How This Prominent Real Estate Family Supports the Bay Area

The Swig family of San Francisco has been prominent in the real estate and property world for decades. The late Benjamin Swig founded The Swig Company in 1936, and the company achieved early renown as the force behind the Fairmont Hotel brand. The company's current holdings are mainly in California and New York City. Unsurprisingly, this wealthy family has also engaged in philanthropy and the Swig Foundation was established all the way back in the 1950s.

Despite being around for quite some time, this charitable vehicle doesn't have much of a web presence, or clear guidelines for grantseekers. The outfit's current trustees are all Swig family members active in the Bay Area community. Trustee Steven Swig, a lawyer, is on the board of Presidio Graduate School in Alameda. Trustee Carolyn Zecca-Ferris, is an artist ,and trustee Susan Swig Watkins, who has a BFA from UC Berkeley, has been heavily involved with San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

The Swig family, by the way, has had strong ties to the art world going back decades and the Swig Foundation's current grantmaking reflects this. The Swig family, through their foundation, have supported arts outfits such as San Francisco Modern Museum of Art, Monterey Jazz Festival, Headlands Center for the Arts, Sf Jazz, The Exploratorium, San Francisco Film Society, and ZERO1, "a Silicon Valley arts organization which connects creative explorers in art, science, and technology to provoke new ideas." The Swigs also fund art education outfits such as The Imagine Bus Project, which "engages and inspires incarcerated youth, and youth impacted by the juvenile justice system," and San Francisco Arts Education Project, which brings art into classrooms, summer camps and after-school/weekend programs.

The Swig Foundation's grantmaking supports education in the Bay Area as well. Past grantees include Resources for Indispensable Schools and Educators (RISE), a nonprofit that "connects second-stage teachers with emerging schools in low-income communities where they will be more likely to succeed and remain in teaching," Menlo School, Summer Search Foundation, College Track, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UCSF Foundation, Kipp Foundation, and Breakthrough Collaborative.

The Swig Foundation also earmarks funds for health. Past Bay Area health  grantees include J David Gladstone Institutes, a biomedical research outfit, UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital, and the Seva Foundation, which "partners worldwide to create self-sustaining programs that preserve and restore sight." It's worth mentioning that through the years, a number of Swig family members have been affected by cancer.

Swig also supports human services outfits and community organizations in the Bay Area. Past grantees include Homeless Prenatal Program, Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Center, which "serves more than 600 children, families, and seniors through a combination of free and low-cost programs," Chinatown Community Development Center, Groceries for Seniors, "a community based nonprofit organization that provides free food to poor, elderly people in San Francisco," and La Casa De Las Madres, which serves domestic violence victims.

Ths Swigs are also interested in the environment. Past grantees include San Francisco Parks Trust, Muttville, a senior dog rescue outfit, Center for Ecoliteracy, Golden Gate National Parks, and Greenbelt Alliance, a "nonprofit land conservation and urban planning organization," and Women's Earth Alliance in Berkeley.

Of late, the Swig Foundation has made a few hundred grants annually. In a recent tax year, a little under $900,000 went out of the door. Many grants are under $10,000.

Related: Swig Foundation: Bay Area Grants