Getting to Know the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation

The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation is perhaps best known its arts collaborations with the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Right now, Gerbode is working with Hewlett on a three-year $900,000 initiative to support new work by California choreographers.

But there is a lot more to this foundation than its backing of the arts. Here are three other essential things to know about the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation.

Gerbode gives to the Bay Area and Hawaii

Gerbode’s primary geographical focus is on Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo counties. The foundation’s local Bay Area interests include energy planning, land trusts, urban environmental issues, estuary restoration, sustainable conservation, environmental education, and citizen participation. However, the foundation also funds programs related to death and dying and reproductive rights on a national and global scale. Although the founder’s family created one of the biggest sugar companies in Hawaii, the foundation is based in San Francisco today.

Most Funds Flow To Community Affairs Programs

Although Gerbode is known as a big arts funder in the Bay Area, the most annual grants have historically gone to community affairs programs. In 2012, Gerbode paid out $592,500 in arts and culture grants, which included Special Awards in the Arts programs in the Bay area. But that same year, the foundation paid out $907,500 for community affairs program. It seems that “community affairs” is pretty loosely defined, too. Recent grant recipients include the San Francisco Information Clearing House to support its Council of Community Housing Organizations, Pacific University Project Inc. to support its public education work, and the Immigrant Legal Resource Center to support its strategic planning.

Unsolicited Letters of Inquiry Are Welcome for Program Support

Fortunately for grantseekers, the Gerbode Foundation is open to unsolicited letters of inquiry at any time of the year. They must be sent in via mail, and the Board of Directors meets four times per year. Keep in mind that the foundation prefers to support specific programs over general operating support. Most grants range in size between $5,000 and $50,000.

To learn more, read our profile of the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation or reach out to the foundation directly at or by phone at 415-391-4587.  

choreography awards
are part of
year $
initiative by the Gerbode and
oundations to support
he commissioning of individual artists and to invest in their
creative vision
Other disciplines will be supported in 2015 and 2016.