Westly Foundation

OVERVIEW: This funder supports education, health, and at-risk children and youth in California. Most funding stays in the Bay Area, and grant applications are accepted by invitation only.

FUNDING AREAS: Education, health, at-risk children and youth in California

IP TAKE:  Much of this funder’s support stays in the San Francisco Bay Area, but any early- to mid-stage youth nonprofit in the state should know Westly.

PROFILE: The Westly Foundation was established by Steve Westly, the founder and managing director of the Westly Group, a renewable energy venture capital firm, and his wife, Anita Yu. It was established in 2000, and the couple has ties to Menlo Park, California. Steve Westly was previously the California State Controller and the senior vice president of marketing and business development at eBay. Anita Yu has experience in the tech sector and as a parent.

Originally known as the Steve and Anita Westly Foundation, this foundation supports initiatives to make the state of California, and eventually the world, a better place for children. They've pushed recently to support young social entrepreneurs through the Westly Prize for Young Innovators of California; this has been part of the funder’s strategy since 2012.

The foundation’s education funding seeks to close the achievement gap and equip kids to succeed in the global economy. The youth program involves mentoring, financial literacy, leadership development, and career training in California and beyond. The health program is all about supporting high-quality and affordable healthcare for children and youth in California. A fourth funding category, called Our World, works to improve local, regional, and statewide ecosystems for children.

The Westly Foundation's mission starts locally and thinks globally. As a result, the funder supports mostly local causes in the Bay Area and elsewhere in California but wants to apply lessons learned to places elsewhere in the country and the world. Grantees include the Silicon Valley Urban Debate League, East Palo Alto Tennis and Tutoring, Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative, and KQED. Learn about other featured grantees here.

About 20 grants, from $15,000 to $25,000, are awarded per year. In a recent year, Westly reported over $9.3 million in total net assets. Additional financial data can be viewed on GuideStar.

The Westly Foundation accepts grant applications by invitation only. However, nonprofits can submit their organizations’ information in the funder’s online grant portal to get on its radar. Most grants are for one year; the board meets throughout the year to review proposals.

General questions can be emailed to contact@westly.org. Phone calls and mail are discouraged. Catherine Crystal Foster is executive director. She was previously the executive director of the Peninsula College Fund, led a consulting practice, was a public interest lawyer, and worked as a children’s policy advocate. Keep up with funding updates in the Westly News section and read about recent Westly Prize winners here.

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