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. We want to do our part to close this opportunity gap, and help the most disadvantaged students in Silicon Valley graduate from high school ready to succeed in college and careers.


2013 and 2014 Strategic and Responsive Grants


In early 2013, Sobrato Philanthropies made a 3-year matching grant totaling $2 million to support the Diocese of San Jose Katherine Drexel Initiative, and the Academy of Blended Learning at Santa Clara University, to deepen academic outcomes and harness technology to improve student learning, making schools more effective, efficient, and sustainable.


Later in 2013, SFF made a slate of responsive grants totaling $3.5 million for additional 21st Century Education efforts in the region. Funds 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. 


In 2014, SFF added to this slate of education grants with $245,000 to fund a coalition of organizations working to ensure that funds received by high-need Silicon Valley districts through California’s new Local Control Funding Formula are used as intended—to help close the achievement gap of low-income and English Learner students.


2012 Pilot Portfolio


In 2012, the Sobrato Family Foundation earmarked more than $5M to fund the establishment or expansion of programs focused on the highest-need populations in Silicon Valley, emphasizing support for English language learners. To date, grant awards total $3.7 million. Our grantees 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.