President’s Letter

children in class

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to the Cowell Foundation’s new website. We hope you find the site easy to navigate and the information about our grantmaking and operations clear and concise. We want to speak directly about our priorities and capacity.

While our website may look different, our mission and strategy remain the same. Since 2000, the Cowell Board of Directors has followed a strategy of concentrating the Foundation’s grants in communities where local leaders, educators, parents, and employers are willing to work together to improve the lives of poor children and their families. Periodically, the Board reviews the effectiveness of this place-based strategy. In 2014, we examined the results of all place-based grants awarded since 2009 to assess whether the place-based strategy achieved significant returns to the communities in which we invested.

Following the review, the Board affirmed its commitment to complementary, place-based grantmaking—a strategy of concentrating two-thirds of our annual grants budget in communities where support for families, public schools, and opportunities for young people to develop outside the classroom combine to help children grow up envisioning a future of their choosing. As before, the remaining one-third of the grants budget will support Cowell’s place-based work by developing capacity in the program areas which make up our complementary grants. The Board also modified the names of those program areas to reflect the full scope of the work we fund. Our core areas are:

  • Families and Communities
  • Education
  • Youth Development
  • Leadership Development
  • Opportunity Fund, a program to respond to other needs in our communities and at home in the Bay Area

The Foundation will continue to consider requests for multi-year grants and will maintain its focus on English language learners. The Board also recognized the opportunities to invest in communities’ economic success either through workforce development or job creation. Finally, the Board encouraged grantees to collaborate on programs that touch more than one of our program areas, such as family support organizations that include exceptional youth programs or educational pathways that foster career skills. We want our investments to reflect the communities of connection and continuity that we envision.






Ann Alpers
November 2015

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