Community foundation offers challenge grant for needy

The Mountain View-based Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) has launched its "Strengthen the Safety Net" campaign, committing up to $1 million in matching funds.

Through the challenge grant, the foundation will match donations by individuals and corporations up to $1 million through Dec. 31. For every dollar donated, the community foundation will send $2 to agencies that provide critical assistance to families and individuals in need.

Speakers at the foundation's first Regional Meeting, held at Cupertino's Flint Center last week, urged an audience of more than 1,000 to join the campaign. The meeting was the first public session since the former Peninsula Community Foundation based in San Mateo County and Community Foundation Silicon Valley based in San Jose merged two years ago, establishing a new headquarters on El Camino Real in Mountain View.

"You establish what matters to you in times of crisis," said Emmet D. Carson, CEO and president of the foundation. "For safety net groups in our region and for the families and individuals they serve, this is truly a time of crisis. In this economic downturn, it is critical that we all demonstrate the kind of generosity that Silicon Valley is known for and help others weather this storm."

Carson said he had talked with numerous non-profit leaders over the past several weeks, all of whom said they are seeing unprecedented demand for their services.

"More families are struggling to put food on the table. More families are losing their homes. And as a community, we need to pull together to help alleviate the economic stress in our region," he said.

Community leaders, non-profit managers and volunteers and individuals representing organizations that need money attended the meeting.Los Altos resident Laura Casas Frier, a member of the Foothill College Board of Trustees, said that Emmet brought the audience together with his comments and with the thought that the whole community is responsible for everyone else.

"Non-profits need a cheerleader," she said. "And he is a great deliverer."

Non-profit activist Bob Adams of Los Altos said he was surprised at the meeting's focus on immigration.

"It is interesting that Carson focused on this as one of the causes for support, even though I don't think we heard the word ‘immigrant' one time in the three presidential debates in the past month."

Gay Krause, head of the Krause Center for Innovation at Foothill College, said she hoped that Carson's passion and leadership would translate to more unrestricted funding from SVCF donors.

"Since the education funds are available for a single initiative focused on middle school math, I am anxious to become re-engaged with the Community Foundation," she said. "I believe concentrating on a single goal will help us all focus our attention in this area, which will result in significant gains in our middle schools, reflected later in our high schools, our community college and university students."

The Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which has several hundred donor-advised funds, is the fiscal partner of the Town Crier Holiday Fund, which will launch its annual drive in the next few weeks.

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