People Pathway: Expanding Access to Opportunity Guidelines

All Bay Area residents deserve a good job so they can afford to pay their bills, stay in their homes, and not have to struggle to make ends meet. As the economy has grown in our region, not everyone has benefited from financial gains and job growth. Increasingly, people of color, immigrants, the formerly incarcerated and low-wage workers are shut out of opportunities; and many face multiple barriers to accessing a good job or a home that they can afford. To make matters worse, commutes from home to work are getting longer as people are forced to live further away from jobs and job opportunities. Moreover, structural racism and implicit bias in our communities, schools, workplaces and criminal justice systems, have created another layer of obstacles to build financial self-sufficiency and increase income and wealth.

The People pathway seeks to expand access to opportunity by tackling the inequities in our criminal justice, education and immigration systems, while at the same time investing in the necessary training, skill building, and employment opportunities for those facing the greatest barriers to a good job. Reliable, accessible, and affordable transit and resilient infrastructure are essential to accessing economic opportunity, good jobs, and meaningful careers.

For more information about the People pathway: Expanding Access to Opportunity.


To effectively expand access to opportunity and remove systemic barriers that hinder people from accessing those opportunities, The San Francisco Foundation will prioritize support for efforts in the January open grant cycle that help achieve the following goals through the described strategies.


Create good jobs by increasing access to job opportunities and career pathways for those facing the greatest barriers to employment.


Priority will be given to applicants that expand access to jobs and economic opportunities using the following approaches:

  • Career pathways: Efforts that create viable career pathways and employment opportunities, including basic skills development, education, mentorship, job training and/or placement. Investment in these efforts should result in demonstrable opportunities for advancement, with wage increases and career progression, and either includes efforts to reach scale, or specific plans for reaching scale.
  • Quality Jobs: Efforts that advance job quality for low-wage workers, including efforts to: increase wages, provide a safe and fair work environment, improve benefits, provide for career advancement and move closer to economic independence.
  • Social Enterprises: Efforts to strengthen or create social enterprises that hire, place, and support low-wage workers and/or those facing the most barriers to employment.


Advance education equity by removing barriers to student success in our education system.


Priority will be given to applicants that remove barriers in the education system and advance education equity from Pre-K through 12th grade. Priority will be given to proposals that seek to improve school climate, increase or address school finances, as well as promote student/parent engagement so that all students have a fair chance at success.

  • School Climate: Efforts that decrease both suspension rates in schools and chronic absenteeism. We will support creative, innovative, as well as proven solutions that can demonstrably shift school climate to improve student outcomes such as restorative justice practices and removing implicit bias. This may include work to increase transparency and accountability by schools, or changing policies and practices in the Pre-K through 12th grade continuum.
  • School Finance: Support advocacy and organizing geared toward more or better targeted public funding for under-resourced, underperforming school districts in the Bay Area. This may include advocacy for more state funding or work for more equitable and effective implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula at the local level.


Reduce mass incarceration and reform our criminal justice system.


Priority will be given to proposals that advance the following: 1) reduce the number of people of color entering the criminal and juvenile justice systems, 2) reallocate prison spending to support programs that prevent incarceration, as well as those designed to reduce recidivism; and 3) increase job opportunities for the formerly incarcerated.

  • Fairer Criminal Justice Policies: Efforts that advocate for the adoption and implementation of policies and programs that reduce incarceration and recidivism.
  • Bail and Fee Reform: Efforts that advance more equitable bail practices and fee reform, and that reduce the financial burdens on the formerly incarcerated and their families.
  • Re-entry Programs and Services: Efforts that support workforce training, education initiatives and housing services that put formerly incarcerated individuals and their families on the path to success.
  • Data Transparency and Funding Reallocation: Efforts to promote the collection and utilization of data with a focus on transparency and accountability. We will support advocacy that seeks the reallocation of prison funding for prevention, rehabilitation, and supportive services for the formerly incarcerated.


Improve public transit systems and increase infrastructure jobs.


We support efforts that improve public transit, support resilient infrastructure development, and expand access to infrastructure jobs. Priority will be given to applicants that work toward making transit more affordable and accessible, so that people can move easily to and from work, and connect to job opportunities. We will also support programs and policies that provide infrastructure job opportunities to low-income people and people of color.

  • Public Transit Funding: Support policy advocacy efforts that seek to increase public transit funding that benefits people who rely on transit and/or people who lack access to transit.
  • Affordable Transit: Efforts that reduce the cost of transit through low-cost/no-cost fares and other strategies that make transit more affordable and accessible so that people can move easily to and from work.
  • Clean Energy and Infrastructure Opportunities: Efforts that develop job opportunities in the clean energy economy and/or the construction of infrastructure (e.g. water, wastewater, and transit) to ensure that low-income communities and people of color are trained for, and can access the clean, sustainable jobs of the future.


Grant applicants for the People pathway will be evaluated on the following for the January Open Cycle:

  1. Basic Eligibility: All applicants must meet the basic guidelines and meet the general eligibility criteria of The San Francisco Foundation.
  2. Equity Grantmaking Program Criteria – Strong applicants will meet the overall criteria for this open cycle.
  3. People pathway Priorities: Advances a racial and economic equity agenda in a way that expands access to opportunity and/or removes systemic barriers,
  4. People Served: Serves one or more of the following groups of people: low-wage workers, disconnected or opportunity youth, immigrants, and the formerly incarcerated.

Grant duration and range: Applicants can apply for a grant for one to three years, in the range of $30,000 – $100,000 a year. Only a select number of proposals will be funded at the top of the range.


To learn more about additional programs that are expanding access to opportunity, please visit:

Bay Area Workforce Funders Collaborative
Great Communities Collaborative
Youth Access to Nature

Applying for a Grant

To learn more and to apply for a grant, visit How to Apply. Funding during this open cycle is not available for capital campaigns or improvements, grants to individuals, medical research, event sponsorships, and/or political campaign contributions.

For questions about the People pathway and Grantmaking Guidelines, please contact