PVF in the News

Newspaper articles, radio interviews, and magazine spreads featuring PVF principles and projects

Palo Alto Online, May 20, 2021, “Facebook announces $1.5M in grants for accessory units” Profile on the Facebook Housing Innovation Fund,  a partnership between Facebook, the city of Menlo Park, and PVF.

Grammy.com: Recording Academy MusiCares, April 5, 2018, “James Higa Talks MusiCares, Concert For Recovery, Steve Jobs & Philanthropy.” Profile of MusiCares Board Member and PVF Executive Director, James Higa.

“We want to be the first to find and the first to fund innovative ideas and inspiring leaders in our communities. Find ’em and fund ’em as we like to say. It could be hunger, safety net, education, etc. — we are not constrained by the ‘space’ you are in.”

– PVF Executive Director, James Higa, quoted in Grammy.com’s “James Higa Talks MusiCares, Concert For Recovery, Steve Jobs & Philanthropy”

Silicon Valley Magazine, April 2018, “Flipping the Script.” A feature on Modern Alliance, a designated fund of PVF, mentions the foundation’s approach to designated funds. (article starts on page 62)

“PVF’s Designated Funds not only oversees the placement of money for donors, but handles ‘all the heavy lifting,’ [James Higa] says…. As a result, he notes, ‘companies, organizations and founders can focus on what they want to do–which is figure out how to support the causes or people that they are really passionate about.’”

– Silicon Valley Magazine’s “Flipping the Script” 

Chronicle of Philanthropy, December 5, 2017, “How New Forms of Philanthropy Are Squeezing Traditional Charities” by Alex Daniels and Rebecca Koenig. PVF’s Executive Director, James Higa, was quoted in this article which discusses philanthropists giving grants to LLCs and social-investing funds.

Gentry Magazine, March 2016, “Venturing into New Territory.” PVF’s radical approach to philanthropy, as shown through our Bay Area Inspire Awards initiative, is highlighted. (article starts on page 116)

“PVF’s spirit and mission are the same as our high-tech neighbors in the Bay Area. We’re all trying to make a dent in the universe. The only difference is that PVF is doing it through people and communities rather than products and technologies.”

– PVF Executive Director, James Higa, quoted in Gentry Magazine’s “Venturing Into New Territory” 

New York Times, May 6, 2015, “The Shaky Moral Compass of Silicon Valley.” PVF’s Executive Director, James Higa, was quoted in this article which discusses a lack of compassion often present in Silicon Valley’s wealthy.

‘There is now a huge hunger and desire on the part of employees at many of the start-ups I work with to want to do something — to try and give back — but there is a lack of understanding about what is it they can do,’ said James Higa, a former executive at Apple and now the executive director at Philanthropic Ventures Foundation, a nonprofit in the Bay Area.’

– New York Times, “The Shaky Moral Compass of Silicon Valley” 

CNN, March 23, 2015, “Silicon Valley can afford to end poverty.” PVF’s CEO, Bill Somerville, was quoted in this opinion piece about poverty in Silicon Valley.

The Guardian, January 19, 2015, “Who are the future philanthropists?” PVF’s risk-taking approach to philanthropy and it’s impact is discussed in this article by The Guardian.

Palo Alto Online, January 19, 2015, “Nonprofit aims to bring laundry, shower services to homeless.” Project WeHOPE’s Dignity on Wheels is discussed in this article, which is a mobile laundry and shower service for the homeless that PVF is helping to fund.

USA Today, November 3, 2014, “Struggling in the Shadow of Silicon Valley Wealth.” The Inequality Gap in Silicon Valley, and PVF’s work to address it, is highlighted in this article.

Gentry SV, August/September 2014, “Bold New Vision.” James Higa’s innovative work to reinvent giving in the Bay Area is profiled in this article.

Through his work with PVF, James [Higa] is on a mission to take the old models of charity and shake them up.

– Gentry’s SV, “Bold New Vision” 

Oakland Local, April 15, 2014, “Who’s Funding Oakland Start-Ups? 15 VCs to Watch” by Barbara Grady. PVF’s Bay Area Inspire Awards Program for young social innovators is profiled.

