Los Altos Community Foundation Awards $84,500 in Grants to Local Nonprofits

Los Altos Community Foundation recently awarded $84,500 in its spring 2018 grants cycle to 18 local nonprofits and programs. These organizations address the needs and improve the quality of life for seniors, youth, and vulnerable populations in Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View.

The grants support nonprofit programs such as Community Health Awareness Council’s (CHAC), development of increased cultural and racial literacy by its Clinical Supervisors and interns, Parents Helping Parents’ outreach and support services to families with special needs children. And Peninsula Symphony’s popular summer pops concert in downtown Los Altos.

“LACF’s community grants help local nonprofits more effectively address community needs,” said Joe Eyre, Executive Director. “We’re proud of how these grants enable the development of new programs for greater local impact.”

LACF’s Spring nonprofit grant recipients also include:

  • Adolescent Counseling Services to support its Outlet Program serving local lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth.
  • Family Engagement Institute to fund youth field work and intern opportunities in the FEI Child Development Academy and Stretch to Kindergarten programs.
  • Festival of Lights Parade Association for annual operating expenses associated with the Los Altos Festival of Lights Parade.
  • Grassroots Ecology to support local programs integrating nature education with hands-on actions to improve the ecosystem.
  • GreenTown Los Altos to support their Safe Routes to Schools program.
  • Hope’s Corner, Inc. for access and referrals to critical services that improve the lives of the homeless and vulnerable in our community.
  • Los Altos History Museum to support the upcoming bilingual, youth-produced exhibit, “Inspired by Juana: La Donna de la Frontera.”
  • Los Altos Stage Company for expanded Mainstage productions and youth and family education programs in 2018.
  • Los Altos Village Association for purchasing cost-effective, energy-saving LED lights in the trees lining Main and State Streets and parking plazas.
  • Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence for comprehensive services addressing the needs of 75 domestic violence survivors from local communities.
  • Peninsula Bridge to support the Peninsula Bridge Mountain View Middle School Academy that closes the achievement gap for hundreds of underserved, yet high-achieving students each year.
  • Senior Inclusion and Participation Project (SIPP) for raising awareness of the senior loneliness and isolation epidemic and to reduce its impact on elders in our local community.


Stretch to Kindergarten participants enjoy a recent lesson.
Stretch to Kindergarten participants enjoy a recent lesson.

“Many thanks to LACF for its generous support of the Family Engagement Institute’s Development Academy and Stretch to Kindergarten programs,” Betsy Nikolchev, Executive Director, FEI said. “The Institute is a hallmark, award-winning equity program for Foothill College, and LACF’s support will provide opportunities for our local youth to gain experience and contribute to their community.”

For more information on LACF’s grant-making programs and processes, please visit:

LACF Grant Making 



LACF Impact 2017

Thank you for your support of the Los Altos Community Foundation!  We’re excited to share some of the outcomes that your contribution to LACF has enabled over the past year:


Addressing Youth, Seniors, and Families in Need

Through its funds and programs, LACF gave $1.39 million in grants and scholarships to organizations serving Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View; a 55% increase over the previous year. These grants helped youth succeed in school, provided seniors with the care they need and enabled the homeless to feed themselves and their children.

LACF gave grants to new nonprofits, so they could launch their programs and quickly address needs in the community.  Grantees include Bay Area Furniture Bank, that gives furniture to those struggling to pay rent and EqOpTech Inc., that refurbishes computers for those who can’t afford them.

impacting the lives of students

LACF’s programs addressed numerous local needs, including:

  • MVLA Scholars gave over $400k in scholarships to 108 students, many of whom are first in their family to go to college.
  • CAFE (Center for Age Friendly Excellence), for its Los Altos Senior Inclusion and Participation Project, which identifies isolated seniors who are at risk and need services.
  • House2Home Connection, a new incubated LACF program that provides low-income families with donated household necessities for a comfortable and happy home.
  • Listos Mountain View, also a new incubated LACF program that helps immigrant families prepare for the possibility of family members being deported.
  • LACF again facilitated its common scholarship application process for local service clubs and the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce.  This group gave $131k to 72 local students.  The online common scholarship application also saved students and administrators time by submitting a single application to multiple organizations.

