AAPIP Voices

Bridging Communities


By James Head, Vice President of Programs, The San Francisco Foundation

One of the best things about the work of a community foundation is our ability to be responsive to the needs of our community – to pull together partners, organizations, and leaders to address the issues of our time as they happen.

In the post-9/11 world, we recognized a need to do just that.

After the attacks, there was a deepened conversation at the Foundation and among other funders in the region about the vulnerability of the Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian communities, and the perceptions and backlash they faced.

We know that what people and families want – across demographic, ethnic, or religious lines – is not that different. People want equal opportunity, an environment free of judgment, and the ability to share cross-culturally with other communities. This is not different in the African American, or Latino, or Asian communities.

The Civic Engagement Fund is a bridge to bring these issues to life. Developing the Civic Engagement Fund was a way to reach out to a community, which as a group of funders, we unfortunately didn’t know very well. It has created an opportunity to raise their visibility, and to support organizations that build resiliency, especially a community that was underserved and under recognized in philanthropy.

The San Francisco Foundation was a founding partner of the funder collaborative and provided funding for the first staff person in 2006. We maintain a consistent commitment to the Civic Engagement Fund because we recognize the power of this work in communities.

Leadership development and building the capacity of these community organizations were major underpinnings of the work. We focused on capacity building to open doors to diversify funding. We lifted up leaders, specifically women leaders, in the community.

I encourage you to watch and share this video, which is a great example of the power of communities working together. We can continue to work together, to talk to one another, to understand that we all want similar things, and build toward a common and collective good.

James Head, Vice President of Programs at the San Francisco Foundation, is a longtime supporter and consistent ally of AAPIP. We are pleased to share his insights here, as one of “Our Stories” from members of the AAPIP network, as well as on the San Francisco Foundation’s Faith Programs site, as we release this video about our shared work: Post 9/11: The Impact of a Funder Collaborative.