Top of Mind: Essential Human Services

Aug 30, 2019 | Lisa Sobrato Sonsini

Investing in our community's most essential needs.

Our family believes in the importance of valuing and caring for vulnerable members of our community. These beliefs shape our giving, in both on-going programs and one-time responses to urgent needs in the local community – most recently in confronting the tragedy in Gilroy.

In this spirit, it is a privilege to share with you the recent grantees awarded within the Sobrato Family Foundation’s Essential Human Services (EHS) portfolio. Each of these organizations is helping to build a brighter future for local residents, and we are pleased to support them in their incredible service to our community.

Driven by a continued commitment to meeting our community's most urgent needs, these EHS grants provide general operating support to partners and they reflect our deepened emphasis specifically on essential human services -- housing and shelter, community health services, food services, hospice and senior care, domestic violence response and legal aid, emergency assistance, and agencies providing multiple forms of family and children services to clients in Silicon Valley. In light of the unprecedented inequality in our region, we believe it is increasingly important that services reach the lowest income members of our community, and we are proud that these organizations are explicitly focused on working with low-income communities in Silicon Valley:

Housing Organizations 
Abode Services
Bill Wilson Center
Downtown Streets Team
Family Supportive Housing
Housing Industry Foundation
Human Investment Project
Rebuilding Together Peninsula

Legal Aid Organizations 
Child Advocates of Silicon Valley
Tahirih Justice Center

Health Organizations 
The Health Trust
Ronald McDonald Charities of the Bay Area

Our philanthropy has always been about building a region where everyone has a chance to succeed and contribute. Essential Human Services is an anchor component of our local giving, and since 2004, the Foundation has provided these kinds of general operating support (GOS) grants for Silicon Valley nonprofits that foster self-reliance, increase economic independence, and improve the quality of life for residents in need. While our grantmaking has evolved over the years, our commitment to providing flexible GOS with multi-year grants and to working with a broad range of partners has remained constant. Between 2004 and 2017, we awarded more than $55 million in GOS grants across Silicon Valley - and we plan to keep giving robustly in the years ahead.

We also remain committed to responding to unforeseen challenges, and we were heartbroken over the loss of three vibrant, potential-filled lives and over the loss of peace in the wider Gilroy community. We want to acknowledge and appreciate the immediate efforts made by civic leaders, local nonprofits, and other community groups – and we have joined with our counterparts at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, and many other donors, to provide a financial contribution to the Gilroy Foundation’s relief fund. We hope our family’s gift of $50,000 will provide some measure of support and comfort to the relatives and other individuals directly impacted by this tragedy, as well as provide services that enable the Gilroy community to address their collective grief and move forward with hopefulness for the future.

As we witness our region and larger society grapple with an increasingly unequal and sometimes cruel set of circumstances that result in the suffering of others, our family and the partners that we support are committed to affirming the dignity of all people regardless of race, age, gender, immigration status, or any other characteristic. While recent events seem to present us with a stark image of unprecedented attacks on members of our community, whether physical or political, we remain grounded in a fundamental belief - which has resonated across generations of our family - that everyone deserves the chance to pursue opportunities for themselves and their families to live a safe, productive and happy life. We are deeply grateful for our nonprofit partners, funder peers, and local leaders who share this belief and who work resolutely to embrace and elevate all residents of Silicon Valley.

With gratitude,

Lisa Sobrato Sonsini
Board President & Trustee

Lisa Sobrato Sonsini
Board President & Interim CEO