History of TSFF

The San Francisco Foundation’s History

The San Francisco Foundation reflects the vibrant philanthropic spirit of the Bay Area.

In 1948, a small group of forward-looking civic leaders, led by the late Daniel Koshland, started The San Francisco Foundation with the help of a small founding grant from The Columbia Foundation. “Mr. Koshland and his colleagues sought a vehicle to pull the community together to create pride and unity and improve quality of life,” says former Foundation CEO Sandra R. Hernández, M.D., noting that this basic mission continues to this day.

From these visionary beginnings, The San Francisco Foundation has become one of the nation’s largest community foundations awarding grants totaling more than $808 million over the past ten years. This growth reflects both strong fiscal stewardship and a vibrant philanthropic spirit in San Francisco and the Bay Area.

We believe change happens through people, organizations, neighborhoods, and policy. We are an incubator for creative thinkers; our expert program staff uses their intimate knowledge of the region to cut quickly to the essence of issues affecting the community. As a catalyst for change, our mission extends beyond grantmaking. We harness our broad knowledge, local expertise, and extensive relationships to address complex issues facing the region. Through special projects and partnerships, we collaborate with community-based organizations, government, other foundations, and donors to create new approaches to meeting the Bay Area’s ever-changing needs.

We believe in funding risky, innovative ideas, and through our visionary approach, we’ve seeded organizations that are now cornerstones of Bay Area life, including KQED, The Trust for Public Land, Bridge Housing, and On Lok Senior Health Services. Join us, and together we will make a greater impact, and create opportunity for generations of Bay Area families.