Full Circle Fund

OVERVIEW: This funding network of Bay Area professionals supports local nonprofits working in the areas of health, education, economic opportunity, and environment & energy. Applications are by invitation only.

FUNDING AREAS: Health, education, economic opportunity, environment & energy

IP TAKE: There are a lot of powerful people from powerful places behind the scenes in this Bay Area funding group. If you’ve been in the nonprofit community for a while, chances are you’re already connected to one of the members or circle co-chairs. Use your connections to get involved with this hands-on funder.

PROFILE: The Full Circle Fund isn’t exactly a foundation, but rather a network of professionals that have come together to help nonprofits reach their goals. The geographic focus of this funding network is the San Francisco Bay Area. Since the year 2000, it has raised over $11 million dollars, helped more than 100 organizations, and put in more than 90,000 hours of service.

The four topics of interest for this funding group are health, education, economic opportunity, environment and energy. Health grants advance solutions for public health and healthcare issues. Education grants aim to improve the effectiveness of education in California for underserved communities. Economic grants go to groups pursuing scalable models to boost opportunity. Environmental/energy grants focus on clean tech, alternative energy, urban sustainable development, green jobs, global warming, climate change, water conservation, and environmental health and social justice.

Education grants have gone to groups like Early Edge California and College Track, economic grants to The Last Mile and Family Independence Initiative, health grants to YTH and Zen Hospice Project, and environmental/energy grants to the Center for Food Safety and Walk SF. You can learn more about past grant partners here.

This group provides unrestricted funds and enlists the help of its diverse and skilled members to drive its mission of social change in the Bay Area. Learn about current members here. There are four staff members, a board of directors, and co-chairs for each of the four funding areas.

A few years ago, the group conducted an impact study to refine its mission and role in the community. The Full Circle Fund has received support from corporate sponsors like Microsoft and the Pacific Gas and Electric Company and foundation partners like The San Francisco Foundation, The Stuart Foundation, the Koret Foundation, and others.

Unfortunately for grantseekers, the process is member-driven, which means that Full Circle members seek out nonprofits to work with. Applications are accepted by invitation only. The funding group explores current issues January through March, identifies potential grantees in April, selects grantees in May, and works with the new grantees for the rest of the year.

To get involved with this group, you can subscribe to its mailing list and fill out a short form to tell the group about your organization and ideas. This will help you get on the funder’s radar for potential consideration down the road. Questions can be emailed (no phone calls) to Fernande Legros, the group’s program officer at fernande@fullcirclefund.org.

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