Improving Quality of Life in Our Community

Club 55 and Up, a fun, monthly event for adults 55 and over, attracted over 100 residents each time. Los Altos Forward, LACF’s program dedicated to promoting downtown vibrancy, created Club 55 and Up to provide local casual gatherings for older adults.

LACF’s Block Action Team (BAT) program grew to almost 200 trained BAT Leaders who help build neighbor-to-neighbor relationships and promote emergency preparedness in Los Altos.  Because of this program, the City of Los Altos recently took the lead disaster readiness by coordinating with BAT leaders as well as with county fire, HAM radio operators, and CERT (Community Emergency Response Teams).

LACF and the Los Altos School District set up an online bulletin board for community members to offer reasonably-priced housing to teachers.  As a result, five newly-hired teachers will be able to live in our community.

LACF’s Los Altos Dispute Resolution Services trained community members on conflict resolution and mediation to help resolve community issues.

Local arts and culture enhance life in our community.  LACF continuously supports local nonprofit stalwarts such as the Los Altos History Museum, CSMA, and Los Altos Stage Company.

Because of LACF’s ongoing support of the Peninsula Symphony, the community enjoys free classical music in the park every summer.

And, the Terrible Adult Chamber Orchestra (TACO) enables over 50 local musicians to regularly play together in a fun, stress-free environment.

Soil and Water, a new LACF-incubated program, teaches Mountain View apartment residents and their children how to grow vegetables in the community garden in Heritage Park. Through this process, they learn how to prepare and add more vegetables to their diet.

2016 LEAD

Transforming Community Members into Community Leaders

LACF’s LEAD class led by Claudia Coleman has graduated over 400 residents over the last 22 years, many of whom have run for and/or been on the City Council, school board, commissions, nonprofit boards, or become nonprofit leaders.

In addition, the Los Altos Town Crier recognized Claudia as “2017 Los Altan of the Year” partially for her commitment to the program.

Philanthropy never moves as fast as it does in LACF’s E3 Youth Philanthropy program. Throughout the year the 25 highly-motivated students learn empathy, values, nonprofit success factors, and grantmaking, all skills that will make them better leaders of tomorrow.

Owners of LACF Donor Advised Funds (DAFs) generously gave $730K of grants to nonprofits over the last year.  Some creatively funded new programs and causes while others granted money to their children and grandchildren so they could discover and nurture their own philanthropic passions.

Over 300 community members volunteered through LACF’s committees and programs to help make our community a better place.

To establish new community connections and educate residents about the Foundation, LACF hosted its annual Summer Solstice garden party welcoming over 300 community members – our most well-attended Solstice to date.

Inspire MV Check

Fostering Innovative New Philanthropy

Through LACF’s leadership, Google, LinkedIn, Symantec, and Synopsys joined the Inspire Mountain View initiative. The group awarded $525k in grants to make its hometown community more equitable, compassionate, and a better place to work and play.

The nine nonprofit grant winners are now helping parents struggling to feed their children, connecting seniors with their families through technology, and helping students learn about ecology, STEM, and becoming mindful leaders.

LACF sponsors 12 social-venture projects.  Through LACF, community members can start new nonprofits to address local needs without dealing with the burden of running an 501(c)(3).

Two years ago, LACF awarded a grant to MVLA Challenge Team’s Summer Learning Initiative to provide academic support programs for local at-risk students. Summer 2017 brought full program enrollment and combined morning classes with afternoon activity camps, resulting in positive academic and personal enrichment.

To further LACF’s donor-education initiatives, LACF invited Justin Steele, responsible for Google’s $50M+ U.S. philanthropy strategy, to provide insights into its innovative corporate philanthropy programs at our 25th annual LACF Brunch.