San Jose Mercury News, April 11, 2014, “Celebrating Success for Rosalie Rendu Center” by Janet Duca Norton. The Rosalie Rendu Center, a PVF grantee, celebrates its success in helping low-income residents grow through learning.

CBS Alice Radio, March 12, 2014, “The Bay Area’s Inequality Gap.” In this radio program, James Higa discusses ways to tackle the growing inequality gap in the Bay Area.

Wall Street Journal, February 26, 2013, “After Apple, Tackling Poverty” by Evelyn Rusli. A profile on James Higa and his efforts to tackle poverty in the Bay Area.

Asian Philanthropy Forum, April 12, 2013, “25 Creative Philanthropy Practices.” Bill Somerville’s key practices for outstanding professional philanthropy are outlined.

Palo Alto Online, March 1, 2013, “Bill Somerville stepping back (a bit) after a lifetime as a philanthropic revolutionary” by Jay Thorwaldson. This article describes Bill Somerville’s legacy in philanthropy.

San Jose Mercury News, January 8, 2013, “Facebook Distributes $200,000 to East Palo Alto and Menlo Park Nonprofits” by Bonnie Eslinger. This article discusses PVF’s Facebook Local Community Fund and its first round of grant distribution.

Lifestyles Magazine, New Year 2013, “iJames” by Darren Gluckman. Mr. Gluckman profiles PVF’s Executive Director, James Higa.

Philanthropy and the tech sector share the same need for speed. [James Higa said:] ‘You can’t sit around and think about things and do white papers and focus groups and stare at your navel for six months as the competition whizzes by. You need to have bias for action.’

– Lifestyles Magazine, “iJames” 

San Francisco Business Times, November 23-29, 2012, “Bay Area entrepreneurs update philanthropy” by Renee Frojo.

The Mercury News, January 26, 2010, “Kim Baker” column by Paul Freeman. Paul talks with Ms. Baker about her time spent on site visits with Bill Somerville. After her visits she put on a benefit concert for one of the places she visited.

The Daily Journal, November 30, 2009, “Time To Give” column by Sue Lempert discusses PVF’s grantmaking style.

Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, September 2009, “On the Money: The Key Financial Challenges Facing Nonprofits Today – and How Grantmakers Can Help,” by Nancy Burd.  PVF’s ‘paperless giving’ approach is compared in a 36 page analysis of “three grantmakers, three approaches.”

San Francisco Magazine, June, 2009, “In Good We Trust” PVF is listed as Good Idea #12: The 48-hour Yes or No, by April Dembosky.

San Francisco Chronicle, November 28, 2008, “He Invests in People: Philanthropist Cuts Through Bureaucracy to Help Charities” by Meredith May, Chronicle Staff Writer.

He reads seven newspapers a day, chats people up in welfare lines, dines in soup kitchens, and spends time with those on the front lines of fighting hunger and homelessness. He befriends juvenile court justices and social workers, who tell him about the foster teens who need bus passes to get to summer school or the mother in a domestic violence shelter who needs a cell phone to contact her daughter.

– SF Gate, “Philanthropist Goes His Own Way to Find Causes” 

Contra Costa Times/Montclarion, November 6, 2008, “Year End Giving: Looking Beyond Your Mailbox” – sixth article in a series on social engagement philanthropy by Bill Somerville.

Chronicle of Philanthropy, October 2, 2008, “In Grant Making, Speed + Accuracy > Size” Op-Ed by Bill Somerville. “As grant makers, we expect the charities we support to be fleet, flexible, and ready to turn on a dime. Foundations, on the other hand, make our grants at our own convenience.”

San Francisco Examiner, August 4, 2008, “The Benefits of a Solid Foundation” discusses PVF’s immediate response grantmaking programs such as Affinity Grants and Sports for Health Grants.

Foundation Center, July 24, 2008, “Philanthropy Chat with Bill Somerville” with Janet Camarena, Philanthropy Front and Center Blog.

Gentry Magazine, July 2008, Feature story on Bill Somerville and various Philanthropic Ventures Foundation programs.

KPIX CBS-5 TV, June 29, 2008, Bay Sunday Show, “Grassroots Philanthropy” author Bill Somerville discusses PVF’s approach to grantmaking.

