The donations from community members included an anonymous $100,000 gift from a Palo Alto family foundation — the largest single amount ever received by the Holiday Fund.
"One of the most fabulous things that's ever happened in the 19 years we've been doing this just landed on our doorstep right as the year was coming to a close," Palo Alto Weekly Publisher Bill Johnson said at the reception Monday.
The fund focuses on organizations that support children, youth and families.
Recipients included the Palo Alto nonprofits Downtown Streets Team, an employment program for homeless adults that received $15,000; grief-counseling organization Kara, which also received $15,000; and MayView Community Health Center, which received $10,000.
This year, about 90 organizations applied for grants.
"We easily could have funded twice as many, so these were not easy decisions," he said.
Amy Drolette, co-chair of $20,000 grant recipient Project Safety Net, spoke at the reception. Project Safety Net aims to respond to teen suicides by developing a mental health plan for overall youth well-being.
"The greatest gift we can give to students is time," she said. "It's very vivid that we have a community that's very dedicated to helping the children of Palo Alto."
Drolette also introduced the project's new program director, Cristina Llerena.
Other speakers included Jim Santucci of Kara; Liz Schoben of CASSY, an elementary school mental health counseling service; and Sarah Mummah of DreamCatchers, an organization that provides tutoring for low-income middle and high school students.
All three organizations received grants of $15,000. For Kara and DreamCatchers, this year represents the first year of a three-year grant.
"A lot of people don't realize that there are low-income families in Palo Alto whose parents didn't graduate from high school or middle school," Mummah said. "This is a really impactful grant for us. ... It's really going to do wonders for our ability to continue to scale and improve our work within the Palo Alto community."
The Holiday Fund is a fund at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which serves as its fiscal agent, and receives support from the Packard, Hewlett, Arrillaga and Peery foundations in the form of matching grants. Proceeds from events such as the Palo Alto Weekly Moonlight Run, hosted in the fall, also support the Holiday Fund.
WATCH IT ONLINE
A video of the Holiday Fund reception has been posted at www.ustream.tv/recorded/22257251. See a list of the grant recipients on Palo Alto Online (search for "Holiday Fund $353K").