CLA: Frequently Asked Questions

The San Francisco Foundation Community Leadership Awards honor visionary and dedicated leaders who are doing extraordinary work and addressing critical issues in the Bay Area.

The Community Leadership Awards showcase individual and organizational excellence in leadership as demonstrated by deep local understanding, outstanding initiative, and innovative and measurable solutions. With each award, The San Francisco Foundation honors our community’s remarkable achievements, and hopes to inspire all of us in our work in service to the Bay Area communities.

Please see below for further information about the awards:


Individuals and Organizations
Individuals and nonprofit organizations in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo Counties may be nominated.

Individual nominees from all sectors – from government agencies, nonprofits, corporations, or the private sector – are eligible for these awards. Nominations for emerging and innovative leadership, as well as longstanding accomplishments, are encouraged.

Previous Community Leadership Awardees
Previous Community Leadership Award winners are ineligible. A complete list of past winners is on The San Francisco Foundation’s website.


There are two award categories – for individuals and for organizations. Organizations can apply for the Impact Award or Innovation Award. Individuals can apply for the Art Award or the Service Award.


Art Award: made to an artist who has made a significant and ongoing contribution in the Bay Area and whose work has served to activate and inspire social advancements. In honor of Helen Crocker Russell.

Service Awardmade to an individual in recognition of outstanding community service, commitment, and inspired leadership. In honor of Robert C. Kirkwood.


TSFF Impact Award: made to a current or former TSFF grant recipient demonstrating exemplary commitment to creating greater equity and opportunity in the Bay Area.

Innovation Awarda community choice award – made to an organization undertaking a pioneering effort to address a major contemporary problem, noteworthy because of the creativity and innovation employed. In honor of John R. May.


The Innovation Award is one of four Community Leadership Awards given each year. This award recognizes an organization undertaking a pioneering effort to address a major contemporary problem, noteworthy because of the creativity and innovation employed.

This year, in partnership with KQED, the Innovation Award will be selected by a community vote. The awardee will be crowdsourced through an online selections process, and each organization along with its fearless leader will be considered.


Individual award winners will receive $10,000. Organization award winners will receive $20,000 for their organization.  In addition, each recipient is provided a suite of services to support their professional or organizational development activities and promote their work.


This nominee’s work serves one or more of the following populations:

  • Disabled
  • Early School Leavers
  • Environmentally at-risk
  • Ex-Offenders
  • Foster youth
  • Homeless
  • Immigrants
  • Incarcerated
  • Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual
  • Transgender
  • Unemployed
  • Other


This nominee’s work serves populations in the Bay Area. (Please select all that apply)*

  • Alameda County
  • Contra Costa County
  • Marin County
  • San Francisco County
  • San Mateo County



Nomination submissions are vetted by Foundation staff, who conduct reference interviews for the most compelling candidates. Information is then forwarded on to the Awards Selection Committee, a panel of community leaders from throughout the Bay Area, which reviews nominees and recommends finalists to the Board of Trustees, which selects the winners.

Awardees will be announced in September 2015.


If you are nominating an individual or organization and would like to print the application, you may do so directly via the nominations application website. At the top of the page, you will see the words Print and Logout in blue. Click on Print and proceed.


If you have any questions, please contact the Community Leadership Award Team at