Announcement, News, Press Release

GreenLight Invests $4M to Bring Social Innovations to the Bay Area

Mar 2, 2021

San Francisco Bay Area

Includes funding for two nonprofits to address challenges exacerbated by COVID-19

Bay Area, California – March 2, 2021 – GreenLight Fund Bay Area (“GreenLight”) today announced a $4 million Fund (“GreenLight Bay Area Fund II”) with the support of local foundations, companies, individuals and families from throughout the Bay Area region to address the impacts of poverty locally. The Fund includes investments to bring nonprofits EveryoneOn and Food Connect to the Bay Area during the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations selected after a comprehensive and accelerated effort to meet the moment.

According to Brad Hoover, CEO of Grammarly and GreenLight investor and Selection Advisory Council member,​ “GreenLight’s uniquely effective approach identifies critical needs in our communities, and then finds and funds exceptional teams with sustainable models that drive real change.”

EveryoneOn and Food Connect address critical issues that have long plagued the Bay Area but have been especially exacerbated by the pandemic and concurrent economic fallout: the digital divide and food insecurity. Both organizations were selected for investment through GreenLight’s locally-driven process of elevating community-identified unmet needs and finding proven models from across the country addressing those needs to scale to the Bay Area.

“This past year uncovered the critical importance of maintaining connections between people, technology, and community as we saw those in need and the nonprofits supporting them struggling with the challenges brought on by the pandemic,” ​said Erin Baudo Felter, Vice President of Social Impact at Okta for Good and GreenLight Fund Selection Advisory Council Task Force member.​ “Food insecurity and the digital divide are two issues of immense importance in our communities right now – and for the foreseeable future. Investing in these organizations now meets the moment and we’re fortunate that we’re able to partner with GreenLight to support these issues now and for the long term.”

“Remote work and learning brought the digital divide into sharper focus. Many families are struggling with slow or no broadband internet, deficient devices and inadequate digital training. We knew we had to take rapid action,” said Kate Schwass, GreenLight Bay Area Executive Director. “​At the same time, we know that food insecurity has long impacted families across the Bay Area. Our community engagement process identified a clear need for improved logistics and operations to deliver food to both organizations and homes directly.”

After elevating these two priority entrenched challenges, GreenLight vetted over 130 organizations to identify the most effective social innovations from across the country that could best address them. Together with GreenLight’s Selection Advisory Council Task Force made up of community leaders and stakeholders, Food Connect and EveryoneOn were selected for investment and GreenLight’s team mobilized the community to ensure early impact and long-term success locally.

“GreenLight’s work to bring proven, innovative nonprofit models to the Bay Area to complement our nonprofit ecosystem aligns with Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s focus on creating greater equity for local families who are experiencing poverty. We proudly support GreenLight’s efforts to scale solutions that will ameliorate the effects of the pandemic on low-income families and in communities of color, which have been hardest hit in the past 12 months,” said Nicole Taylor, president and CEO of Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

According to Schwass, ​“With the pandemic exacerbating the needs of those hardest hit, we were able to condense into three months a selection process that typically takes us a full year in order to launch Food Connect and EveryoneOn at an unprecedented time when both programs are so needed. The cross-sector collaboration we’ve developed has resulted in region-wide partnerships that are critical to the long-term sustainability of these two organizations.”

Over the next three years, GreenLight will be an active partner with both organizations, supporting local hiring, serving on their local advisory boards, advising on strategic planning, and deepening connections to local partners and funders. In addition, GreenLight Bay Area Fund II invests in and provides active support to Blueprint Math Fellows, a program partnering with schools to offer high-quality tutorial instruction, and ParentChild+, an evidence-based early literacy, parental engagement and school readiness model. More information on GreenLight’s broad​ ​portfolio serving the Bay Area can be found on their website.

“GreenLight is being responsive and thoughtful at this critical moment. They thought through how the selection process needs to be accelerated to reflect immediate needs, while also staying true to their roots as a long-term funder. In a nuanced way, GreenLight is providing rapid relief and layering in multi-year grants, which will allow these grantees to develop their organizations.” s​aid Kamba Tshionyi, GreenLight Fund Selection Advisory Council Task Force member and Director of External Relations, Haas Center for Public Service, Stanford University.

GreenLight Bay Area’s Fund II individual, family, corporate and foundation investors include: ​Melissa and Robert Abbe, Bain Capital, The Louis L. Borick Foundation, Breyer Family, Caldwell-Fisher Foundation, Cargill, Dawson Family Fund, Sunil and Margo Dhaliwal, Alison Elliott and Steven Blank, Dana Emery, Gemmer Family Fund, Kathryn Hall and Tom Knutsen, Kelly and Michael Halper, Harrick Family Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Brad Hoover and Lillian Zhao, Kalonymus Foundation, Sara and Frederic Kerrest, Laura and Scott Kupor, Susanne and Bill Losch, Andrew F. and Ann B. Mathieson Fund, Alison and Michael Mauze, Merrill Family Foundation, Okta for Good, Anne and Robert Pedrero, Perkins Family Foundation, John Pritzker Family Fund, Mindy and Jesse Rogers, The San Francisco Foundation, Jennie Savage, Anurag and Lindsay Sharma, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Susan and John Simon, Angela and William Shulman, and Michael and Jeanne Williams.

Additional support was provided by: ​Arrow Impact,​ ​Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Goodwin Procter LLP, Grammarly, iHeartMedia, Kozin Family Foundation, Mainsail Partners,​ ​Steve Mankoff, Morgan Stanley, Ann Lee Steinberg, US Bank, Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich and Rosati APLC, and J. Wood Capital Advisors.

Watch this video to learn more:

About EveryoneOn
EveryoneOn is dedicated to creating social and economic opportunities by connecting families facing barriers to prosperity with affordable internet service and computers and delivering digital skills training. In partnership with the San Jose Digital Inclusion Fund and other Bay Area organizations, EveryoneOn will connect families to reliable broadband, support device procurement, and deliver training. In the spring, EveryoneOn will also be providing virtual digital skills training to participants from Covia and Legal Services for Children throughout the Bay Area. EveryoneOn’s year-one scale includes connecting thousands of families to the internet, directly providing digital literacy training to individuals, and training 15 local organizations to provide digital skills training and digital inclusion support.

About Food Connect
Food Connect complements the existing food insecurity ecosystem by organizing logistics and operations to get food to those who need it. Dedicated to providing hunger relief solutions, Food Connect operates a technology platform that organizes and aggregates hunger relief efforts, leveraging smart technology 24/7 to pool resources and make hunger relief efforts efficient.

Food Connect will partner with local organizations including food banks and distribution centers across the Bay Area to train volunteers, manage logistics, and execute meal deliveries to families in need of dependable access to nutritious meals. Their goal is to deliver over 500,000 meals to Bay Area families in their first year of work alone.

Together with the San Francisco Unified School District, Food Connect will deliver meals directly to students’ homes​. ​In particular, meals are being delivered to students who have a disability and special dietary needs, making pickups especially difficult during COVID-19. Food Connect is building partnerships with school districts in the South Bay to similarly support home delivery of meals to students and families who need food and, long-term, Food Connect will coordinate with organizations across the Bay to complement and support existing hunger relief programs.