Building Resources for Our Community’s Future

Longtime community member Marguerite Szekely bequeathed LACF a $1.85 million planned gift, which LACF placed in our Community Endowment for future generations. Ms. Szekely’s gift is inspiring others in the community to include LACF in their estate plans, including the 36 generous and visionary families who are LACF Legacy Circle members honored at LACF’s annual May luncheon.

Because of you, our community is stronger, more caring, generous and engaged. Together, we’re developing the solid relationships, values, and practices that represent our world-class community.

Thanks again for your generous support. And as always, we’re continually looking to increase our impact, so feel free to email or contact me with any ideas you may have.

And as always, we’re continually looking to increase our impact, so feel free to email or contact me with any ideas you may have.

All the best,



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P.S.  Please mark your calendar for LACF’s annual brunch on Sunday, October 15th.  Our speaker is the lively and insightful Carl Guardino, CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.


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LACF Awards Grants to 12 Local Nonprofits

LACF’s Community Grants volunteer committee evaluated many applications for projects benefiting Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, and Mountain View.  After deliberation, they awarded twelve grants totaling $57,500.

FY18 First Session Grants

Organization Purpose of Grant Grant Amount
Assistance League of Los Altos This grant will allow us to improve the safety of our grounds and upgrade our building exterior, completing projects that have been deferred for many years, the cost of which is more than our current budget allows since most of our income goes to philanthropic programs. $5,000
Day Worker Center of Mountain View Connects employers from the Los Altos and Los Altos Hills area with skilled workers in a safe and supportive environment, as well as offering relevant classes and training for the workers to improve their skills. $5,000
Friends of Deer Hollow Farm This grant will support operations at Deer Hollow Farm, including our Animal Fund which provides for the care, feeding, and health of our signature farm animals and our Capital Improvements program which enhances and improves our physical facilities. $5,000
Healthier Kids Foundation (HFK)  HKF’s hearing screens local children in pre-school, public school, and private schools, case manages 12% of children who receive a hearing referral and helps their parents find specialized care they need. HKF will screen 250 children with this grant. $5,000
House2Home Connection  This grant will allow us to start accepting donations and distributing household items to community members in need. $5,000
Living Classroom  This grant will support the professionalization of our docent program by creating a professional training program that will incorporate relevant classes, docent coaching/mentoring and fingerprinting/background checks. $5,000
Los Altos History Museum  Support of the special temporary exhibition, “I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story,” and related programming, to be displayed at the Los Altos History Museum October 14th to January 7th. $5,000
Mentor Tutor Connection  The grant funds support general program costs for our Tutoring and Mentoring programs like program staffing, volunteer training, and youth support. $5,000
Morning Forum of Los Altos, Inc.  The grant will help to continue our goal of strengthening our membership by providing the highest quality speakers who provide topics and experiences of cultural, scientific, national and international interest. $5,000
WomenSV   To continue providing support, professional training, and public education related to domestic violence in our community. $5,000
YMCA of Silicon Valley/Project Cornerstone  Project Cornerstone is seeking funding to support our school partnerships in the Los Altos community which are creating caring school communities and positively impacting student’s social-emotional development. $5,000
YMCA of Silicon Valley-El Camino Branch  To support year-round operation of the Safety Around Water (SAW) program providing free swim safety lessons (in 4 week sessions) to children (5-17 yrs old) residing MV/LA community who are statistically the most at-risk for drowning (primarily socioeconomically disadvantaged and Latino youth.) $2,500



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LACF and Bay Area Furniture Bank help bring peace of mind


Victoria had been bouncing from home to home since she aged out of the foster system. Like many in the Bay Area, she was struggling to just make rent. Furniture was a dream. She huddled on the floor to eat dinner after work.

In stepped Bay Area Furniture Bank.

Founded by retired Los Altos resident Ray Piontek in 2015, BAFB brings donated furniture to Victoria and to others in our communities who need assistance: veterans, refugees, low-income families, and victims of domestic abuse.

