Silicon Valley Community Foundation

SVCF’s mission is to channel the excess wealth flooding Silicon Valley into worthy, charitable causes around the world. One of the systems SVCF uses as a means of helping nonprofits all around the world is Donor Circles.

Each circle has its own focus or philanthropic cause. Currently, the Donor Circles include Donor Circle for the Environment, Donor Circle of the Arts, Donor Circle for Africa and Donor Circle for Safety Net.

Each Donor Circle consists of individuals interested specifically in the circle’s cause who wish to fund nonprofits in the given field that are in need of support.

For example, the Donor Circle for Africa “works with nonprofit groups and entrepreneurs in Africa whose projects demonstrate sustainable and affordable solutions for essential needs.” Since 2012, this Donor Circle has given out over $50,000-worth of grants.

For example, the Donor Circle for Africa “works with nonprofit groups and entrepreneurs in Africa whose projects demonstrate sustainable and affordable solutions for essential needs.” Since 2012, this Donor Circle has given out over $50,000-worth of grants.

Aside from these Donor Circles, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation also gives grants and scholarships to individuals.

On an individual level, two of the issues SVCF specializes in are immigration and education.

In a brief describing the work they do for immigrants in Silicon Valley, SVCF acknowledges a pervasive obstacle in immigrants’ successful assimilation: lack of access to educational resources and aid. The organization attributes immigrants’ difficulties in finding work to an “insufficient number of effective English-language learning, job training and legal services.”

In a San Francisco Chronicle article about SVCF, two recipients of Silicon Valley Community Foundation grants recount some of the challenges they faced as new immigrants. Ramon Alvarez, a 28-year-old Mexican-born immigrant, says that he used to fear interactions with native English speakers, but with the help of SVCF, now he will “talk to anyone.”

In a community with booming affluence, an organization like the Silicon Valley Community Foundation stands as a crucial mobilizer for the many causes that truly deserve the world’s attention.

Liz Pudel

Sources: SVCF 1, SVCF 2, SVCF 3, SVCF 4, San Francisco Chronicles

Photo: Wikimedia Commons,

cdaCDA Collaborative Learning Projects is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the effectiveness of international actors who provide humanitarian assistance.

Working off the premise that experience is a good teacher, CDA facilitates collaborative learning processes to analyze the experiences of international efforts.

With this vision comes a mission to encourage communities to engage in peace practice and to support sustainable development.

CDA works with agencies and organizations to identify patterns and lessons across different contexts in order to improve effectiveness. So far its core staff has worked in over 90 countries with local and international partners.

Below is the implementation process of these CDA lessons that often produces new focus questions for improving effectiveness:

Step 1: Development of Training and Awareness Materials

The findings from a collaborative learning process are translated into a form that can be used in different briefings, exposure workshops and extended training events in order to make such findings accessible to other field practitioners.

Step 2: Building Individual Capacity

CDA training programs work not only with organizations but also with individual practitioners to develop the skills needed to implement CDA lessons into their own practices. Mentoring can play a big role in this area when it comes to knowing how to apply specific tools surrounding the framework of a specific organizational setting.

Step 3: Organizational Accompaniment

CDA works directly with partner organizations to incorporate the tools and concepts from its lessons into their routines so that the tools and concepts become a day-to-day practice. This may require training and various forms of coaching to ensure sustainability.

Step 4: Support for Improved Program Design

CDA lessons often require changes in the ways that programs are designed. Thus, it works with partner agencies to promote improvements that will result in better quality programming through design and implementation.

Step 5: Monitoring Progress and Impacts

CDA works with its partners to track the implementation of its skills, tools and concepts gained from CDA programs. This feedback ultimately tells if the application of CDA materials makes a positive difference in the effectiveness of programming.

Step 6: Implications and New Questions

When everyone comes together to share their experiences, new focus questions arise that add to the learning processes — and the cycle repeats!

Since its launch, CDA has been grounded in field experience rather than following a specific theory or model and develops the above process through which organizations learn with each other rather than relying on their experiences alone.

CDA is currently home to the Corporate Engagement Program, the Do No Harm Program and other peace practice programs. For more information, please visit the CDA website at

Chelsee Yee

Sources: CDA Collarborative, ALNAP, Relief Web
Photo: Flickr