LACF sparks local non-profits with more than $50,000 in grants 

Los Altos Community Foundation (LACF) has completed its third grant making cycle this fiscal year, awarding 12 grants to non-profits that serve Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, and Mountain View.

These grants benefit our communities in areas such as health, assisting vulnerable populations, youth, diversity training and support, arts and culture, and community building.

Current grants support activities such as Family Engagement Institute’s (FEI) launch of a tuition-free summer school program, Stretch to Kindergarten – specifically for children who are eligible for Free and Reduced Price meals who live within the LASD boundary, Festival of Light Parade Association’s complete upgrade and refurbishment of the Drummer Boy float – done with the help of local Eagle Scout candidates, Child Advocates of SV’s training of volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) for foster children, and Los Altos Stage Company’s artistic and creative programs in 2015.

LACF’s Community Grants program helps sustain programs at established local organizations including:

  • Ye Olde Towne Band
  • Community Health Awareness Council (CHAC)
  • Music for Minors,

and new or expanded initiatives such as Family & Children Services LGBTQ ‘Youth Space’ program benefitting youth and young adults in the North Santa Clara County.

“LACF is proud of how its grants have positively benefitted the social, environmental, and economic aspects of our community,” said Joe Eyre, LACF Executive Director.

The Foundation has granted over $1.1 million to our local communities since its founding in 1991. Beginning in 2007, LACF has been managing a re-granting program for the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and in 2015, began a re-granting program with the Heising-Simons Foundation.


LACF welcomes two new board members

Jean Limbach
Community Volunteer

Jean has been involved in community service for over 20 years. As an active member of the Junior League of Palo Alto-Mid Peninsula, Jean has served on the Board of Directors in a variety of positions including: Community VP, Administrative VP, Finance VP and President as well as chair of the League’s Endowment Fund.

Within the Los Altos community, Jean has served on the board of the Los Altos Education Foundation, as President of the Almond PTA, and as Secretary of the Los Altos-Mountain View PTA Council. She is currently on the board of the Stanford Hills Chapter of National Charity League. Jean is an 18 year resident of Los Altos where she lives with her husband and daughter. In addition to serving on the board, Jean is helping LACF as part of a team evaluating how we could manage and incubate programs even better.

Julie Mahowald
CFO Consultant

Julie has worked as a Corporate Treasurer, Controller and CFO for several technology companies and continues to consult in Corporate Finance for small to medium sized companies. She holds an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School and an MA in International Studies from the School of Arts and Sciences of the University of Pennsylvania where she was a Lauder Institute Fellow. She earned her BA at Tulane University.

Julie currently serves as Vice President of East Palo Alto Kids foundation where she has been a board member for eight years. She is also a Sustainer of the Junior League of Palo Alto.

Previously Julie has volunteered in many capacities in her children’s schools: PTA President of Almond Elementary School, Parliamentarian of the Los Altos High School PTSA, and Chair of LAHS’s Writers Week. Julie was also an Advisor to the Rosalie Rendu Center in East Palo Alto. Julie is now LACF’s Treasurer and chair of our Finance Committee.

We are very thrilled to have both Jean and Julie on the LACF Board!

Applications for the 2015-16 program are now open

E3 New Member Photo

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If you are currently in 8th, 9th, or 10th grade, a Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, or Mountain View resident, or attend school in Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, or Mountain View, we invite you to apply to become a member of next year’s E3 program. The program runs from late August, 2015 through early June 2016. As a program member, you will:

  • Develop your leadership and communication skills
  • Design and participate in monthly service projects
  • Connect with local nonprofit organizations
  • Learn from local philanthropists about the potential impact of giving
  • Become an effective grant-maker and strategic youth philanthropist

The E3 program term is for two years. We will meet on Wednesday evenings 7-9pm, from late August -early June. We have an all-day retreat in August and service projects (weekends and/or evenings) throughout the year.

Applications (and letters of recommendation) are due by 9am April 27 2015.

The fee to participate is $150 per year. Financial assistance is available.

