The Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund campaign to support local nonprofits that provide critical help to those in need is kicking off this week, with the aim of raising $500,000 — every cent of which will be distributed to community agencies.
Through the generosity of local residents and the Holiday Fund's partnering foundations, Palo Alto area service organizations will be able to send deserving teens to college, bridge educational gaps, put hot food in hungry stomachs, aid people with disabilities, step in with services when times are tough and more.
Recent grants from the Holiday Fund have ensured nonprofits were able to continue their important work of helping others during the pandemic. At the San Francisco 49ers Academy in East Palo Alto, staff set up a learning hub for kids who were unable to keep up with remote learning: homeless children, special education students, youth who take care of younger siblings because their parents are working all day, students without reliable internet access and immigrant children who were just starting to learn English. Each of these students received consistent, individualized attention as well as coordinated help to keep them both in school and thriving.
At the nonprofit Hidden Villa farm, gatherings at summer camps in 2020 were both unsafe and illegal, so the staff launched an at-home program called "Seeds of Summer." Students received boxes filled with 14 envelopes, each a lesson that blended recreation with education. The boxes included journals, a variety of craft supplies and bits of nature collected from the farm.
The generous support of matching grants from local foundations, including the Packard, Hewlett, Peery and Arrillaga foundations, are doubling each Holiday Fund contribution. A donation of $100 turns into $200 with the foundation matching gifts. And because the Palo Alto Weekly and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation are absorbing all administrative costs to run the fund, 100% of every donation goes directly to an agency for services.
The 2020-2021 Holiday Fund campaign raised and granted a record $680,000 to 74 nonprofits, bringing the total distributed over its 28-year history to more than $8 million. A list of the nonprofits is posted at PaloAltoOnline.com/holiday_fund.
"This year, we will be looking carefully at supporting those organizations that have used up their Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding and other one-time support and face challenges in needing to right-size their operations for the coming year and determining their path forward post-COVID," said Bill Johnson, president and CEO of Embarcadero Media, the Weekly's parent company.
Donors to the fund may make contributions in honor of someone special. All donors and their gift amounts will be published in the Palo Alto Weekly unless anonymity is requested. Donations can be made online at siliconvalleycf.org/Paw-holiday-fund.
The Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund is a donor-advised fund of Silicon Valley Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. A contribution to this fund allows donations to be tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.
"Every year, donors to the Holiday Fund demonstrate their compassion and open hearts through their giving," Johnson added. "We hope they'll do the same this year."
The Holiday Fund campaign will run through early January. Grants will be awarded to nonprofit organizations in the spring. Agencies interested in applying for a grant, which this past year ranged from $2,500 to $25,000, can find an application at PaloAltoOnline.com/holiday_fund.
Read the op-ed from Silicon Valley Community Foundation President & CEO Nicole Taylor about the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund: "Opinion: Record-breaking Holiday Fund demonstrates the power of local giving."