Dear Friends, Donors, and Partners,
I think it is safe to say that no one foresaw the extraordinary events of 2020. Each challenge became a turning point, an opportunity to think critically and act decisively to find new ways to address escalating community needs. The decisions were not always easy; the clear path was not always obvious. Fortunately, we were not alone on our journey.
Here at the Area Foundation, we say Stronger Together all the time. There is a good reason for it.
In 2020, there was simply no way we could have mobilized the financial resources and human capital to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and social justice without the collaboration of a multitude of philanthropic partners, both within and beyond the Area Foundation. The generous spirit of the San Antonio community was on display during these tumultuous times, and we are humbled and grateful to serve as trusted advisor, supporter, and collaborative partner in philanthropy.
We were blessed to have a cadre of great leaders interested in helping the community. A special thanks to Harvey Najim and the Harvey E. Najim Charitable Foundation, David Rogers and the H. E. Butt Foundation, the Nancy Smith Hurd Foundation, and Chris Martin and the United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County for their willingness to lead, work, fund, and believe in this transformational relief fund.
The COVID-19 Response Fund was launched on March 20, 2020. Hosted by the Area Foundation and jointly managed with United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County, the Fund raised $6.4 million through the tremendous generosity of hundreds of individual donors and dozens of foundations, businesses, and civic institutions who rallied in support of our community during this crisis.
These funds were distributed to more than 200 regional nonprofits in a rapid-cycle process advanced by our Community Engagement and Impact (CEI) team. The average award size was $28,137, and grants were prioritized for organizations serving 17 of San Antonios lowest-income zip codes.
The COVID-19 Response Fund focused its grantmaking in the areas of social services, business and employment, food security, and shelter. We intentionally aligned with Mayor Ron Nirenbergs key focus areas to amplify and coordinate philanthropic and public investments to address the critical needs of San Antonians. The Area Foundation also jointly invested with the City of San Antonio and United Way in providing temporary childcare access subsidies.
Donor Advised Funds (DAFs) hosted at the Area Foundation recommended an additional $7 million in direct grants to 248 nonprofits, and 95% of all DAF giving in response to COVID-19 stayed in Bexar County.
Just-In-Time Capacity Building AND Online Resources
Fortunately for the hundreds of nonprofit professionals the Area Foundation serves through our trainings and classes, we upgraded our IT infrastructure before the pandemic struck. Working remotely since March 2020, our Learning and Development Department staff readily pivoted to online learning opportunities. In 2020, we offered 77 courses and more than 2,000 participants signed up.
We delivered timely programs and free community sessions on topics such as: Leadership in Times of Transition, Communicating Effectively in Remote Environments, Lead by Example: Sustaining Ourselves, Engaging Employees in Remote Environments, and Brave New World: Returning to Work. Also, through a partnership with Candid, the Area Foundation offered free, online access for all area nonprofits to the Foundation Directory Online the most exhaustive and up-to-date database on grant makers
DATA-DRIVEN EVENTS AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
The COVID-19 pandemic fostered many opportunities for us to engage more deeply with donors and supporters within and beyond the Area Foundation. Throughout the year, we delivered well-attended philanthropic briefings to internal donors and volunteers on COVID-19 and on topics such as corporate social responsibility. We engaged a host of civic and business leaders through strategic conversations and with organizations as varied as Rotary, Humana, and Vistage.
The Area Foundation contributed to the Mayors Taskforce on Workforce Development serving as a key partner. This taskforce was pivotal to the development of and advocacy for Proposition B, which was approved by San Antonio voters in the November election. The initiative, SA Ready to Work, funded by a one-eighth-cent sales tax, will grow job training programs, scholarships, and emergency financial assistance for up to 40,000 residents caught in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Area Foundation provided a start-up grant to the Family Independence Initiative (now UpTogether) which fostered partnerships with several local funders to place earned income directly into the hands of working families. San Antonio is now one of only a dozen sites across the nation to deploy this innovative and proven program which provides access to capital and fuels family-driven solutions. Alongside other local partners, the Area Foundation invested in the launch of Get Shift Done for San Antonio and neighboring communities. The program coordinates, schedules, and pays adversely affected hourly workers in the hospitality industry to work paid shifts for organizations such as the San Antonio Food Bank. It helps food service workers who lost their paychecks and provides immediate support to nonprofits stretched in providing food service to people in need.
The Area Foundation partnered with United Way, H. E. Butt Foundation, and LISC San Antonio on a weekly survey to more than 100 nonprofits to assess real-time community needs and engage donors on the most impactful investments. Our approach on the highest-level poverty zip codes in Bexar County illuminated sound and equitable approaches for our philanthropic partners and influenced their grantmaking.
These are just a few of the highlights featured in our 2020 impact report. You will learn more about our commitment and our work to mobilize philanthropy, lead in the community, and operate with excellence. Thanks to your partnership, we can continue to serve our communitys needs today, while building a better tomorrow for all who call our region home.
Marjie French, CEO, San Antonio Area Foundation