Questions? Contact Program Director: Skye DeLano or Advisor Catherine Herzog

Liz Simons of Heisings-Simons Foundation to speak at Gardner Awards Dinner

LizPic2014ALiz Simons is president of the Heising-Simons Foundation, a family foundation dedicated to sustainable, research-based solutions in early childhood education, climate/environment, and science. After earning a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the UC Berkeley and a Master’s in Education from Stanford, Liz taught high school English and, subsequently, English as a Second Language in elementary school.
She founded Stretch to Kindergarten, a summer program that facilitates the transition to kindergarten for children without significant preschool experience. Liz currently serves on the Leadership Council of Too Small to Fail, which focuses on improving the health and well-being of America’s youngest children.
She is on the board of the Foundation for a Just Society and a member of the advisory council for Stanford’s Graduate School of Education.
She and her husband, Mark Heising, have two children: Caitlin and Matthew.

Gardner Awards Welcomes Back Jeff Applebaum

After 20+ years in California, this New York City native is finally learning to understand the local language. Jeff’s comedy examines his particular life experiences, which include being the only white kid on his Little League team in Queens, moving to Long Island for high school, having a Chinese wife and raising children who calls themselves “Jewnese,” because he says it sounds better than “Chine-ish.”
Jeff made his national U.S. TV debut on CBS as a comedian on the “Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.”  He has also appeared on Comics Unleashed and Comedy.TV, Byron Allen’s nationally syndicated Entertainment Studio programs, ABC-TV, and opened for and performed with comic legends Robert Klein, Richard Lewis, Robin Williams, Kevin Pollak, Jake Johannsen, and more.  He’s also a frequent guest on KGO Radio, AM810.
Jeff was cast by Sandy Hackett, the late Buddy Hackett’s son, to play the principal role of Joey Bishop in the long-running musical tribute “The Rat Pack Is Back,” in San Francisco, Chicago, Manchester, NH, and Las Vegas. Jeff is also credited and appears in the blockbuster film “The Pursuit of Happyness,” starring Will Smith.
Prior to comedy, Jeff worked as an engineer, using his two degrees from MIT. Along with performing, he is currently developing Comedy Apps, and lives with his wife and three children in Silicon Valley, California.  Learn more at

MVLA Scholar Behind the Gold Statue (The Oscars)

Last year, William Martinez attended the Oscars.  Actually, he was working at the Oscars, and you can trace a chain of events from this plum job back to MVLA Community Scholars, a program of the Los Altos Community Foundation, that offers recurring college scholarships and mentors to local low-income youth.

Martinez, an intern of NBC Universal, helped on movie projects, assisting stars and producers, as well as working at the Oscars!  Although it sounds glamorous, it was not an easy road to get there.

William attended UCLA in 2009, majoring in Political Science with a minor in Film, but was forced to return home after only one year despite having been offered several scholarships. “The financial burden was just overwhelming,” he says.

According to Martinez, he “took classes at Foothill Community College to keep myself on track and… found a job at a startup in Silicon Valley.  After a year and a half I was able to return to UCLA.”

Nancy Federman, a member of MVLA Scholars and William’s college mentor adds, “The wonderful thing about MVLA Scholars is that they are committed to the student and stick with them until they graduate, even if it takes more than 4 years.”

Both Nancy and William agree that the most important quality Martinez demonstrated was perseverance.  Keeping his goals foremost in mind, working through every challenge, being patient, and never losing faith; these were the elements of his success.

Once back at UCLA, William became an intern, then an assistant for Emmett Furla Films where he met actors, producers and industry specialists. The experience and networking from this job helped when he applied to NBC Universal.

Martinez acknowledges that he and Federman “…have a great relationship. She has been a great support system throughout my entire journey. Without her help, I wouldn’t be in the place I am now. Thanks to her and the financial support of MVLA Scholars, I have had the chance to meet incredible people. I was also able to find out exactly what I want to do with my life.  I have worked with James Franco and Mark Wahlberg, worked the Oscars, and attended the MTV Movie Awards, Music Video Awards and the Alma Awards.  Who could have dreamed this?” William did.

