Philanthropedia Blog

Archive for October, 2010

Community Housing Partnership: #5 High Impact Nonprofit in the Bay Area for Homelessness

October 11th, 2010

Today we highlight our #5 top nonprofit working to help the homeless population in the San Francisco Bay Area: Community Housing Partnership. Our experts reported that CHP was so extraordinary because less than 2% of the people the organization serves, return to homelessness. CHP owns, manages and/or provides services at 11 properties with 755 units of housing, serving over 1500 tenants. They are developing 3 new housing sites with a total of 287 apartments.

Did you know this organization was born out of the ashes of the 1989 earthquake? To tell you more about this outstanding nonprofit, we wanted to share the founding story of CHP:

In 1988, a study called “Transitional Housing: The Next Step” was drafted by Paul Boden, Joe Wilson, Greg Francis, and Laura Ware of the Coalition on Homelessness. This study emphasized the need for the City of San Francisco to begin prioritizing the creation of affordable, permanent housing rather than continuing to emphasize transitional housing and shelters.

This same study was reviewed by then Mayor Art Agnos, and ultimately adopted by the City as formal policy. But it was the Loma Prieta Earthquake in October of 1989 that gave impetus to the implementation of the ideas outlined in this study. With the destruction caused by the earthquake, many of the hotels used for emergency housing by the Department of Human Services had been rendered unsafe for residency. The City thus had these emergency housing funds as well as FEMA funds to support reconstructing projects; private foundations were also looking at ways to support rebuilding after this destruction. This combination of factors led to a meeting between various city departments, members of the Council of Community Housing Organizations (CCHO – the San Francisco coalition of non-profit housing developers), and members of the Coalition on Homelessness (COH – an advocacy organization composed of homeless people, advocates, service providers, and community members). At this and subsequent meetings it was decided that these two coalitions would work in partnership to create a new organization whose specific purpose and mission was to develop housing dedicated and affordable to homeless people, which was called the Community Housing Partnership.

(To learn more, visit:

To view more expert reviews of CHP go here.

Press Release: 13 Top Bay Area Homelessness Nonprofits Identified by 83 Experts

October 10th, 2010

People who are homeless are not social inadequates. They are people without homes. -Sheila McKechnie

Approximately 1% of U.S. population (3.5 million people) experience homelessness over the course of a year. In the Bay area, there are approximately 35,000 homeless people; In San Francisco, estimates put the number between 7,000-15,000, which is the highest per capita rate of homelessness in any major American city.

In 2009, donors gave about $27 billion to human service nonprofits which represents 9% of all giving in the US (out of $300 billion total). (From Giving USA 2010 report.)

Because of the large homeless population in the Bay Area, we decided to conduct research to find out which nonprofits were most effective in working with and helping this group of people. We ran this research in 2009 and surveyed 83 Bay Area homelessness experts (with an average of 14 years of work experience in the field) to identify those organizations that were making the biggest impact in the field.

These experts (funders, researchers, nonprofit senior staff, government officials, etc.) identified 13 top homelessness nonprofits (out of 89 total reviewed nonprofits) working in the San Francisco Bay Area. These organizations include homeless shelters, housing providers, advocacy groups, former-foster youth service providers, family support service providers, and food providers.

The following is the list of the top-recommended high-impact nonprofits working on homelessness in the Bay Area. “Agree” is the number of experts who agree that the nonprofit has had the most impact in this field. “Disagree” is the number of experts who disagree that the nonprofit has had the most impact in this field.

