Philanthropic Ventures Foundation’s 2013 Report is now available online. In this post, our Executive Director and President reflect on PVF’s role in transforming philanthropy.
Two themes stand out as I reflect on 2013. They are radical collaboration and the rising Inequality Gap. One thing I experienced when working in the world of high tech that I don’t see in philanthropy is the notion of radical collaboration. I routinely had diverse talents like musicians and graphic designers on our product development teams. In the philanthropic world we are more isolated in our individual spheres. Why is it that the circles of corporations, grassroots community organizations, venture funds, non-profits, family foundations, and community foundations rarely intersect? What if all of these circles could join together to reinvent our communities?
PVF has always aspired to transform philanthropy. Our mission is to actively create the future of philanthropy by taking risks and trying out new grant making approaches. It is in this spirit that we have pushed hard this past year to find new collaborative grassroots leaders like Josh Nesbit at MedicMobile or Jennifer Pahlka at Code for America who are crossing traditional boundaries to tackle our pressing problems in new ways.
In 2013, we also saw the rising awareness of the Inequality Gap in the Bay Area, with a tale of two cities unfolding before our eyes. I have known what it is like to have high tech campus cafeterias overflowing with food. Yet two blocks away, kids are hungry. Survivors of unimaginable hardship are praying for dignified work. The Inequality Gap will be one of the defining issues of our generation. PVF intends to redouble its effort and work to be the activist connectors and with our unrivaled immediate response spirit, to lead the charge to make a dent in closing this Inequality Gap.
Finding and Funding Leaders
by: Bill Somerville, President & CEO
2013 was a year where we searched for, found, and funded people doing good work. Philanthropic Ventures Foundation is different in many ways. We fund outstanding people doing outstanding work, primarily concerned with poverty, and we give them continuing funding for multiple years. In almost every case, these people have established substantial programs serving low-income clients in positive ways. Next, we have introduced new methods of giving, such as giving grants quickly and not requiring extensive application procedures. We are not careless nor naïve, but we are willing to venture and trust.
Over the past year we have exercised a large degree of trust in giving grants to new programs. One such program built on trust is our Ambassador Program, which provides grants of up to $10,000 for designated professionals to give out the funds themselves to programs they feel are worthy. In a sense, a grassroots mini foundation.
Other giving efforts in 2013 were Freedom House, a safe house for sexually-trafficked women; Street Life Ministries serving the homeless; a grant to help continue Carlmont High School’s effort to stabilize the lives of troubled youth; money to Mz. Shirliz Transitional Living to house and help people returning from incarceration; support to Your Family Counts to increase the self-sufficiency of single mothers. These grants are where the foundation gives discretionary money to program directors to use as they see fit.
It has been a good year and we invite you to journey with us into the future.