The past year has been a time of immense need, with the ongoing pandemic wreaking havoc on the health and well-being of our communities. But it also has been a time of immense giving, during which countless generous people have donated their time and money to support those who need it most.
While the pandemic prognosis is improving in the Bay Area overall, the events of the past 20 months may have consequences for hundreds of thousands of residents' lives for years to come, from employment to income to food security and more.
That's why it's heartening that donors of all giving capacities have come together to support local organizations working to address the impacts of COVID-19 and improve our communities across a wide range of issues. For example, in just the first three quarters of this year, donor generosity has allowed Silicon Valley Community Foundation to disburse $464 million to Bay Area organizations supporting education, youth and community development, health, public safety and other important community issues. This figure represents a 13% increase compared to the same time period in 2020.
Also setting records is the annual Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund, which distributed more money overall in 2021 than in any other year since its launch in 1993, raising more than $680,000 thanks to overwhelming support from local donors.
Each year at this time, local newspapers — including The Almanac and Mountain View Voice — shine a light on important stories about community needs and raise money for nonprofits serving families and children. Silicon Valley Community Foundation covers the majority of the operating costs for these papers' campaigns, allowing recipient organizations to maximize donations.
One such recipient is All Five, a nonprofit preschool program in Menlo Park committed to building an equitable society where each family, no matter their background, has access to high quality early childhood education for their children. Because All Five focuses on the first five years of a child's life — a period critical to children's brain development — time is of the essence when it comes to their programs.
To ensure that its students don't face disruptions in their learning during the pandemic, All Five has adapted its programs to be 100% outdoors, helping families continue accessing high quality care and education programs.
In an era when thousands of childcare centers have shuttered due to the pandemic, All Five is filling a critical need for its community's children and parents — thanks, in part, to the generosity of Holiday Fund donors.
But there are still many challenges ahead, especially for low-income people, communities of color and undocumented residents, all of whose needs have been marginalized for too long. While the pandemic showed us we have work to do to become a more equitable society, it also proved that the human spirit cannot be easily broken.
We must come together with the spirit of giving that has seen our communities through the worst of the pandemic in order to help out our neighbors most in need. That means continuing our support for local organizations working on the frontlines of housing and food security, health, education and more.
Each of us has a role to play in bettering our local community and our nation as a whole. Whether you work at a nonprofit, volunteer your time, or donate to the current Holiday Fund, you can make a world of difference.
Nicole Taylor is the president & CEO of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which is partnering with the Palo Alto Weekly on the Holiday Fund drive. For information about the Holiday Fund, go to PaloAltoOnline.com/holiday_fund.