13 Top High-Impact Nonprofits # of Experts who Agree # of Experts who Disagree Year Founded Location

Larkin Street Services

42 0 1984 San Francisco, CA

St. Anthony Foundation

32 1 1950 San Francisco, CA

Episcopal Community Services of San Francisco

28 0 1989 San Francisco, CA

Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation

28 1 1981 San Francisco, CA

Community Housing Partnership

26 0 1990 San Francisco, CA

First Place for Youth

25 1 1998 San Francisco, CA

Homeless Prenatal Program

24 0 1989 San Francisco, CA


25 5 1929 San Francisco,CA

Shelter Network of San Mateo County

21 1 1987 Burlingame, CA

The Hamilton Family Center

21 1 1985 San Francisco, CA

Abode Services (formerly Tri-City Homeless Coalition)

20 0 1989 Fremont, CA

Central City Hospitality House

15 2 1967 San Francisco, CA

Coalition on Homelessness

14 4 1987 San Francisco, CA

This week we will highlight the top 5 Bay Area homelessness nonprofits. We invite you to visit the profiles of each of these top organizations on our website to read the expert reviews here: Experts commented on the impact each nonprofit has had, what the nonprofit’s other organizational strengths are, and how each organization could further improve.

We also invite your feedback here and on our website. Please tell us what you think and what experiences you’ve had with these organizations!

Bay Area Early Childhood Education Top Nonprofit Countdown: Highlighting Nonprofit #6

October 9th, 2010

Early childhood education is just a subsection of the larger world of education. In total, Philanthropedia experts identified 6 nonprofits that fall in this category in the Bay Area. Today, we will highlight #6 with just a brief summary of its impact according to our experts.

#6 Partners in School Innovation

Partners in School Innovation engages leaders at site and district levels to align in turning around the lowest performing schools. While they are a leadership initiative, their metrics have always been based in making gains in student academic performance. Literacy results of partner schools that Partners in School Innovation supports have increased and outperformed similar districts. One can see the direct results in the Applied Materials/San Jose Unified School District programs.

Read more about them here.

View our entire list of top 6 Bay Area early childhood education nonprofits here: and dig deeper to review what experts had to say about each organization. Especially if you are a Bay Area resident, add early childhood education to your list of great causes to support this holiday season. You can feel confident that your donation is going to support an outstanding group of nonprofits making a real difference in education.

Raising a Reader: #1 High Impact Nonprofit in the Bay Area for Early Childhood Education

October 8th, 2010

Today we honor the #1 ranked early childhood education nonprofit in the Bay Area: Raising a Reader. This organization has had a significant impact on developing a love of reading in young children and has been instrumental in supporting families in having more literacy-related experiences with their children. They also boast a standardized curriculum across sites and they have proven to be sustainable over time. Raising a Reader’s impact has been measured by fifteen independent evaluations, universities, and evaluation consulting firms.

Here’s some more information about how Raising a Reader works:

Raising a Reader is a national nonprofit organization that offers an evidence-based early-literacy and parent-engagement program. It currently serves 110,000 children through its 2,500 affiliate sites across the country. During the program, each child is exposed to approximately 100 books per year, and parents and caregivers are trained in interactive read-aloud strategies. This training helps parents and caregivers learn how to engage their child by sharing a book.

The program works by rotating bright red bags filled with award-winning books into children’s homes on a weekly basis. Through Raising a Reader, families are connected with their local public library. At the culmination of the program, children receive a blue library bag to keep and continue the practice of borrowing books.

“No other library service has the outcome-based evaluation results that Raising a Reader has,” said Nell Colburn, librarian at Multnomah County Library. “Our evaluations consistently show substantial gains in changing parent and caregiver behaviors around books and reading.”

(Read more at:

To learn more about Raising a Reader and their impact, read the expert reviews here.

Bay Area YMCAs: #2 High Impact Nonprofit in the Bay Area for Early Childhood Education

October 7th, 2010

YMCAs have been around since the late 1800s and have spread across the country. There are a number of YMCA branches in the Bay Area and this is our #2 recommended top nonprofit in early childhood education. The YMCA is an early childhood development program which has historically provided services in areas that are very difficult and dangerous to serve—often with high levels of unemployment and crime. The YMCA uses a Montessori classroom framework and children thrive in this environment.

