What Silicon Valley Nonprofits Should Know about the Sobrato Family Foundation

Four generations of Sobrato family members have called the Silicon Valley home, and this family provides millions of dollars in place-based grantmaking each year. The family adopted the name Sobrato Philanthropies in 2011 to encompass the Sobrato Family Foundation, a public charity named The Sobrato Foundation, a supporting organization of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, the family’s individual giving, and corporate donations.

Since the Sobrato Family Foundation (SFF) is most accessible to Bay Area grantseekers, we’re going to focus on the things you should know about this grantmaking entity before applying for a grant. In late 2013, SFF began making responsive and strategic grants for general operating support, donating land and buildings to community nonprofits, and providing rent-free office and conference space to Bay Area organizations.

Sobrato Exclusively Serves Santa Clara, San Mateo and Southern Alameda Counties

Founded in 1996, this foundation is solely devoted to the counties of Santa Clara, San Mateo and Southern Alameda. Sobrato prides itself on being place-based grantmaker, so don’t’ bother sending in a grant inquiry if you operate outside of this tri-county region. If you operate in and serve this region, you’ll enjoy considerably less competition.

Sobrato Funds High-Quality Educational Programs, But Not Schools

SFF’s 21st Century Education Program aims to increase the number of high-quality classrooms and school leaders, as well as help kids graduate from high school and get prepared for college and careers. Approximately 22 percent of the foundation’s grants have gone toward education lately. Be advised that proposals submitted to fund individual schools and public libraries tend to be rejected.

Sobrato Will Help Pay Your Rent, Utilities, Salaries, and Building Maintenance

SFF’s People and Places Program aims to create pathways out of poverty by increasing access to jobs, housing, and economic opportunities. The foundation considers proposals for a variety of human services programs, including crime and legal services, employment training, housing, food programs, and youth development. Unlike some more restrictive grant programs, SFF grants can be used for rent, utilities, staff salaries, building rehab, and volunteer training. The foundation also awards support in the form of 2:1 fundraising challenge grants to help build institutional capacity.

As we point out in our Sobrato Family Foundation Profile, this foundation doesn’t really care how much money your organization wants; it prefers to calculate how much it thinks you need. The foundation typically awards operating support grants for one-to-eight percent of an agency’s three-year average renewable private cash contributed income figure, excluding unique one-time gifts, bequests, capital campaigns and endowment contributions. General questions about the grantmaking program should be directed to Grants@Sobrato.org