Amid the devastating health and economic circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past year, the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund distributed more charitable grants and more money overall in 2021 than in any other year since its launch in 1993, thanks to overwhelming support from local donors.
The Holiday Fund raised $680,000 — or $215,000 more than last year's record-breaking amount — and split the donations into 81 grants to nonprofits serving families and children in Palo Alto, East Palo Alto and surrounding areas.
"With the pandemic, the needs have never been greater, and thanks to overwhelming support from individuals, family foundations and the Packard and Hewlett foundations, the money raised this year far surpassed past years," said Bill Johnson, publisher of the Weekly. "We are pleased to have been able to help so many organizations, including many that have been on the front lines helping families and children get through this difficult year."
Major Holiday Fund donors this year included two anonymous donations totaling $350,000; the Hewlett and Packard foundations, which each donated $25,000; the Peery and Arrillaga foundations, which each contributed $10,000; and numerous donations of more than $10,000 made by individuals and family foundations who asked to remain anonymous.
In all, 74 nonprofit agencies serving families and children are receiving program grants, plus seven child care facilities are receiving capital grants to make physical improvements to their sites. Grants range from $25,000 to $2,500 and were disbursed by Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which has partnered with the Weekly for the Holiday Fund since its launch.
Ada's Cafe, All Students Matter, Youth Community Service and DreamCatchers are receiving $25,000 grants, and East Palo Alto Tennis & Tutoring, Pursuit of Excellence, Ravenswood Education Foundation and WeHope are each receiving grants of $20,000 each. In addition, 16 high school scholarships are being awarded to graduating seniors at Palo Alto, Gunn, Menlo-Atherton and Woodside high schools who have excelled in community service activities during the last year.
Palo Alto Weekly's 28th annual Holiday Fund kicked off last October with the newspaper's annual Moonlight Run & Walk fundraiser, which was held virtually for the first time due to the pandemic. The event, supported through 10 corporate sponsors, raised more than $50,000, all of which was allocated to the Holiday Fund.
The Holiday Fund has disbursed more than $7 million over its 28-year history.