Community Need & Philanthropic Response


Silicon Valley boasts one of the largest economies in the world, yet an astonishingly high number of our students are low income, struggling academically, and lack access to high quality school options or effective student supports out of school time. Many of these students are English language learners, attending schools that are not equipped to respond effectively to this challenge.


To stay economically competitive and ensure a vibrant region for all of our residents, we need a talented workforce that can meet the demands of our innovation-focused economy and engage in our community. We must work together to capture the full potential of these students, ensuring every student in Silicon Valley has access to high quality educational opportunities.


The Sobrato Family wants to do our part to close the opportunity gap, and help the most disadvantaged students in Silicon Valley graduate from high school ready to succeed in college. Based on direction from our board, input from a cohort of Silicon Valley education leaders, and research into the needs of Silicon Valley schools, our team moved quickly to launch a pilot year of grantmaking. For this initial round, we invited a select group of nonprofits to present specific funding opportunities.


2012-2013 Pilot Portfolio


In its pilot round, the Sobrato Family Foundation funded the work of nine education organizations that focus on the highest-need populations in Silicon Valley, emphasizing support for English language learners. Grant awards to date top $3.4 million—initial funds were released in Fall 2012, followed by a second installment in Fall 2013. Our grantees’ programs provide several elements critical to raising the academic achievement of low-income students, such as quality in-school support and out-of-school-time learning opportunities, parent and community engagement, teacher professional development, cultivation of the belief in all children’s ability to learn, and the financial skills and resources required to send a student to college.


2014 Responsive Grants


In early 2014, SFF made a slate of responsive grants totaling $3.5 million for 21st Century Education efforts in the region. Funds will support NewSchools Venture Seed Fund‘s education technology efforts, Silicon Schools Fund‘s early-stage seed capital for blended learning schools in the region, BASIC Fund scholarships to enable disadvantaged students to attend high-quality schools, Innovate Public Schools‘ development of a comprehensive education reform agenda for Silicon Valley, and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s Silicon Valley Common Core Initiative.