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,


Ways to Give Back Through LACF


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.


2017 Brunch RSVP


Santa Clara Count Supervisor addresses LACF’s LEAD

The Los Altos Town Crier published a nice article about Supervisor Joe Simitian speaking to our current LEAD class about community advocacy. Its a great talk.

Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian discussed the keys to successful advocacy at Los Altos Community Foundation’s Feb. 15 Leadership Education Advancement (LEAD) class.

“Having served as an elected official at various levels of state and local government, I’ve observed what works, and what doesn’t,” Simitian said. “Making change is difficult, but it can be done if you know how to be a successful advocate.”

Simitian illustrated his points with humorous examples based on his years of public service as a mayor, county supervisor, state assemblyman and state senator.

“Joe Simitian’s dynamic and fun presentation is a real skill-building experience in the LEAD curriculum,” said Claudia Coleman, LEAD program director.

Read the rest of this article in the Los Altos Town Crier.

LEAD runs from January to May each year. It is an ideal way to learn more about Los Altos and Los Altos Hills local government, education, local non-profits and business interests.  Participants have included those who are:

  • New to the area or lived here for years
  • Retired
  • Contemplating City Council, School Board or a Commission
  • Interested in giving back to our community

LEAD is a program of the Los Altos Community Foundation.

Joe Simitian’s 13 Tips for Successful Advocacy

1. Before speaking to a group of elected officials (such as City Council), develop a relationship with one or more of them. Even a 15-minute call ahead of time with one of them could make a big difference in the effectiveness of your request.

2. Understand what motivates the audience of elected officials (or staff) to which you are speaking. For example, do certain members care about traffic, housing, the environment, fiscal responsibility, or schools? They will be more receptive if you can frame your arguments in the ways they care about.

3. Understand what is possible and what is not. For example, a school board cannot take action on a City building. Similarly, asking for a very expensive new program might not make sense during a recession when budgets are being dramatically cut.

4. Find a “floor manager”. Before speaking before an elected body, find an elected official who believes in your proposal and can steer the discussion in a positive direction for you.

5. Tell them what you want. Mr. Simitian has sat through many presentations and meetings when at the end he is not clear what the speaker wants. He feels it is important to state right up front what you are requesting.

6. Bring solutions, not problems. Rather than just stating there is a problem (such as not enough housing), public officials like ideas for solutions, especially those with which the majority of their constituency might agree.

7. Describe the elements of a solution, rather than insisting on a specific solution. For example, if traffic on your street is bad, be open to different alternatives, rather than insisting on one particular solution (such as a speed bump).

8. Do not chastise, insult, or threaten an elected official or his/her staff. It is a sure way to slow down (or even kill) your request.

9. Understand that less can be more. For example, if many people in your neighborhood agree on an issue, it would be more effective to have two or three neighborhood representatives speak at a meeting and then ask all of those in the audience to stand up to show their support, rather than having everyone say the same thing over and over again for two hours.

10. Layer your campaign. Given that everyone gathers information in different ways, communicate your request through different channels (letters, emails, etc.) and with different presentation modes (written, verbal, graphic, etc.).

11. Persistence pays off. Reasonable, continued persistence can often work in the long run.

12. Make it easy to say yes. Requests are easier if most of the elected officials and/or constituents agree with it.

13. The value of a “thank you.” Elected officials and staff appreciate thank you notes as well as thank you letters in the newspaper. Even if your request is not approved, thank those voting against it for their consideration so they’re more likely to receive you favorably when you come back the next time.

LEAD Applications for 2017 Open


Join, LEAD, the program that cultivates community leaders in your community.

2017 LEAD Schedule:

January 21              9 – 12 Half-day Saturday Workshop (Including lunch)

All classes are on Wednesday evenings from 7 – 9 p.m.

February 1
February 15
March 1
March 15
March 29
April 5
April 19
May 3
May 17
May 31

To sign up for LEAD please call 650-949-5908 or email

Become a Los Altos LEAD er

  • New to the area or lived here for years?

  • Retired?

  • Civic staff?

  • Contemplating running for City Council or School Board, or serving on a Commission?

Then Los Altos LEAD is perfect for you! Enrollment is open to all. Since 1996, more than 220 people have completed the eight-session course.

Subjects presented:

  • local government
  • education
  • social services and health
  • arts
  • community service organizations.

Volunteer opportunities are always highlighted, and one session is devoted to team building and leadership training.


CEO’s, Executive Directors, community & school district leaders will present their organizations over a five month period. They will discuss how they are an integral part of the community as well as participate in candid conversations on the challenges and obstacles upon which they are focused.

The program kicks off with a three hour Saturday morning workshop where class attendees meet each other, expectations are discussed and a dynamic leadership discussion is facilitated. It is followed by nine sessions meeting Wednesday evenings from 7-9pm twice a month.

I strongly recommend the LEAD class for anyone looking to learn more and potentially get involved with our wonderful community. Each session offered a fascinating look at the inner workings of some part of our community. I have never been exposed to so many dedicated people. It was a stimulating and eye-opening experience.

John Radford, Councilmember, Town of Los Altos Hills, and 2011 LEAD graduate.

LEAD 2015 will start in January and will be coordinated by LACF Board Co-chair Claudia Coleman.

Contact LACF for registration details: or call: (650) 949-5908

Sessions are held at LACF, 183 Hillview Avenue, in the Neutra House, except for four sessions held at offsite locations tbd.

The LEAD Program (Leadership Education ADvancement Program) was developed by the Los Altos Community Foundation as a vehicle to introduce participants to the multiple private and public organizations in Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View that make our cites and surrounding areas a community.

A letter from a LEADer

Dear Friends,

Wanted to let you know of a fabulous opportunity that is not only a great educational opportunity but a lot of fun, too!

leadatlibrarysliderThe upcoming LEAD Program has a few (but only a few) slots left in the Program. This program, which is run by Claudia Coleman of Los Altos Community Foundation (LACF), helps locals discover and engage with their local community by learning, up close and personal, about all the wonderful resources that are available to us in our uniquely special Los Altos through presentations, workshops and discussion. It was a program that I attended and thoroughly enjoyed. It was professional and informative, in addition to being well executed and I was very impressed. You might think that if you’ve lived here for any considerable amount of time, you know all there is to know. I’m here to tell you there is lots to learn! In fact I would say it was definitely the impetus behind getting more involved in my treasured downtown Los Altos. And as many of you are moving into the “next phase” of your life, now that the kids are gone, you might be looking for some special way to give back to our community, and this would be a perfect entree to open your eyes to all that is out there.

The program starts off with a workshop on Saturday, January 25 from 9 – 12:00 and includes lunch. The remaining classes are on Wednesday evenings from 7 – 9:00 and the dates include: February 5 & 26, March 5 & 19, April 2 & 16, May 7 & 21 and culminates on June 4. If you are interested, please check out the LEAD page for application details.

And please feel free to pass this along to any interested Los Altos or Los Altos Hills friends that you think might be interested.

Robin Katsaros

Los Altos Resident and Founder of Sit & Share