Swig Foundation: Bay Area Grants

OVERVIEW: Established in the late 1950s, the Swig Foundation focuses its grantmaking on the San Francisco Bay Area. Swig funds art, education, youth, and other outfits. The foundation makes hundreds of grants per year, but many grants are below $10,000. In a recent fiscal year, close to $900,000 went out of the door.

FUNDING AREAS: Arts & Culture, Education & Youth, Health, Human Services, Environment, San Francisco Community

IP TAKE: The Swig Foundation flies well under the radar, with a minimal web presence and no clear guidelines for grantseekers.

PROFILE: The Swig Foundation was established in 1957. The Swig family has been prominent in the Bay Area for decades. Benjamin Swig founded The Swig Company in the Bay Area in 1936 and the company achieved early renown as the force behind the Fairmont Hotel brand. The Swig Foundation's trustees are part of the Swig family. Unfortunately, despite being around for a long time, the Swig Foundation flies well under the radar, with a minimal web presence, and no clear guidelines for grantseekers. In a recent tax year, a little under $900,000 went out of the door with a few hundred grants made. Many grants are under $10,000.

The Swig family has had strong ties to the art world going back decades, and Swig's current trustees also reflect this. Trustee Carolyn Zecca-Ferris, is an artist and trustee Susan Swig Watkins, who has a BFA from UC Berkeley, has been heavily involved with San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Swig has supported arts outfits in the Bay Area such as San Francisco Modern Museum of Art, Monterey Jazz Festival, Headlands Center for the Arts, Other Minds, a "global New Music community where composers, students, and listeners discover and learn about innovative music by composers from all over the world," Merola Opera Program, Sf Jazz, The Exploratorium, San Francisco Film Society, Mill Valley Live Arts, and ZERO1, "a Silicon Valley arts organization which connects creative explorers in art, science, and technology to provoke new ideas."

Swig also funds arts education outfits such as The Imagine Bus Project, which "engages and inspires incarcerated youth, and youth impacted by the juvenile justice system," San Francisco Arts Education Project, which brings art into classrooms, summer camps and after-school/weekend programs, and Other Minds, a "global New Music community where composers, students, and listeners discover and learn about innovative music by composers from all over the world."

The Swig Foundation's grantmaking supports education in the Bay Area as well. Past grantees include Resources for Indispensable Schools and Educators (RISE), a nonprofit that "connects second-stage teachers with emerging schools in low-income communities where they will be more likely to succeed and remain in teaching," Mills College in Oakland, Menlo School, Summer Search Foundation, College Track, The Achieve Foundation, "a year-round, four-year high school scholarship and academic enrichment program for underserved students from low-income families," UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UCSF Foundation, Kipp Foundation, and Breakthrough Collaborative.

The Swig Foundation also earmarks funds for health. Past Bay Area grantees include J David Gladstone Institutes, a biomedical research outfit, Arthritis Foundation, UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital, and the Seva Foundation, which "partners worldwide to create self-sustaining programs that preserve and restore sight." It's worth mentioning that through the years, a number of Swig family members have been affected by cancer.

Swig also supports human services outfits and community organizations in the Bay Area. Past grantees include Homeless Prenatal Program, Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Center, which "serves more than 600 children, families, and seniors through a combination of free and low-cost programs," Chinatown Community Development Center, San Francisco Child Abuse, Delancey Street Foundation, a drug rehabilitation outfit, Groceries for Seniors, "a community based nonprofit organization that provides free food to poor, elderly people in San Francisco," and La Casa De Las Madres, which serves domestic violence victims.

Ths Swigs are also interested in the environment. Past grantees include San Francisco Parks Trust, Muttville, a senior dog rescue outfit, Center for Ecoliteracy, Golden Gate National Parks, Greenbelt Alliance, a a "nonprofit land conservation and urban planning organization," and Women's Earth Alliance in Berkeley, which "partners with grassroots organizations internationally to holistically build the capacities of women leaders who are addressing acute environmental and climate challenges in their communities."

The Swig Foundation's grantmaking involves supporting outfits that operate on a global level, as well. For instance, a past grant went to the Ploughshares Fund, the global security outfit.


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    The Swig Foundation does not have much of a web presence, or a clear avenue for grantseekers to get in touch. Below is contact information:

      Swig Foundation

      220 Montgomery St.

      San Francisco, CA 94104

      Telephone: (415) 291-1100