The Transformative Impact of Discretionary Giving in East Palo Alto

 In grantmaking, grassroots, Inequality Gap

Virginia, who serves food to the staff at Tesla Motors, fell behind on her rent one month, and as a result her landlord tried to force her and her children out of their East Palo Alto apartment. Her situation is not uncommon; many East Palo Alto residents struggle to stay afloat in a sea of Silicon Valley wealth.


Staff at Community Legal Services of EPA (photo by Craig Sherod)

Fortunately, Virginia has an advocate to help her challenge evictions and stay in her home: Community Legal Services of East Palo Alto. Equipped with a team of dedicated lawyers, they provide legal services for immigrant families and youth, the formerly incarcerated, and residents in jeopardy of being evicted. These legal services range from weekly classes aimed at educating people on their rights to panels that provide career advice to Latino immigrants.

PVF awarded Community Legal Services of EPA a director’s discretionary grant in 2014 to support the critical needs of clients like Virginia. This discretionary grant allows the nonprofit director greater flexibility in their work so they can handle needs as they arise. It is our way of showing we both trust and value them as colleagues.

We aim to reduce the Inequality Gap in East Palo Alto by providing organizations like Community Legal Services of EPA with “paperless” discretionary grants that allow them to make the biggest impact in the community. We think this approach is working – in the words of Executive Director Phil Hwang: “Philanthropic Ventures Foundation has had a transformative impact on the lives of East Palo Alto community members. It has kept long-time East Palo Alto residents in their homes and communities. It has expanded opportunities for immigrant students and parents.”

PVF’s Bill Somerville and Community Legal Service of EPA’s Phil Hwang (photo by Craig Sherod)

PVF’s Bill Somerville and Community Legal Service of EPA’s Phil Hwang (photo by Craig Sherod)

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