Foundation awards $1.3 million in local grants

Community-based organizations in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties awarded modest-size grant funds

Sixty-five community-based organizations in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties will receive $1.3 million in modest grants from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, the foundation has announced.

The $4,000 to $50,000 grants include one to Palo Alto's Downtown Streets Team that provides jobs for homeless persons while they clean up streets in the downtown commercial area.

Other grants to local organizations include $20,000 to St. Anthony's Padua Dining Room in Menlo Park and several East Palo Alto organizations, including $10,000 to Bread of Life food kitchen; $15,000 to Collective Roots that provides vegetables and nutrition classes; $15,000 to Community Legal Services; $10,000 to the East Palo Alto Senior Center.

A $5,000 grant was awarded to the Hidden Villa in Los Altos Hills for its farm/camp programs.

News of the grant was warmly welcomed at St. Anthony's, on Middlefield Road in Menlo Park at the Atherton border, where volunteers in blue aprons sorted vegetables and stacked loaves of bread late Wednesday morning.

By 9:30 a.m. about 50 persons were lined up outside, waiting for the daily 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. meal. St. Anthony's serves about 575 people a day.

"We don't believe in miracles. We rely on them," a small sign above the sinks states.

The miracles come in the form of donations and grants -- and volunteers. The new $20,000 grant from the Community Foundation will help the organization "do what it does best, feeding the people," Manager of Operations Maximiliano Torres said.

"We are directly impacted by the economy," volunteer Bob Dehn said, citing a 15 percent increase in diners over the past two years.

Torres said many diners are professionals who have lost their jobs.

"We need more ways to provide stability for them," he said. The new grant will help stabilize funding for meals.

It will help assure that "people can always come back for more," Dehn said.

The donations meet rising needs in communities as deficits force government funding to decline.

Most community organizations have reported an increase in services rendered over the past fiscal year, according to Rebecca Salner, vice president of marketing and communication for the foundation.

Collective Roots in East Palo Alto educates locals about nutrition and provides access to fresh produce. The nonprofit maintains a garden at East Palo Alto Charter School and has integrated organic gardening into the school's science curriculum.

"Like many nonprofits, Collective Roots has seen a tightening of resources," interim Executive Director David Kane said. The $15,000 grant will support free nutrition classes, the Backyard Gardener Network and East Palo Alto's Fresh Checks program. Kane said Fresh Checks provides assistance to "people that fall outside of typical government safety nets" with vouchers for produce from the East Palo Alto Community Farmer's Market.

Executive Director Eileen Richardson of Palo Alto's Downtown Streets Team said the $20,000 grant will cover food and shelter for team members.

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