Isabel Allende Foundation: Bay Area Grants

OVERVIEW: The Isabel Allende Foundation is the philanthropic vehicle of writer Isabel Allende. The Foundation’s grantmaking efforts are focused in Chile and California and in areas of reproductive rights, economic empowerment, and freedom from violence.

FUNDING AREAS: Reproductive Rights, Economic Empowerment, Freedom from Violence

IP TAKE: While the foundation doesn't currently accept unsolicited proposals, its website is accessible and has a contact page open to questions.

PROFILE: Isabel Allende was born in Peru to Chilean parents in 1942. Raised in a family with political ties, Allende fled Chile for Venezuela and became an American citizen in the 1990s. Her first novel The House of the Spirits was a global bestseller. Allende founded the Isabel Allende Foundation in 1996 as a memorial to her daughter, Paula Frias, who died in 1992 at only 29. The Foundation seeks to “invest in the power of women and girls to secure reproductive rights, economic independence and freedom from violence.”

The Isabel Allende Foundation’s efforts are almost exclusively focused on women and youth. While aims to serve both Chile and California, a large number of grantees have come from the Bay Area.

The bulk of grants are between $1,000 and $10,000 with several recurring grants hovering around $30,000, depending on annual income. Additionally, grants between $60,000 to $80,000 go out annually as Espiritu Awards for topics chosen by Allende. Past years have included refugees, human trafficking, reproductive rights, and human rights.

One area of interest for the foundation in the Bay Area is reproductive rights and women's rights. Recent money has gone to Centro Legal De La Raza in Oakland, which "provides free or low-cost, bilingual, culturally-sensitive legal aid, community education and advocacy for low-income residents of the Bay Area, including monolingual Spanish speaking immigrants." In a past year, an $85,000 grant went to Global Fund for Women. Recent support also includes Homeless Prenatal Program, NARAL Pro-Choice California Foundation, and MISSSEY (Motivating, Inspiring, Supporting & Serving Sexually Exploited Youth) which has the aim of "ending child exploitation and helping victims regain the joy and confidence of life."

The foundation also provides education and youth grants in the Bay Area. In a past year, almost $30,000 went to 10,000 Degrees, whose mission is to "achieve educational equity, and support students with need to access and complete higher education to positively impact their communities and the world." Past support has also gone to outfits such as 826 Valencia, which offers writing classes for kids, Fairfax Anselmo Children's Center, Hannah Project, whose goal is to "boost the academic performance and college graduation rates of African American and other low-income of color in Marin County," San Jose State University, and Streetside Stories, which "cultivates young people’s voices to develop literacy and arts skills, fosters educational equity, values diversity, and builds community." Money has gone as well to La Cocina, which supports low-income food entrepreneurs.

Healthcare is another interest of the foundation in the Bay Area. Recent support has gone to outfits such as Center for Early Intervention on Deafness, Project Open Hand, which "provides home delivered meals, groceries and nutrition counseling to people living with HIV/AIDS," and Shanti Project, a "community of volunteers and staff which provides emotional and practical support to San Francisco's most vulnerable individuals living with life-threatening illness."

Given Allende's background, it's no surprise that a component of the Foundation's grantmaking involves organizations that work on a global level. Some of this philanthropy involves organizations in the Bay Area. Recent support has also gone to Soroptimist International of Marin County. Soroptimist is an "international organization for business and professional women who work to improve the lives of women and girls, in local communities and throughout the world."

Finally, funds have gone to the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco and KQED. Money has also gone to human services outfits such as SF-Marin Food Bank.


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Isabel Allende Foundation