Place-Based Strategy & Criteria

children's hands planting a flower

The Foundation’s primary grantmaking strategy is place-based. This means that we seek opportunities to make clusters of grants in the same communities, supporting organizations that serve essentially the same children, youth and families.

No two of these places are alike. They may be urban neighborhoods, rural towns or unincorporated areas. Our goal is, over time, to develop and improve the opportunities that are available to community residents – especially children and youth.

The way to lasting community improvement is complicated, requiring many steps over a long time. It’s also complex, in the sense that the whole sequence and arrangement of steps can’t possibly be planned in advance. Circumstances change, and each step influences the next. Success requires attentiveness, adjustment and collaboration.

Our strategy is designed to address these essential conditions. We respond first and foremost to the assets and culture of the community. Then we seek ways to build on the insights, resources and achievements that are generated through the efforts of our grantees.

To that end, communities must meet the following criteria to be considered for funding:

  • The community is located in Northern or Central California.
  • The community is experiencing acute and widespread poverty, as evidenced by the number of students who qualify for free or reduced-price school lunch.
  • The community has a strong “sense of place” that arises from factors such as location, history and the shared goals and deep-rooted relationships among residents, community-based organizations and educators.
  • The community presents opportunities for investment in all of the following program areas: Families and Communities, Education and Youth Development.
  • Educators and public and non-profit service providers have productive working relationships and engage residents with a spirit of inclusion and interdependence.
  • Local leaders demonstrate commitment to the community as a whole by championing issues and efforts beyond the scope of their own roles and agencies.

Our goal is to achieve the following results:

  • Stronger community organizations and institutions.
  • More effective family functioning.
  • Student success in and out of school.
  • Children and youth who are better prepared for adulthood.