Your Voice, Your Influence, and Your Heart in Service


Like many of you, I have felt waves of emotions during the past few months. Together, with my family and with foundation staff, I have taken time to reflect, recharge and regroup.

Now, we are in a new year and it is time to get focused. In this new year, we at The San Francisco Foundation, will be getting back to basics. We will continue to listen. We will be intentional about our decisions, actions and words. Now is the time to put what we have learned through reflection into practice. To take meaningful, incremental steps with our partners and when we have the momentum, take giant leaps.

While we took time to reflect and recharge, we did not lose that sense of “the fierce urgency of now.” Nine days after the election, we launched the Rapid Response Fund for Movement Building to provide fast resources for communities to respond to unanticipated, but critical opportunities or challenges to advance racial and economic equity in the Bay Area. Our donors — seeing the urgent need — have supported the Fund. We’ve already responded to more than 60 requests to provide know your rights sessions for immigrant students and families, LGBTQ youth, and to build bridges across differences of race, culture and religion.

We began the new year with the launch of our equity grants program. We are committed to working with our partners to increase the number of Bay Area residents that have 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. And in our role as civic leaders, I have agreed to co-chair an effort — working with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Bay Area leaders — to identify and implement regional solutions to the Bay Area’s affordability housing crisis.

We recognize the position we are in at the foundation, working with community leaders, sector influencers, policy makers and donors. I recognize the integrity and responsibility we must uphold in this position. In this year, and perhaps more than ever, we must firmly commit to stand with the communities we serve. We have a duty to neighborhoods and families on the brink, to truly act as the community’s foundation.

It is our responsibility to amplify community voices — the voices they have been using to speak out and hold strong in these turbulent times. We must truly listen, open the lines of communications, open doors to opportunity, and create space at the table for all Bay Area residents.

I ask you to join me, our staff and board, and our growing network of partners. Join us in this commitment and in action. I ask you to use your voice, your influence, and your heart in service and solidarity with the people of the Bay Area in the year ahead. At the foundation, it is our responsibility and our privilege to do the same.


Fred Blackwell
CEO, The San Francisco Foundation



  1. Fred, thank you for your heart felt words, you are absolutely right, it is more important now than ever to address the equity issues in all aspects, we at Diversity In Health Training Institute would like to continue partnering with you and the foundation to provide opportunities to immigrants and refugees.

  2. Margi Dunlap

    Thanks for your post. I am retired now, but received several grants from SFF when I was the ED of the International Institute. I moved to the Sierra Foothills when I retired and found myself in a conservative community, but surrounded by good neighbors who would haul out a chainsaw to cut a fallen tree if we needed one…taking care of one another and making nasty comments about how most “city folks” just rely on the “government” to do that kind of thing. It has been quite an education and I would like to share some of those thoughts/experiences. If we are ever to unite as a country we must acknowledge with respect the ways in which we are different that have nothing to do with race. But we must resist the challenges to the first amendment and we must resist the fear we all have right now about the prospect of denied rights to women, gay people, journalists, and the fear we are beginning to have about retribution for disagreement from the Trumpers. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.
    Margi Dunlap
    Pilot Hill, CA

  3. Fred:

    Thank you for your leadership and support in this important work! The City of Hayward, and it’s fellow Hayward Promise Neighborhood partners and beyond are re-activating and scaling up our community engagement and collective impact initiatives. Hayward stands ready to lead, support, teach, learn and partner, so that together, across community sectors, we can achieve an impact that is greater than what any individual or single organization can do alone.

    To learn more, contact:
    David Korth, Assistant tot the City Manager / Neighborhoos Services Mgr.
    Hayward City Hall – 777 B St.
    Hayward, CA. 94541
    (510) 583-4300

  4. Fred, thank you for your reflection, recommitment to improving lives, and for the inspiring integrity that you bring to your role.
    We join you effecting healthy, impactful individual and community change through innovative praxis, ongoing evaluation, evidence-driven adaptation, and community partnership. This is Felton’s vision and pledge to our partners and consumers.
    We’re looking forward to making 2017 a “leap” year!

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