The past year has been a time of immense need, with the ongoing pandemic wreaking havoc on the health and well-being of our communities. But it has also been a time of immense giving, during which countless generous people have donated their time and money to support those who need it most.
While the pandemic prognosis is improving in the Bay Area overall, the events of the past 20 months may have consequences for hundreds of thousands of residents' lives for years to come, from employment to income to food security and more.
That's why it's heartening that donors of all giving capacities have come together to support local organizations working to address the impacts of COVID-19 and improve our communities across a wide range of issues. For example, in just the first three quarters of this year, donor generosity has allowed Silicon Valley Community Foundation to disburse $464 million to Bay Area organizations supporting education, youth and community development, health, public safety and other important community issues. This figure represents a 13% increase compared to the same time period in 2020.
Local newspapers also get in on the giving. Each year at this time, The Almanac, along with the Palo Alto Weekly and Mountain View Voice, shines a light on important stories about community needs and raises money for nonprofits serving families and children. The Almanac's own Holiday Fund raised more than $270,000 during the 2020-2021 holiday season, thanks to overwhelming support from local donors. Silicon Valley Community Foundation covers the majority of the operating costs for these papers' campaigns, allowing recipient organizations to maximize donations. (To donate, visit almanacnews.com/holiday_fund or see the ad on page 9 of the Nov. 19 issue.)
One such recipient is the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula (BGCP), which provides high-quality programs to 2,500 K-12 students in Redwood City's North Fair Oaks neighborhood. Their programs help students to fill in gaps, reinforce what they are learning in school and develop the academic mindsets and habits that lead to success in school and beyond, so they can participate in and benefit from the opportunities Silicon Valley has to offer.
This work is especially important as the pandemic disrupted academic progress for many students and caused feelings of loneliness and stress among youth. BGCP was able to redesign and implement new programs, including in-person learning pods, virtual crews and modified summer programs. This was thanks, in part, to the generosity of Holiday Fund donors.
But there are still many challenges ahead, especially for low-income people, communities of color and undocumented residents, all of whose needs have been marginalized for too long. While the pandemic showed us we have work to do to become a more equitable society, it also proved that the human spirit cannot be easily broken. We must come together with the spirit of giving that has seen our communities through the worst of the pandemic in order to help out our neighbors most in need. That means continuing our support for local organizations working on the frontlines of housing and food security, health, education and more.
Each of us has a role to play in bettering our local community and our nation as a whole. Whether you work at a nonprofit, volunteer your time, or donate to the current Holiday Fund, you can make a world of difference.
Nicole Taylor is president and CEO of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.