“Finally, I now have peace of mind with my living situation,” Victoria said.

Victoria is not alone. Over 150,000 families in the Silicon Valley make less than $35,000 a year. They scrape by. There’s simply no money left for furnishings. Many lack the basic dignity of a bed to sleep on or a table to eat.

Piontek said providing unwanted furniture to people in need is the core concept of BAFB.

“I couldn’t stand to see decent furniture going into landfills, when so many folks were lacking,” he said.

Initially Piontek gathered the furniture himself – from family, friends, and even off the street – storing it in his garage and delivering it. But when his networking efforts to secure furniture donations from businesses started paying off, BAFB quickly outgrew his garage.

BAFB’s largest donation to date is from the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose, which is now undergoing an eleven-floor renovation. When Piontek heard BAFB would receive 4,400 pieces of furniture from the Fairmont, he scrambled to find storage space. Thanks to Foothill College, BAFB now houses collected furniture in a several portables on campus.

To identify eligible recipients and their furniture needs, BAFB works with existing nonprofits and social service agencies.

Through BAFB, Piontek believes he has found the perfect way to give back to the community, enjoy retirement and feel good at the end of every day.

“Who’s getting more joy from this, the families who receive the furniture or me?” he said. “I’m not sure.”

Thanks to Piontek’s great work and your support of BAFB through LACF, more struggling families, veterans, and former foster children like Victoria have more than just a roof over their heads – they have a furnished home.


Community Grants helps challenged student “feel happy, calm and gentle” through Animal Assisted Happiness

oct 2015 Harry and Vanilla BeanHarry Henry is a student at MVHS. He is nonverbal but loves our monthly visits. He particularly loves Vanilla

Bean, Animal Assisted Happiness’ white bantam couchon chicken. Harry wrote a poem for us.


Vanilla Bean (the chicken) helps me feel happy.

Vanilla Bean helps me feel calm and gentle.

Vanilla Bean helps me feel careful and in control.

I see how happy the other animals make my classmates feel, too.

I’m glad Animal Assisted Happiness comes to my school.



The Community Grants program is happy to be helping people like Harry through grants to Animal Assisted Happiness and other organizations.

Heart to Heart Teens do great things with their LACF Community Grant.

This really brings home how powerful the Community Grants program can be.

Dear Joe,

We thank you so much for the opportunity to provide “Parent Projects” classes and programs in our local community through the  Heart2Heart Teens a Community Grant of $1,500 LACF provided.
We had an amazing turn-out and wonderful completion.  Parents and families were positively impacted through three classes offered in our community this last semester.
Here is a picture of just some of the families in Mountain View.
In addition, just recently, the 49ers recognized us with their Unity Award for “Keeping Families United” through this program.
Again, thank you for helping us make this program successful.
Heart2Heart is interested in submitting a proposal for this grant if offered again.
Can you please point us in the right direction for this?
Thank you again ans we are grateful.
Best Regards,
Aimee M. Lopez

LACF gave 114 grants and 123 scholarships in the second half of 2015

One of LACF’s important activities is to address the needs of our communities through grantmaking. Grants enable nonprofits to start new projects, build capacity, and meet daily operational needs.

LACF’s grants and scholarships come from three primary sources: our Donor Advised and Donor Designated Funds, our Community Grants Program, and our Scholarship Funds.  Our grants helped strengthen local nonprofits and our college scholarships enabled local students to enrich their lives and community through education.

If you would like to open a Donor Advised Fund and begin grantmaking, please see https://losaltoscf.org/ donoradvisedfunds or contact us.

LACF’s Donor Advised and Donor Designated Funds gave grants to these local organizations:

  • Bullis Charter School
  • Community Health Awareness Council (CHAC)
  • Challenge Team
  • City of Mountain View
  • Community Services Agency (CSA)
  • Day Worker Center of Mountain View
  • Foothill-DeAnza Foundation
  • Hidden Villa
  • LACF’s Sustaining Fund
  • Los Altos Educational Foundation
  • Los Altos High School
  • Los Altos History Museum
  • Los Altos School District
  • Los Altos Stage Company
  • Los Altos Town Crier Holiday Fund
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium
  • Mountain View High School
  • Pinewood School
  • Positive Coaching Alliance
  • Saint Francis High School
  • Sempervirens Fund

LACF’s Donor Advised funds also gave many grants to other nonprofits in the Bay Area and in other parts of the country.

