There is no denying that 2020 has been a difficult year. Families in our communities have faced health challenges and even the deaths of loved ones from COVID-19, and the pandemic has devastated the economy. The West Coast has confronted a record-breaking fire season. The killing of George Floyd in May started a nationwide reckoning regarding racial injustice. And we have just come through a contentious election, showing us just how deeply divided our country is. On top of all that, our region still faces ongoing challenges: affordable housing, food insecurity and equity in education, to name a few.
Yet, the Bay Area has long been known for its innovative spirit, its problem-solving ability and its resilience. We take care of our neighbors — as has been evident in this extraordinary year, when the community has come together to support the members most affected by the multiple crises we have faced.
One role Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) fills in our community is helping to get aid to the people in the community who need it most. That's why once again this year, SVCF is proud to partner with the Palo Alto Weekly on the annual Holiday Fund campaign — a great way to help those in need locally. Your generous gift to the fund will support causes including emergency food aid, academic programs for at-risk youth, essential child care, environmental education, grief support, disabilities resources and more.
SVCF's efforts are both local, like the Holiday Fund, and regional. In all cases, we help direct funding and resources to the people and organizations who need it most, including nonprofits that help low-income workers, undocumented immigrants, people facing food insecurity, and those who need housing assistance. We have worked with community partners and donors to respond to several challenges this past year.
As the COVID-19 pandemic caused enormous health and economic hardship across our region, SVCF channeled donor support to more than 370 nonprofit organizations working on the front lines. SVCF's fundraising helped provide food assistance to more than 626,000 residents in 10 Bay Area counties, as well as housing support to more than 31,000 households.
SVCF has also worked to elevate the voices of community leaders of color in the wake of George Floyd's slaying. We created a giving guide that supports Black-led organizations in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties focused on health, education and cultural programs for the Black community — organizations that have received more than $3 million from our donors in recent months.
And after the CZU, SCU and other fires affected our region, SVCF set up a Wildfire Relief Fund to provide emergency grants to local nonprofits that are helping those affected. Our community members once again stepped up with funds and allowed us to provide grants to groups providing immediate relief: search and rescue, shelters, and financial assistance for victims. Other grants focused on the recovery phase, helping with issues such as rehousing, mental health services, and legal services. Still others went to groups looking to the long term, helping rebuild homes, workplaces and infrastructure — as well as planning for resiliency and preparedness for when the next wildfire season strikes.
That's what SVCF does: provide an avenue for generous donors to give back to the community. And that's what Silicon Valley community members do: put together both large and small gifts to help their neighbors get through tough times.
You may be wondering how you can help. One way is to support local nonprofits, who are doing critical work in our community. Many nonprofits are seeing the number of volunteers decrease due to COVID-19, just as they need help the most. Volunteering, if you are able, is a great way to give back. Another option is to make a financial donation. Your gift will support their efforts year-round, and the Holiday Fund is a great way to support multiple nonprofits.
As we look to next year with hope and optimism, know that together, we can make a difference, addressing our local and regional challenges and building a stronger, more equitable, and more inclusive community.
Nicole Taylor is president and CEO of Silicon Valley Community Foundation. To learn more, visit siliconvalleycf.org.