I grew up in a small border town in California that is over 95 percent Latino. I visit Calexico every month to be with my parents for a weekend. For a year now, I have seen the level of anxiety increase significantly in my hometown as more uncertainty and confusion grows around the direction of immigration.
Several of you in our donor community attended the foundation’s post-election session in early December. That event gave me hope by demonstrating that our donor community is ready to stand together and support the type of civic engagement that led to victories in the civil rights movement, farmworker protection, and marriage equality.
In late 2016, The San Francisco Foundation launched a new approach to deploy resources in response to either unanticipated opportunities or challenges around racial and economic equity. With the Bay Area and the nation in the midst of change, leaders at the forefront of social justice need to respond urgently to issues that disproportionately affect key populations such as immigrants, women, people of color, low-wage workers and the LGBT community.
The Rapid Response Fund was established to provide one-time, small grants of $3,000 to $15,000 within 30 days or less of receiving a request from a community-based organization. The nature of the fund gives priority to requests from small or emerging grassroots organizations working to advance full racial and economic inclusion.
Since November, the Rapid Response Fund has supported organizations across the Bay Area with 24 grants, totaling $267,000. (We received 81 proposals requesting a total of over $ $1.1 million, so you can see the need is great.) The majority of grants have been in support of immigrant rights through advocacy, education, and access to legal services. As a result, many organizations have been able to offer “Know Your Rights” workshops so that immigrant communities will be able to assert their Constitutional rights. For example, one of the grants to Mission Graduates will enable them to offer “Know Your Rights” workshops at 14 school sites in the San Francisco Unified School District.
The majority of these grants have aligned with our stance and been in support of immigrant rights through advocacy, education and access to legal services.
Another focus has been protecting civil rights and guarding against the increases in bullying and harassment of Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian communities.
Bringing like minded donors together, the Rapid Response Fund is an opportunity to give collectively, take action, and have a greater impact. For individual donors, the fund provides strategic advantages, including:
- Seeing with a wide lens – seeing how a group of organizations is working on the same issue or within the same community, foundation staff can make connections to amplify their impact.
- Lifting up local leadership – the fund has been an avenue for smaller grassroots organizations that typically have limited access to philanthropic dollars.
- Investing in the best opportunities – foundation staff vet all incoming requests for urgency, potential for immediate impact, and community leadership.
How to Join Fellow Donors in Responding
We have had several donors donate to the Fund. With so much at stake, we are receiving an influx of requests and there are many groups waiting to hear from us. To join with the foundation and fellow donors, you can make a grant recommendation from your donor advised fund to The San Francisco Foundation for our Rapid Response Fund. We will keep you informed about the grants we make with your support.
We are grateful for your consideration and thank you again for your partnership and support to improve the lives of people across the Bay Area.
Vice President of Development and Donor Services