KPIX CBS-5 TV, June 9, 2008, “Bay Area Philanthropist Offers Help in a Hurry,” featured story on the 6pm news, can be viewed by clicking the link above.

The Financial Times, May 31, 2008 by Sean Stannard-Stockton, CFA, CAP. Financial Times calls PVF Founder Bill Somerville “A philanthropic force of nature” whose grantmaking is “a leap forward towards high- impact, efficient giving that embraces imagination and risk-taking.”

San Mateo County Times, April 9, 2008, “Music to Their Ears: Foundations Offer Quick Grants for Arts,”  by Angela Hart. Article about PVF’s Arts Resource Grants, with funding by The Westly Foundation.  Interviews, photographs, and testimonials from San Mateo County teachers about the impact of the Program which supports arts field trips, musical instruments and creative arts projects.

Oakland Tribune, Contra Costa Times, Montclarion, February 17, 2008, “Ordinary Students Learn How to Give” by Martin Snapp, feature story about PVF and director Bill Somerville’s new course at Laney Community College Introduction to Philanthropy,  CC Times, pg A27.

San Mateo Daily Journal, January 28, 2008, “Small is Sometimes Big.” Columnist Sue Lempert tours Redwood City with PVF Director Bill Somerville, discovering outstanding grassroots programs supported by PVF.

San Francisco Business Times, January 2008, “Nonprofit Profile” of Bill Somerville, professional insights and introspections.

KFRC Radio Interview, January 22, 2008, PVF Executive Director Bill Somerville was a guest on the Morning Show on KFRC 106.9FM.

KPIX TV Interview, December 30, 2007, PVF Executive Director Bill Somerville was a guest on the Morning Show, speaking on creative end of the year giving.

KGO Radio Interview with Bill Somerville, December 14, 2007.  PVF Executive Director Bill Somerville was a guest on the Gil Gross Show, speaking on creative end of the year giving which aired December 2, 2007 on KGO 810 AM.

KCBS Radio Interview with Bill Somerville, December 2, 2007. PVF Executive Director Bill Somerville spoke on creative grantmaking on a KCBS radio interview which aired December 2, 2007 on ALICE 97.3 FM, KFRC 106.9 FM, MOVIN 99.7 FM & LIVE 105.3 FM.

Laney Tower, February 8, 2007, “Philanthropy Class Offered at Laney: Ten Grand Offered to School for Best Project,” by Vina Cera. PVF President Bill Somerville is teaching Understanding Philanthropy at Oakland’s Laney Community College, in which students will become a miniature foundation making recommendations for $10,000 in grants to benefit Laney College.

Foundation News & Commentary, March/April 2006, Vol. 47, No. 2, “Trying to [Re]build a Better South” by Jody Curtis. PVF’s Disaster MOU’s are described in this article featuring creative grantmaking in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. See Funders Planning Ahead section, pg. 47

Stanford Magazine, March/April 2006, “What Students Do with Venture Fellowships.” First two East Palo Alto Social Venture Fellows in a PVF initiated fellowship through the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford University

San Francisco Chronicle, May 4, 2004, “A Man Who Takes Trust Seriously,” by Marianne Costaninou, E1

Think “philanthropy” or “foundation” and there’s this image of stuffy do-gooders cloistered in wood-paneled offices going over stacks of grant proposals until finally, weeks and even months later, they might, just might, deign to eke out a check to a fraction of the needy applicants. Then there’s the Bill Somerville definition of philanthropy: trust.

– SF Gate, “A Man Who Takes ‘Trust’ Seriously” 

The Chronicle of Philanthropy, November 13, 2003, “No-Fuss Philanthropy,” by Darlene M. Siska, pp.13-14

Bottom banner photo credit: Craig Sherod

“We exercise a great deal of trust. You might want to use the term ‘venture’, meaning one is willing to try something even though it might not work but in your professional opinion you feel it is worth taking a risk. I don’t even know what strategic means and never use the word. Nor do I use the term ‘problem’. My commodity of exchange is ideas – what do you want to see happen and how do you propose to bring it about?”


– Bill Somerville quoted in an article in The Guardian, “Who are the future philanthropists?”