We found the story of Sharon Watts, the mother of a child who has been attending the Safe Haven Program:

My name is Sharron Watts and my daughter has been coming to the Safe Haven Program for 4 years now. Her name is Imani Bishop and she attends Claire Lilienthal Middle School. I live in Bayview Hunter’s Point and I work in the Western Addition. Because I couldn’t afford afterschool care for Imani, I had been looking for a free program that would assist Imani with her homework and provide some type of activities for her to participate in.

After looking at a number of afterschool programs within the Western Addition including the afterschool program at her school, the Safe Haven at the Buchanan YMCA seemed to be the best fit for me. The Safe Haven provided the type of structure that I was looking for, they helped her with her homework for as long as she needed it for the day, she received incentives for different activities, they have computers and they even had recreational activities. Another positive aspect about that program is that they stayed open until 7pm and if there were errands that I needed to run, I knew I could leave Imani there and she wouldn’t care because she was having fun at the Safe Haven.

Lastly, last year the director of the program wrote a letter of recommendation for Imani to receive a scholarship for High School. That really touches my heart because she took time out of her schedule to write a letter that would potentially help me and my family out financially. I truly appreciate all the help from the staff because it’s like a family down there. They really care for the children. Once my other children become of age, I will send them there too.

(To learn more visit:

Read more reviews from early childhood education experts here to learn more about the great work the Bay Area YMCAs are doing.

New Philanthropedia Service Launched: Expertise on Demand

October 6th, 2010

Launched in time for the Social Capital Markets Conference 2010 held this year in San Francisco, Expertise on Demand (beta) is a new Philanthropedia service that acts as a trusted intermediary connecting major donors, philanthropy advisors, and foundations with experts who can help fill knowledge gaps quickly and efficiently and channel more money to high-impact nonprofits and projects.

Donors use this service by filling in a brief form with the question they would like to ask an expert. Philanthropedia then searches its database of thousands of experts to find a good match, ultimately connecting the donor with the expert via a phone call. You can learn more about the service here:

We are now accepting requests from donors! If you are interested in using this service, please complete the request form here. (To learn more, read our policies here.)

If you are an expert and would like to be added to the network, please complete the sign-up form here. (To learn more, read our policies here.)

Because this is a new product in its beta form, we will continue to improve and refine our process over the next year so the exact details of this service may change. We are actively collecting feedback and would love to hear from you! If you have a recommendation about how to improve this service or would like to share your ideas, please contact us at

We look forward to working with you!

Kidango: #3 High Impact Nonprofit in the Bay Area for Early Childhood Education

October 6th, 2010

Kidango, our #3 ranked early childhood education nonprofit in the Bay Area, has developed an early childhood education and development program that is driven by the needs of the child, the child’s family, and the needs of the (primarily low-income) community that it serves. It is one of the few programs that offer service access to mental health, nutrition, and medical based on the needs of the child and family. It has actively sought out and enrolled children with special needs and has an extensive parent involvement program to engage the parents in their understanding their child’s holistic needs as well as the provision of support to the parents themselves.

We found this story from a parent of a Kidango child who is grateful to Kidango’s early childhood programs:

I became a mother at the age of 22. I was a single mother trying to support my daughter with very little income. I was living with my parents who did what they could to help me, but financially it was very difficult. I had a difficult time finding child care because what I made was just not enough. I heard about Community Family Services through a relative of mine. I signed up for the program right away.

My daughter was placed in a family child care home, and it was very affordable. I couldn’t believe it. My daughter was not only looked after while I was at work, but she was potty trained and learned her ABC’s there. She loved it! She was well taken care of and I was relieved to know that someone from Community Family Services would visit the family child care home to make sure that everything was running fine.

When the holidays came around, the children in the family child care home were sponsored by people in the community. My daughter, Melissa*, came home with so many presents. Just to see her face when she opened those presents brought tears to my eyes. I could only give her what I could, but it was nice to know that people out there cared about these children, and they were willing to give what they could for them. After a couple of years, I started making more money at my job and Melissa started kindergarten, so I took her out of the program. I know how hard it is being a single parent and I know there are a lot of single parents out there that need help and get help from you. I received so much help through Kidango, and I am thankful to all of you at Kidango and what you do for the community. THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING!

