San Diego Women’s Foundation

OVERVIEW: This women’s foundation supports San Diego-area nonprofits in health and human services, civil society, economic development and employment, environment, arts and culture, and education. Grants are awarded once per year.

FUNDING AREAS: Health and human services, civil society, economic development and employment, environment, arts and culture, education

IP TAKE: Don’t be fooled into thinking that this women's foundation only supports the city of San Diego. Funds go out to the broader region—and SDWF gives out considerably larger grants than many other women’s foundations around the country.

PROFILE: The San Diego Women’s Foundation (SDWF) is based in San Diego, California, originating with a small group of volunteers who wanted to promote the participation of women in philanthropy. It was established in 2000 and now has more than 215 members. Members under 40 must contribute $1,125 and members over 40 must contribute $2,250 per year for a minimum of five years to be part of the organization.

SDWF has given more than $3.2 million to over 85 nonprofits, in grants of $25,000 or larger. The funder focuses on one funding priority each year, decided upon through community research and evaluation. In a recent grant cycle, SDWF focused on behavioral health and access to behavioral health services in underserved local communities. Enrichment programs for K-12 children and GED students were the target demographics for grants. Another recent annual focus was unaccompanied homeless youth and young adults. Topics of funding interest rotate among health and human services, civil society, economic development and employment, environment, arts and culture, and education.

The foundation releases its new grant guidelines in the summer for the upcoming year, along with details on how to submit an LOI. SDWF also offers a grantseeker forum to address applicant questions. Full proposals are requested and typically due in December. Site visits take place in March, with final acceptance or rejection notifications in May, and a grants celebration event in June.

Only groups in the San Diego region are eligible to apply for SDWF grants, with a minimum grant award of $25,000. However, groups as far north as Fallbrook, as far south as Chula Vista, and as far west as Lakeside have received SDWF grants. Grantees include Just in Time for Foster Youth, Promises2Kids, the San Diego LGBT Community Center, Think Dignity, and Voices for Children. Annual reports are here.

Katie Sawyer is the executive director of SDWF, and Kirtsen Wisneski is the foundation’s program specialist. General questions can be directed sdwf@sdfoundation.org or (619) 235-2300. The address is 2508 Historic Decatur Road, Suite 200, San Diego, California 92106. Upcoming events and recent news can be viewed on the funder’s website.

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