Families and Communities: How Zellerbach Does Its Bay Area Grantmaking

The Zellerbach family traces its United States beginnings to Anthony Zellerbach, who immigrated from Bavaria to Philadelphia in the mid-1840s, and moved west to California around the time of the Gold Rush. Zellerbach eventually founded his own paper business, A. Zellerbach & Sons which changed its name to Zellerbach Paper Company in 1907. The family has also long engaged in philanthropy and the Zellerbach Family Fund was founded in 1956. 

These days, the now-named Zellerbach Family Foundation consists of members of the Zellerbach family as well as others. The foundation's philanthropy focuses primarily on the San Francisco Bay Area and has the mission of being a "catalyst for constructive social change by initiating and investing in efforts that strengthen families and communities."

The Zellerbach Family Foundation has a number of different program areas, but only one of them, its Community Arts Program, is open to unsolicited grant proposals. This program area supports local artists who are creating "new and innovative work that is representative of the diverse cultures and communities of the Bay Area." Recent Community Arts Program grantees include Alayo Dance Company, African & African American Performing Arts Coalition, and ABADÁ-Capoeira San Francisco.

The foundation's Improving Human Service Systems program area, meanwhile, aims to "improve the management, practice, and accountability of public systems serving vulnerable children and families." Current grantmaking through this program area focuses in on mental health, child welfare, and juvenile justice service systems. One grantee through this program is Alliance for Children's Rights and a recent grant by Zellerbach supportedongoing efforts to fund "equitable supports and services for California foster children who are raised by relatives."

Zellerbach also aims to empower at risk youth in education through two programs. The foundation's Strengthening Communities program aims to improve public schools and student academic achievement in the Bay Area. Zellerbach's Youth Development Through the Arts gives grants "toward programs in low-income and distressed neighborhoods where youth have the greatest need and are focused on arts-based programs.

The foundation's Immigrants and Refugees program recently supported Immigrant Legal Resource Center and Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach. Zellerbach also makes grants through its Arts Infrastructure and Major Community Institutions program to provide support to major arts and community institutions and its Grant Support program funds cross-cutting activities that address the broad interests of the foundation.

The Zellerbach Foundation has an accessible website with a full list of recent grants by program area. In 2014, the foundation held $134 million in assets and gave away close to $5 million. Since 2011, Zellerbach has given away more than $19 million in grants. Those interested in applying for a Community Arts grant can be begin by reading the foundation's application guidelines.

Related: Zellerbach Family Foundation: Bay Area Grants