*Names of all children have been changed to honor confidentiality of the family

(To learn more visit:

Read more reviews from early childhood education experts here to learn more about the great work Kidango is doing.

Jumpstart: #4 High Impact Nonprofit in the Bay Area for Early Childhood Education

October 5th, 2010

Our #4 nonprofit, Jumpstart, is a nationally-scaled organization that uses researched base, relevant curricula, and instructional practices to help support early literacy. Actual achievement gains are carefully measured, and the organization has commissioned studies to demonstrate this impact. Further, Jumpstart effectively engages college students (as tutors) and the broader community (through Read for the Record).

Here’s the story of Emilio Rodriguez, a college student and community volunteer:

Before joining Jumpstart, my life revolved around my own interests, my free time, and my needs. More importantly, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. That all changed when I met Octavio, my partner child.

My experience with Jumpstart showed me the influence I could have on someone else. Every session, Octavio would choose the same book, Green Eggs and Ham. I decided to use my acting skills to bring the characters to life with distinct voices, accents, and gestures. One day, Octavio noticed that there were two copies of Green Eggs and Ham. “Here you go,” he said handing me one of the books. “What are we going to do with that?” I asked. “Read,” he replied.

We sat down and he opened the book. When I started to read the first line, he reached over and opened my copy to the same page. As we continued reading I noticed Octavio was saying something in an angry voice. “What’s wrong, Octavio?” I asked. “I will not eat on train or plane, here or there,” he said, staring at the pictures. I realized that he was imitating the voices that I had used to read the story to him. He was able to recall all of the key points in the story. He even spoke with the same accents and gestures that I had created for the characters! I never thought that I could engage a child into reading. Octavio was defying those who doubted him: he was reading!

Octavio showed me that everything we do can influence someone in a special way. The things we overlook as small occurrences can be major events to someone else. I also learned that you should never set low expectations for someone, because if you give them your time, any child can succeed. I always thought that I would need to travel someday to make a difference, but I soon realized that I could make a difference in my own community.

(To learn more, visit:

We invite you to read more reviews from experts about Jumpstart here.

Back to School: Collaboration in Education Across the Nation

October 4th, 2010

By Adam C. Bad Wound (learn more about Adam here: under the Alumni tab)

From coast to coast, Newark to Oakland, collaboration in education has been a hot topic in philanthropy – and for good reason. A recent report by the U.S. Census bureau announced that the official poverty rate in 2009 increased to 14.3 percent, from 13.2 percent in 2008. The number of people living in poverty increased by four million to 43.6 million or nearly one in seven U.S. residents.

In light of these figures, collaborative innovations in education have become an important issue across the nation, evident in a number of recent high-profile philanthropic events on the Oprah Winfrey Show. In its final season, a recent show confronted the education crisis, as Oprah brought together an innovative group of cross-sector leaders who are collaborating to reform education in America.

Angel Network Finale

On the show, Oprah Winfrey announced she will be shutting down her Angel Network charity, as her talk show comes to a close in its final season. As its last gift, Oprah’s Angel Network gave away $6 million to successful charter schools from across the country.

Each of the six schools selected by Oprah received $1 million, including Aspire Public Schools (Philanthropedia top nonprofit) in California, the Denver School of Science and TechnologyLEARN Charter School Network in Chicago, Mastery Charter Schools in Philadelphia, the New Orleans Charter Science and Math Academy and YES Prep Public Schools in Houston.

Waiting for Superman

The show featured documentary filmmaker Davis Guggenheim, who recently released Waiting for “Superman”, an exhaustive review of public education that follows a group of students stuck in “drop-out factories” and “academic sinkholes,” methodically dissecting the system and its seemingly intractable problems. Guggenheim also offers hope by exploring innovative approaches taken by education reformers and charter schools that have—in reshaping the culture—refused to leave their students behind.

