Spring Connections Recap

On April 4th, Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund (SV2) and Redwood City Together co-hosted our Spring Connections event, Community Impact and Celebration Night: Teamwork Energizing Systems Change. The event highlighted the power of collective impact, as over 150 community-based organizations and leaders, community members, and SV2 Donor Partners came together for a night of open dialogue, guided discussions, and celebration.

The partnership between Redwood City Together and SV2 sprang out of the Community Initiative Grant, which is an unrestricted grant of $500,000 over three years, provided last year to Redwood City Together. Redwood City Together advances the success of youth and families in Redwood City and North Fair Oaks through community collaboration. This collaboration involves bringing together the various leaders in the community, all of whom are tackling complex issues differently, and forming partnerships across the sectors. Rafael Avendaño, Executive Director of Redwood City Together, highlighted that the spring connections event was what Redwood City Together had envisioned when beginning its work with SV2. He spoke about his goal of having everyone in community working together toward the collective success of the Redwood City and North Fair Oaks communities, sharing, “This event is that dream in action.” 

David Onek, CEO of SV2, echoed this sentiment, and in particular, highlighted the collaborative sessions that have been held during which Redwood City Together staff, SV2 staff, and SV2 Donor Partners have worked together to problem solve, share insights and resources, and learn about the community. 

Participants had the chance to engage with collective impact in action, as they heard stories from leaders in the community and then brainstormed at their table groups around resources and solutions. One of the stories that resonated with many attendees was from Dr. Linda Prieto, Executive Director of Upward Scholars, a Latina-led organization that provides adult immigrants the boost they need to move up the economic ladder through financial, academic, career development, and holistic support. Prieto talked about a program Upward Scholars provides to support adult immigrants in fulfilling the requirements to become certified child care providers. Prieto mentioned that some of the women in this program had not been able to fulfill the internship requirement due to their documentation status. To tackle this barrier, Upward Scholars partnered with Family Connections, another local organization, to create an internship through which these women could obtain the necessary experience to become  certified childcare providers. Prieto spoke about the importance of partnerships like this between community organizations as one of the ways that nonprofits can create practical solutions and better serve their community. This example too highlighted collective impact in action: collaboration between community organizations, sometimes organizations that span a range of sectors, that leads to creative solutions. 

Brittny Bottorff, an SV2 Donor Partner, noted “I especially enjoyed the table discussions as that allowed me to connect with others in a meaningful way and to engage with the topics presented by the speakers.” 

Throughout the event, attendees connected around food as local vendors, including a cake pop artist and boba tea maker, served their creations alongside dinner. Redwood City’s own José Castro painted a mural inspired by attendees’ responses to questions about collective impact, his artwork showcasing the diverse opinions and voices represented at the event. During the reception, eleven community-based organizations that are all core agencies of the Redwood City Together collective impact initiative hosted tables to share more about their work, how they collaborate, and how attendees can get involved. The organizations included the following:

  • Community Alliance to Revitalize Our Neighborhood (CARON) fosters trust and mutual understanding between the community and the Sheriff’s Office through positive relationships, educational programs, community participation and collaboration, and shared resources.
  • El Concilio increases education, employment, and access to quality of life services in San Mateo County.
  • Family Connections provides free high-quality, whole-family education, paired with in-depth whole family support in the Peninsula.
  • Friends for Youth safely and expertly matches adult volunteers with youth who need support through two mentoring programs: 1-to-1 Mentoring and School-Based, Group Mentoring in San Mateo and Northern Santa Clara Counties.
  • IDEAL Redwood City (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Leadership) operationalizes and institutionalizes the City’s focus on equity.
  • Pal Center merges public safety and service providers with community resources and Pal Center programming to provide equitable enrichment opportunities focused on wellness and mentorship, which improve life outcomes for families.
  • Redwood City Together collaborates with partners to improve education, wellness, and equity in Redwood City and North Fair Oaks communities.
  • San Mateo County Health administers public health programs and provides clinical and supportive services to the community, to help everyone in San Mateo County live longer and better lives.
  • Siena Youth Center of the St. Francis Center Redwood City offers youth a positive, safe, happy place to become or stay healthy, to interact with others in the community, to receive mentorship, and to provide leadership.
  • Upward Scholars provides adult immigrants the boost they need to move up the economic ladder through education and career development support.
  • The YMCA builds healthy, confident, connected children, adults, and families in North Fair Oaks, Redwood City, and beyond.

Melissa Stevenson Diaz, City Manager of Redwood City, presented awards to the community-based organizations and thanked them for their powerful impact on the community. 

Attendees were also treated to two performances from local youth: “A Letter to Myself in Five Years,” a poetic performance from Dream Club and Redwood City’s own Afro-Brazilian Youth Drumming group SECOYAXE. These performances spotlighted local talent and centered the voices of youth in the community.

Iliana Garcia, an SV2 Grantee Partner and members of the  Redwood City Together Core Team, noted “Ivan and I were so delighted to have shared space with you all …my cup was filled that night. We are truly so grateful and excited to continue our collaborative work alongside you and our exceptional partners.”

Amy Badiani, SV2’s Director of Community Engagement, wrapped up the event by asking everyone to call out one word as they reflected on the evening. “Powerful” shouted one person. “Connection” shouted another. “Community.” “Motivating.” “Inspiring.” The evening further cemented the power of collective impact and gave all attendees the opportunity to see this collective impact in action.