MVLA Scholars is a program of the Los Altos Community Foundation.

If you would like to help more deserving youth find their dreams, contact

Ways and Means Passes Charitable Tax Provisions

The House Ways and Means Committee met today to markup several important bills focused on the charitable sector. The actions included making permanent charitable “tax extenders,” such as the IRA charitable rollover and simplifying the private foundation excise tax on investment income to a single rate of 1%. All four bills were passed out of the Committee, and will move to a full House of Representatives vote. Council staff were present for a first-hand look at the action.

Here is a full list of the charitable bills passed by the Committee on Wednesday:

H.R. 637, “To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to make permanent the rule allowing certain tax-free distributions from individual retirement accounts for charitable purposes.”
H.R. 640, “To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to modify the tax rate for excise tax on investment income of private foundations.”
H.R. 644, “To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to permanently extend and expand the charitable deduction for contributions of food inventory.”
H.R. 641, “Conservation Easement Incentive Act of 2015.”
The Vote

The votes broke down along party lines, with Republicans passing them out of Committee. Many of the Democratic members who commented during the three-hour long markup spoke in strong support of the substance and purpose of these provisions, citing examples of how these charitable incentives have supported and improved conditions in their districts.

But, Democrats voted against the measures for two reasons. They objected that:

1.     None of these bills were “paid for” with spending offsets in other places, and

2.     They were being “cherry picked” and not considered within the broader context of comprehensive tax reform.

House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI-1) took the position that the provisions did not require offsets because they were essentially permanent law. The Chairman noted in his opening statement that “all of these ideas have broad, bipartisan support. Most of them have been part of the tax code for years. It’s about time we got around to making them permanent—instead of all these back-to-the-future extensions. Let’s make them permanent. Give people certainty. Move America forward.”

Congressman Aaron Schock (R-IL-18), who sponsored the bill to make permanent the IRA charitable rollover, commented during the markup: “charitable donations and the incentives we provide… [are] never about the person giving the contribution. We put these incentives in law for the people who benefit.”

Co-sponsor Danny Davis (D-IL-7), made clear that this bill would help to put more philanthropic dollars into communities, stating – “the rollover is another example of a smart federal investment.” He cited examples of his Chicago constituents who not only rollover their IRA distributions, but also contact his office about the future of the provision.

Congressman Erik Paulsen (R-MN-3), who sponsored the legislation to simplify the private foundation excise tax, said in his opening statement: “This will ensure that charitable giving decisions are actually based on the needs of our communities rather than the tax code.”

Representative Davis again voiced his support, saying, “when philanthropy thrives – communities thrive.”

What’s Next

These bills will now need to be voted on by the full House. It is unclear when that will be, but we will keep you updated.

Council President and CEO Vikki Spruill released the following statement after Wednesday’s markup:

The Council on Foundations applauds the Members of the House Ways and Means Committee for their commitment to supporting a strong philanthropic sector. We would like to thank them for reintroducing these measures so quickly in the new Congress, in order to provide much needed certainty to both donors and foundations. The four charitable bills passed by the Committee today will encourage charitable giving and strengthen philanthropy’s ability to serve communities across the country.

Simplifying the private foundation excise tax to a flat rate of one percent will allow private foundations to spend more resources on communities in need, rather than on tax compliance. The measure will lift an administrative burden and direct more focus to the work of the foundation rather than navigating a complicated tax provision that creates a perverse incentive to give less, not more, in times of need. We would like to thank Congressman Erik Paulsen and Congressman Danny Davis in particular for sponsoring this bill.

We are also especially pleased that the Committee voted to make the IRA charitable rollover permanent. This provision has long been a priority of the Council, and we thank Congressman Aaron Schock for his leadership on this bill. A permanent IRA charitable rollover will give individual donors certainty when planning their charitable gifts, which means more money will flow to charitable causes.

We thank the Members of the House Ways and Means Committee for moving these bills forward, and we look forward to working with the full House of Representatives to move these provisions toward becoming law as quickly as possible.

What You Can Do

You can send a simple email to your member of Congress asking them to speak out in support of this bill!