The documentary includes remarks by Bill Gates, co-chair and trustee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (Philanthropedia top nonprofit), and features a group of innovative education reformers, including Geoffrey Canada, president and CEO of Harlem Children’s Zone (Philanthropedia top nonprofit), and Michelle Rhee, chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools, among others.

Startup: Education

In a highly-anticipated announcement on the same show, Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, pledged $100 million to help Newark Public Schools. The gift also establishes a new partnership between New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie, who will give some control to Newark’s Mayor, Cory Booker. The agreement allows the mayor a prominent voice in choosing a new school superintendent and redeveloping the school system.

To broaden his philanthropic strategy, Zuckerberg has launched a match-donation fundraising campaign to support the initiative’s new foundation: Startup: Education. The challenge is off to a great start, with William Ackman, investor and founder of the Pershing Square Foundation, pledging $25-million toward meeting the challenge grant.

Collaboration in Education

These high-profile donations have common goals and purposefully seek to achieve the highest amount of impact in education, in part by targeting the areas with greatest need. For example, according to the Wall Street Journal, “About half of Newark’s 40,000 students don’t graduate, and more than 85% of graduates who attend a local community college need remedial help in math and English. Only a fifth of Newark graduates enroll in four-year institutions.”

We also see that Mark Zuckerberg is making a donation not based on a personal connection to the school district, but because of his interest in a social cause: education. Moreover, he’s making a decision based on research about where and how he can make the biggest impact with his giving. And, he’s directing his philanthropic giving toward collaborative partners, people he trusts and supports. Taken together, this group of individuals has raised the issue, encouraged dialogue, and taken action.

Collaboration is an essential component in the Philanthropedia model.  Our experts speak independently and collectively.  Their combined expertise reminds us that when we come together, we can give better.

Philanthropedia’s been focused on education this year, as well. We recently announced a list of 13 top national education nonprofits, 15 top Bay Area middle-secondary education nonprofits, and 6 top Bay Area early childhood education nonprofits.

Among the great nonprofits listed in this post, the Philanthropedia list of top nonprofits includes Aspire Public Schools, the Gates Foundation, and Harlem Children’s Zone.

Reading Partners: #5 High Impact Nonprofit in the Bay Area for Early Childhood Education

October 4th, 2010

Reading Partners is #5 on our list of top Bay Area early childhood education nonprofits. With this organization’s one-on-one literacy development model, students improve in their reading fluency and comprehension.

To learn more about this nonprofit, we found this story of Ashley, a first grade student who benefited from this organization’s program.

Parents, teachers, and Ms. Redfern’s first-grade class sat in the audience waiting to see students like Ashley perform at the annual Reading Partners recital. When it was Ashley’s turn, she strutted to the front of the audience, announced her name, and began reading from “A Garden.” No one from the back of the room needed to ask Ashley to speak up. She read like a ham. Every time she’d finish reading a page, she’d pause, look at her audience adoringly, and hold the book up like a teacher to show everyone the pictures on the page.

First-grade teacher Kristin Redfern described Ashley before working with a tutor at Reading Partners. ”Ashley was my student who would cry when asked if she would read a story,” Ms. Redfern said. “She wouldn’t read; she didn’t have that confidence.”

Now Ms. Redfern says that Ashley is excited about reading and what she’s learning.”Ashley is a student who anytime during the day loves to come up to me and show me the words that she knows. And that wasn’t there before.”

When you ask Ashley what she thinks about Reading Partners, she says, “It’s my favorite.” She says it’s because her tutor, Grace, is helping her to learn. Grace Conley, Reading Partners tutor, says that she and Ashley have built “quite a relationship.” Observing Grace and Ashley together, Nuree Choe, Reading Partners site director, has seen firsthand what a critical role Grace has played in helping Ashley focus and in building her self-confidence. Choe says, “I am reminded how much potential a student has that, in a lot of cases, doesn’t get tapped into in a large public school.”

(Read more success stories here:

Read more of the praise experts have for this top education nonprofit here.

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