Essential Human Services Eligibility + Application

Eligibility Criteria

Essential Human Services (EHS) grants are made to independent 501(c)(3) organizations that serve low-income clients in Silicon Valley with essential human services and safety net services. The grants are two years in length and the funds are for general operating support.

Common services funded through this program include: emergency housing and shelter, community health services, food services, senior care, domestic violence response and legal aid, emergency assistance, and agencies providing multiple forms of family and children services.

To qualify for the program, at least 50% of an organization’s clients must be in Silicon Valley, California; which SFF views as encompassing Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties, and the southern region of Alameda County (Hayward, Newark, Fremont & Union City). EHS grantees must be explicitly focused on serving low-income clients. 

Ineligible Activities

Organizations with over 50% of their programs in mental health, the environment, or the arts are specifically ineligible.

We also do not support the following activities:

  • Fundraising events or endowment campaigns
  • School-managed clubs or individual schools (except by invitation only)
  • Medical research or organizations focused on specific diseases
  • Projects created or operated by public government agencies or departments
  • Public libraries or their foundations
  • Type III supporting organizations unless “functionally integrated”
  • Organizations with fiscal sponsors

Decision Process

We award EHS grants based on a thorough review of a variety of factors, including: measures of organizational strength (leadership, fundraising & development, finances, data and evaluation, and communications); organization size; organization need; prior Sobrato Family Foundation (SFF) grant amount, if applicable; and our internal EHS program budget. 

The EHS review process includes an SFF staff review of the submitted application materials and an in-person meeting with your organization’s leadership. You can expect a grant decision approximately three months after your application is submitted. 

Our EHS grants are always awarded for a two-year period. Please note that we ask grantees to report on their ability to fundraise their first-year payment amount with new, increased, or lapsed private donor dollars. We cap our EHS grants at $250,000/year, and our average EHS grant currently sits at about $87,000/year.

If you feel your organization is eligible for an EHS grant, please submit an inquiry here