What History Tells Us


I believe that history serves as a guide.

History tells us that the passage of time does not make the situation better. It is what we do with that time that makes the difference.

History tells us that the power of movements — from women’s suffrage to civil rights to marriage equality — can lead us to higher ground and a more inclusive America.

History tells us that no matter the outcomes of national and local elections, we must continue to work hard as our goal remains the same: to advance racial and economic equity.

The San Francisco Foundation has a strong history and deep roots in the Bay Area. We have been committed to social justice in addressing disparities and strengthening the rights and voices of the most vulnerable in our community.

In July, we committed ourselves to the next step — a bold equity agenda for greater racial and economic inclusion for everyone in the Bay Area. The election brought the need for our equity agenda to higher relief. Today, we are more dedicated and more confident of the need for all of us to work together with you — our partners, allies, leaders, and residents — to fulfill this commitment.

One step we are taking immediately is the launch of the Rapid Response Fund for Movement Building. We want to ensure that those who are most impacted by emerging issues and challenges have the resources they need to respond in a timely and effective manner.

We will stand with and be in support of constituencies targeted with Islamophobia.  We will support immigrants, either to hold families together, or allow young people to stay in school and in jobs, or to stand up in the face of proposed mass deportations of undocumented immigrants. And, we will stand with our communities whether it is LGBTQ, people of color, or women.

We have reached out to leaders in the immigrant rights movement and to faith leaders, to hear from them about what they will need in response to potential federal action. We also have been in discussions with leaders — from the public, philanthropic, nonprofit, and private sectors — looking to learn from their perspectives and to discern the best ways to participate, partner, and lead.

At the same time, we must remember that Bay Area residents have spoken too. Voters in our cities, counties and the state sent out a strong message on election night. We had amazing wins in housing and in preserving resources for education, health care and other vital services, and in juvenile justice. Just in the Bay Area voters passed measures for billions of dollars to build affordable homes and strong protections so people can stay in their neighborhoods and not be forced to move to other communities, or completely out of the region.

When we announced our bold equity agenda earlier this year, we were clear on our position. November 8 did not change that. Bay Area residents spoke clearly at the ballot box, and we are more certain than ever that racial and economic equity must remain our focus.

We will continue to use our grantmaking, our civic leadership, and every other tool in our toolbox to ensure that everyone has a chance at full employment at an affordable wage, a safe and affordable home, a strong political voice, and can live in a community that provides real access to opportunity. This is the vision of our equity agenda, and what we aim to achieve by investing in our People, Place, and Power grantmaking pathways. We are all-in to make the region a place where everyone can participate and prosper.

History tells us that when community leaders, nonprofits, donors, residents, and business partners work together, all Bay Area residents benefit. So, I invite you to join us — together, we can ensure that America lives up to its promise of equal liberty for all.

Fred Blackwell
The San Francisco Foundation


Giving Suggestions

Support Responsive Philanthropy

Rapid Response FundWe recently launched our first Rapid Response Fund to make small, one-time gifts to organizations needing timely, urgent support for work on the front lines of social justice. We invite you to participate. Please contact the team to learn more, or join us on December 6th to weigh in.

to provide the resources to the organizations and people who need it the most at this time

Support the Protection of Civil Rights and Liberties

ACLU Foundation of Northern California – The ACLU has committed to deploying all of their staff, volunteers, members, and resources to protect legal and constitutional rights of those most vulnerable.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus protects the rights of immigrants and defends “sanctuary cities” cities, like San Francisco and Oakland, from losing federal funding because of our pro-immigrant stance.

Centro Legal de la Raza – Centro protects and advocates for the rights of immigrants and provides legal services to undocumented immigrants to help them gain legal status and fight deportation and family separation.

Council on American-Islamic Relations – San Francisco Chapter – CAIR promotes safety and justice and enhances understanding of Islam, encourages dialogue, protects civil liberties, and empowers American Muslims facing Islamaphobia. (see more)

National Center for Lesbian Rights – NCLR is working to protect hard-fought victories for marriage equality and LGBTQ rights.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America or NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation – to protect a woman’s right to choose and prevent the criminalization of abortion.

for Black Communities, Immigrants, Muslims, LGTBQ, and communities at-risk of deportation or harassment

Support Community Organizing Efforts

Bay Rising – Regional coalition that focuses on policy change to improve the lives of low-income communities throughout the Bay Area region.

Black Alliance for Just Immigration – Led by Opal Tometi, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, BAJI Oakland educates and engages African American and black immigrant communities to advocate for immigration policies and justice.

Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity – engages people of diverse faiths in the movement for immigrant justice, and supports the needs of migrant youth and families.

to build strong political voice for an inclusive democracy


Our philanthropic advisors can provide more suggestions on any of these topics or others upon request. Contact the team at donorservices@sff.org.




  1. Matt Chanoff

    Thanks for these suggestions, I’m among the many members trying to figure out the most important things to do in this new political landscape.

    I’m concerned though that that the election results just at the time when many people are planning their yearly gifts might lead to an inefficient spike. Worthy organizations might not be prepared to absorb and make good use of a large single-year windfall in funding. Money can be used inefficiently, and non-profits without good cash management can become overextended and suffer in future years.

    I wish that SFF had a mechanism to enable multi-year commitments.

  2. Rosi

    I love the quote, “History tells us that the passage of time does not make the situation better. It is what we do with that time that makes the difference.” Is it Fred Blackwell’s? I want to attritubute it correctly. Thank you.

Leave a Reply