A Focus on Immigration: The Basics of the Chavez Family Foundation’s Bay Area Giving



Like many Bay Area foundations, the Chavez Family Foundation is the creation of a serial tech entrepreneur. Tom Chavez, this foundation’s president and CEO, started the companies Rapt and Krux and then sold them to Microsoft and Salesforce, respectively. But what sets Chavez apart from many other successful Northern California techies is his background.

Born and raised in Albuquerque, Chavez is a second-generation Mexican American, and while neither of his parents went to college, all five of their kids graduated from Harvard. This personal story of growth and achievement is what guides the Chavez Family Foundation’s grantmaking and why it focuses so strongly on immigration, education, and entrepreneurship.

Immigration is at the Heart of Giving

The Chavez foundation is based squarely around immigration and works to promote equal opportunities and to maximize human potential. Regardless of ethnicity, social class, sexuality, religion, or background, the foundation operates from the belief that a society with equal opportunities will be stronger for future generations. Overall, this foundation looks for opportunities that fall at the intersection of immigration and education and/or immigration and entrepreneurship. In recent months, Chavez has supported opportunities for undocumented students and their families and entrepreneurship opportunities for Latinx students.

This is a Highly Collaborative Funder

Something else to know about the Chavez Family Foundation is that it rarely deploys its grantmaking on its own. This is a highly collaborative funder that often joins forces with other Bay Area foundations to pursue a shared mission.

For example, Chavez has been an active partner in the California Campus Catalyst Fund, which provides resource centers, legal services, mental health services, and other types of support for undocumented students. This particular collaborative effort has the backing of numerous powerful forces in the Bay Area, including the Evelyn & Walter Hass Jr. Fund, the Weingart Foundation, and the James Irvine Foundation. Chavez is also a supporter of Immigrants Rising, New American Economy, Latino Business Action Network, and the Mission Asset Fund.

Related: Undocumented on Campus: California Funders Come Together for Immigrant Students

Focus is on the Nine-County Bay Area

Based in San Francisco, the Chavez Family Foundation makes the Bay Area its top priority, funding the nine regional counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma. This region covers over 100 cities and about 7,000 square miles. Occasionally, Chavez will consider a broader grantmaking approach and support causes elsewhere in California or even with a national reach.

Unsolicited Inquiries are Welcome

Fortunately for Bay Area grantseekers, the Chavez Family Foundation has a welcoming grant process and wants to learn about high-performing groups that work within its areas of focus. The funder’s website has a simple online form for grantseekers, who can expect to receive a response from the Chavez team within 30 days. The process from this point involves a meeting to discuss potential funding within six to 12 months, a review of the nonprofit’s financials, and confirmation of a funding decision. There are no deadlines to keep track of, as Chavez accepts these initial inquires throughout the year.

Learn more about this locally focused funder in IP’s full profile of the Chavez Family Foundation.