SVCF Gives More Millions for Math and English Education, Predatory Lending

A new batch of organizations in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties just got a $2.4 million boost of support thanks to the prominent local funder in the region. The Silicon Valley Community Foundation just announced commitments of $850,708 to help immigrants learn English, $832,720 to support out-of-school math education, and $760,000 to prevent payday lending practices. The foundation’s fourth core grantmaking focus area is “building strong communities,” but that was not part of the most recent grant cycle.

The dollar amounts for the three categories in focus were pretty evenly split, but the targets within each category were very specific. Fourteen grants were awarded in the category of immigration, and these were all about creating and maintaining effective programs to help immigrants learn English as a second language. Two highlighted grantees were Alliance for Language Learners Integration, Education and Success and Upwardly Global.

Related: SVCF Accelerates Silicon Valley ESL Funding

SVCF’s education focus is still math, which should not be a big surprise if you’ve followed our recent coverage. There’s been a big push at the foundation for out-of-classroom education grants that focus on bringing educational tools to after-school and summer programs. This is especially true for programs that focus on math and target low-income students of color.

But this time around, the focus is on 8th and 9th grade students, and 17 new grants were made to help local students develop math skills outside the classroom. For example, City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley received $80,000 and the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley received $45,000 for such programs.

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Attacking the predatory payday lending industry has been a long-time passion for SVCF, and unfortunately, it’s still enough of a problem to warrant a steady flow of grant funds. Low-income borrowers often find themselves in inescapable cycles of debt to these services, and SVCF works with legal and social services groups to educate and guide these individuals toward better financial plans. This is a somewhat rare funding opportunity that you don't often see prioritized among funders. Recent grantees included the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley and the Youth Leadership Institute for related coalitions and advocacy campaigns.

Related: How One Prominent Community Foundation Approaches Financial Inclusion

“These grants represent the strategic commitment of Silicon Valley Community Foundation to improve the financial security and employment prospects for low-income families in our area,” Manuel Santamaría, SVCF’s vice president of strategic initiatives and grantmaking, said in a press release. “Working to eliminate abusive payday lending practices helps low-income families keep more of their incomes instead of falling into debilitating cycles of debt. Helping immigrants learn English speeds them toward becoming more productive workers who are integrated into Silicon Valley. And helping middle schoolers master mathematics increases their chances of success for a lifetime.”

Recent grant amounts have ranged between $10,000 and $250,000. A full list of recent grantees can be found on the SVCF website.

In other news, SVCF has been into matching grants in a big way, lately. The funder administered $50 million in matching grants by December 2015 to support 24,450 nonprofits. This blew the 2014 matching grant total out of the water, when the foundation made just $23 million in matching grants. To refresh your memory, these are the types of grants that come from corporate funds and match the amount donated by an employee. According to a press release, about one-fifth of these total matching grants came from PepsiCo employees and matching grants from the PepsiCo Foundation. SVCF matching grants extend beyond the local level and reach nonprofits throughout the U.S. and globally.

To keep up with what the staff cares most about right now, follow the SVCF blog, which is updated more frequently than the average foundation. Recent topics of interest include summer education programs for low-income kids, STEM education for Latinos, and predatory payday lending schemes—all of which coincide with nicely recent grants.

Also worth mentioning is the foundation’s training sessions for nonprofits, which will cover how to incorporate Silicon Valley Gives (the region’s official giving day is May 3) into a development strategy and use social media to promote your cause. Training sessions will run throughout the spring.