences into the Round itself, with walking tours of North Fair Oaks, and participation in a library open mic event in the community. We substituted in-person “coffee chats” with the Executive Directors in place of written grant applications. And of course, we took the whole Grant Round virtual once Shelter-in-Place began. After an engaged learning and diligence process, Partners selected two outstanding organizations as Grantees. One Life Counseling and Upward Scholars will each receive a grant of $75,000, given over three years, along with beyond-the-dollars support. In addition, Community Schools was awarded a finalist grant of $20,000.
One Life Counseling provides individual and group therapy, both to private clients and through community and school-based programs. They provide mental health services to schools in Redwood City and North Fair Oaks, offering group therapy to “newcomers” — recent immigrants who have experienced trauma. They believe that “access to mental health services should be easily accessible, readily available and comfortable,” and have pivoted to offering services virtually through the pandemic.
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. As a result of their work, students continue their education, get higher paying jobs, and serve as role models and advocates for their children. They provide financial assistance to cover students’ textbooks and transportation to college, laptops, tutors, mentors, and additional support services.
SV2 Partners appreciated both organizations’ focus on North Fair Oaks residents through direct service with a ripple effect: as students receive mental health services, they are better able to succeed in school and life, and as adult scholars successfully transition to the next phase of their education, they earn more to support their families and inspire their children to succeed as well. Join us in welcoming these effective and impactful organizations to the SV2 Portfolio!