Safety Net

The Safety Net grantmaking program supports organizations meeting the immediate needs of individuals and families most impacted by the current economic climate. Learn more about our 2013 Safety Net grantees.

Program Goals

The goal of this program is to meet the immediate needs of individuals and families most impacted by the current economic climate and to sustain and strengthen the nonprofit safety net. For the purposes of this program, safety net services are defined as food, housing, financial assistance, and supportive services for low-income and disadvantaged populations, particularly those residing in under-resourced neighborhoods. Domestic violence and mental health crisis services are also included in the Foundation’s definition of the social safety net, since there has been a consistently high level of stress, depression, and domestic violence directly due to the challenging economic climate.

Please note, since our efforts focus primarily on responding to the current economic situation, this funding opportunity is not for services that are only targeted towards chronically homeless single youth and adults, such as street outreach, drop-in centers, emergency shelter, supportive housing, or residential substance abuse treatment.

Priority will be given to organizations that provide one or more of the following services:

  • Multiple services to families or individuals, including counseling, basic supplies and clothing, transportation vouchers, public benefits assistance, and information and referral.
  • Emergency and short term shelter, and connections to permanent housing for families and adults at risk of homelessness and displacement.
  • Financial assistance to families experiencing a short term crisis or one-time emergency, including help with rent or mortgage payments, utility bills, car repair or transportation, childcare, or food vouchers.
  • Efforts to alleviate hunger and promote food security among families and individuals who are experiencing crisis.
  • Crisis support services and short term shelter for people who have experienced domestic violence.
  • Pro bono legal services that address crises stemming from eviction, foreclosure, or domestic violence, and that help families re-stabilize through access to public benefits or social services.
  • Outreach and enrollment in public benefits programs.

In addition, organizations can use funding to:

  • Engage in advocacy and policy efforts to maintain and restore social services affected by reductions in public funding.
  • Build the capacity of safety net providers to improve programs, service delivery systems, and financial and operational sustainability.
  • Promote staff and leadership development, inter-agency collaboration, and engagement in advocacy.
  • Strengthen efforts to improve, expand and/or reform safety net services and public assistance programs, such as improving enrollment and access to public benefits programs including Food Stamps (SNAP), SSI, SSDI, CalWORKS, Medi-Cal, General Assistance, and unemployment.

The total grantmaking program is $1 million. Grants will range from $10,000 – $25,000. All grants will be for a duration of 12 months.

Proposal Evaluation Criteria

Grant funds will be awarded on a competitive basis. Applications will be evaluated based one or more of the following criteria:

  • The proposal is consistent with the Safety Net Grantmaking Program goals as outlined above.
  • The project description is clear, meets a pressing need in the community, and demonstrates a clear link among the proposed needs, outcomes, and activities.
  • The program meets emerging needs of families and individuals hard hit by the current economic climate.
  • The applicant organization demonstrates capacity – including staffing and leadership, and operational and fiscal management – to expand services and/or meet the increase in demand for safety net services.
  • Geographic area and populations served reflect high needs or lack of services and resources.

Eligible Organizations

We will invite a limited number of organizations to apply for these funds based on the services they provide to the Bay Area community. This is an invitation-only application.

How to Apply

Please note that is not an open call for proposals. Only invited organizations may apply.
Grant funds will be awarded on a competitive basis to invited organizations. In order to be considered for funding, invited organizations must submit a full grant proposal and all of the requested materials through The San Francisco Foundation’s online grant application system, Grantee Center.


Current grantees of the Safety Net program are eligible to apply for a grant. The application period begins on September 16, 2013 and ends October 15, 2013.

Safety Net Program Staff

Program Officer, Community Health
Program Fellow, Community Health
Emily Rosenberg
Program Assistant, Community Health