United Way Silicon Valley Awards Innovation Grants

United Way Silicon Valley has awarded Innovation Fund grants to Opportunity Fund and YMCA of Silicon Valley to support two innovative programs that will improve local lives. The grants were designed to encourage creativity and inventiveness in the nonprofit community.

Opportunity Fund - Logo“This grant means so much to Opportunity Fund and the low-income people in our community who will benefit from United Way Silicon Valley’s investment,” said Eric Weaver, founder and CEO of Opportunity Fund. “Start2Save was four years in the making, and will help some of the Bay Area’s most vulnerable residents build their own safety net, gaining financial capability with the tools and incentive people need to save for a brighter future.”

YMCA - Logo“The YMCA of Silicon Valley is thrilled to be a recipient of United Way’s Innovation Fund,” said Mary Hoshiko Haughey, vice president of Program and Community Development for YMCA of Silicon Valley. “Through this investment, the Y will be able to involve hundreds of East San Jose family, friend and neighbor caregivers and the children they care for in the new YMCA Early Learning Play Groups. Learning through play is key to a child’s development and readiness for kindergarten, and we are excited to create these learning opportunities for children and their caregivers.”  

Innovation Fund Press Release, June 15, 2011 (PDF)




  • Financial Education and Nutritional Outreach (FENO). West Valley Community Services. The FENO project will use their Mobile Food Pantry as a gateway to bring basic financial education, enrollment in resources such as food stamps (CalFresh), and nutrition information to clients who use the food pantry, bringing a range of comprehensive services to families that might not otherwise be able to access.

  • Start2Save – Opportunity Fund. Start2Save is a first-of-its-kind micro-savings program that would enable low-income families to gain financial capability and create a "buffer savings" fund. This is a crucial first step toward their financial stability - empowering them to create their own safety net. Start2Save gives participants the tools and knowledge to prevent, manage, and recover from short-term financial emergencies.

  • Project E-Learning – Vietnamese Voluntary Foundation, Inc.. Project E-Learning is an online program aimed at improving children’s success in school. It will offer comprehensive case management with an online teaching tool. 100 students and their parents would receive tutoring help, reports on students’ progress at school, case manager support, and parenting courses, all online.

  • Early Learning Readiness Group – YMCA of Silicon Valley. This effort will build the skills of those family, friends and neighbors that provide much of the early childhood care in our community.  The project will teach caregivers in East San Jose how to provide rich, play-based, quality early learning experiences. This will result in improved kindergarten readiness for the children in their care.  Because these caregivers practice what they learn, and teach others in their family, benefits from this peer-to-peer learning will ripple broadly throughout the community.

  • "Housing 1,000" – Community Technology Alliance. This project is part of a county-wide effort to end chronic homelessness. It brings together change agents to find and house 1,000 of the county’s most long-term and vulnerable homeless individuals. It will focus resources and support on the most vulnerable chronically homeless, changing systems to provide seamless services that result in getting people off the street and into permanent housing.

"These programs offer innovative ways to help achieve two of United Way Silicon Valley’s goals: improving financial stability for local families and individuals and closing the racial/ethnic academic achievement gap,” said Carole Leigh Hutton, president and CEO of United Way Silicon Valley. “The Innovation Fund was created to provide seed money for creative pilot programs like these at a time when nonprofits are struggling due to the recent recession.”

Patrick Soricone: 408.345.4337
Toni Ensunsa: 408.345.4382


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