LACF’s Community Grants Program gave grants to the following nonprofits that serve our community:

  • Acterra
  • ALearn
  • Animal Assisted Happiness
  • Avenidas
  • Center for Age-Friendly Excellence (CAFÉ)
  • Community Health Awareness Council (CHAC)
  • Community Services Agency (CSA)
  • Day Worker Center of Mountain View
  • E3 Youth in Philanthropy
  • Friends of Deer Hollow Farm
  • Hidden Villa
  • JustREAD
  • Los Altos Festival of Lights Parade
  • Los Altos Forward
  • Los Altos History Museum
  • Los Altos Village Association Fund
  • Mentor-Tutor Connection
  • Mountain View Police Activities League
  • Mountain View-Whisman School District
  • MVLA High School District
  • Navigators Chapter 41
  • Peninsula Bridge
  • Peninsula Symphony
  • Peninsula Youth Theater (PYT)
  • Terrible Adult Chamber Orchestra (TACO)
  • Westwind 4-H Riding for the Handicapped
  • Ye Olde Towne Band

Community Grant Recipient Profile: Stretch To Kindergarten

Gabriel was in a shell of fear and shyness as he approached kindergarten according to his mother.

“After just six weeks my son Gabriel feels more confident and now is comfortable raising his hand to ask and answer questions in front of the class”, said Gabriel’s mother Cynthia.  “He is coming out of his shell of shyness.”

Gabriel is in a class this summer with a number of other children starting kindergarten in the Los Altos School District this fall.

Stretch To Kindergarten (STK) is a program of the Family Engagement Institute, a recent LACF Community Grant recipient.

STK offers a tuition-free, parent-participation, spring and summer kindergarten readiness program for socioeconomically disadvantaged children.

STK works to cultivate enduring partnerships among families, schools and the community to give children, most of whom have not attended preschool, the skills to help them successfully transition into kindergarten.

STK works with children in small groups to develop their English language, social, reading and math skills.   They also learn independence and to advocate for themselves, something kids without preschool experience may not yet have had the opportunity to learn.

And it’s not just the kids who learn.

Parents volunteer in the classroom and attend parent/child workshops which provide information on transitioning to kindergarten, family literacy, parenting, children’s academic and social development, nutrition and physical health, emotional well-being, volunteering in the schools and community resources.

STK Director Carmen Ponce said she is dedicated to creating a nurturing community to engage the whole family in making this important transition to school.

“It really lays a solid foundation for the students’ long-term success if the parents are involved with their children’s school and are connected to teachers, administrators, and other parents so they can reach out for support.”

Stretch to Kindergarten, founded in 2009 by Elizabeth Simons, a former teacher of Spanish bilingual elementary school classes and now president of the Heising-Simons Foundation, is now a cornerstone of the Family Engagement Institute at Foothill College.

STK serves families of children registered for kindergarten in nine local school districts, including Mountain View Whisman and Sunnyvale, in addition to the Los Altos School District.

Los Altos Community Foundation is proud to support the work of the Family Engagement Institute and Stretch to Kindergarten.

Next LACF community grants cycle starts soon

Los Altos Community Foundation is about ready to begin its next Community Grants cycle.
If you are interested in applying for a grant, please submit an application by June 23rd.
The application and guidelines is located at:  https://losaltoscf.org/what-we-do-2/community-grants/community-grants/
Although not mandatory, grant priority is given to non-profits that:
  • Provide at least some service to Los Altos or Los Altos Hills
  • Have not received a grant from LACF in the last year
The average grant size is about $5,000.