Bay Area Leads

An Opportunity to Take on the Defining Challenges of Our Time

The San Francisco Foundation is a civic leader with the power to activate a vast network of partners, bring people to the table and invest money and manpower toward solutions. We are in a unique position to reach across sectors and bring the right players to drive action and profound change in the Bay Area.

Under the leadership of CEO Fred Blackwell, we held a series of listening sessions with over 1,000 residents, public officials, advocates, and service providers from across the region. Over the course of these meetings, we heard about life in the Bay Area – our strengths, struggles, and our hope for the future.

The one issue that surfaced at every table, in every meeting room, in every county was that the Bay Area has a healthy nonprofit ecosystem that takes on challenges of the region, but is lacking a leader to connect across sectors to advance a larger shared vision of a thriving Bay Area.

 Read the report on year two which highlights our civic leadership activities, stories and the work over this past year.

The year one report is available here.

Become a Bay Area Leads Donor


Our region is booming, yet a rising tide economy is not lifting up low-income communities and communities of color. The Bay Area is the second most diverse region in the nation, yet many residents – our future entrepreneurs, policy makers, teachers and politicians – are being left behind. We believe equity and inclusion are ever more critical to ensuring our region’s continued vibrancy and prosperity.

To provide a deeper layer of analysis, we commissioned the Bay Area Equity Profile, which revealed a stark portrait of the life trajectory of thousands of children and families in our region. All these inputs helped us to focus our efforts around helping residents thrive, creating places and neighborhoods of opportunity, and changing systems to create opportunities for all.

Expanding opportunity for all residents in our region is the defining challenge of our time, with implications across a person’s lifespan:

  • In health: We know a child born in the Piedmont will live seven years longer than a child born just miles away in the Oakland flatlands.
  • In educational outcomes: Among college graduates, wages are $11/hour lower for Latinos and $9/hour lower for Blacks compared with their White counterparts.
  • In supporting a family: Over the past ten years, while median wages have increased for Whites, Native Americans, and Asians, they have declined for Black and Latino workers.
  • For a thriving, vibrant community: In 1979, the Bay Area ranked 45th out of the largest 150 regions in terms of income inequality. Today, we have climbed to 14th highest.

Additionally, we know that our diversity as a region is a major asset that can only be fully realized when all communities have the opportunity to participate, prosper and reach their full potential. In fact, the region’s economy could have been $117 billion stronger in 2012 if its racial gaps in income had been closed: a 32 percent increase.

Our new Bay Area Leads fund will provide the resources necessary to expand our leadership role that is required for us to advance a larger shared vision of a thriving Bay Area for all. We recognize that we cannot tackle this issue alone. We need to bring together dedicated partners that want to be at the forefront of this important work.

We invite you to stand with us, by contributing to the Bay Area Leads fund, as we embark on this leadership effort and focus to ensure that everyone in the Bay Area, regardless of race or class, has a sense of community, stability and ability to be connected, rooted here and thriving together.


We are in a pivotal moment. We have heard the call from activists, organizations, and families from across the region that the window of opportunity to come together and set a course of action is now

In its initial year, the Bay Area Leads fund will:

  • Develop an action plan to address inequities using a regional and cross sector approach – offering a blueprint for progress.
  • Announce our expanded leadership role and development of a regional action plan at the Foundation’s Bay Area Bold 2015 event in the fall.
  • Commission new research to inform and influence the current public discourse around the issue.
  • Engage a cohort of nonprofit media partners to amplify challenges and solutions across the region.
  • Create opportunities for stakeholders and other funders to join our work.
  • Raise $200,000 for the Bay Area Leads fund to support this work and to enhance the Foundation’s own $250,000 investment.


We want to fully activate our networks and our position as a nexus point and partner for those who want to connect with the community, to join together to be a part of building a stronger Bay Area for all. We ask that you contribute to the Bay Area Leads fund to expand our leadership role.

  • If you have a Donor Advised Fund at the foundation, log into Donor Center and make a grant recommendation to the Bay Area Leads Fund.
  • Send us a check payable to “The San Francisco Foundation – Bay Area Leads Fund.”
  • Contact us to discuss contributions of other assets, such as securities.

As a member of Bay Area Leads, we will keep you informed of our progress through regular updates and meetings with our strategic partners. We will share new information and research with you directly to inform your thinking on the issue. And, we will invite you to share your thoughts and ideas on our role and direction.

For more information on the Bay Area Leads effort call Ruben D. Orduña, Vice President for Development and Donor Services at 415.733.8507.