Sat, 30 Sep 2017 18:32:00
Portrait of Henry Mayo Newhall via www.newhallfoundation.org.
When looking for a link between California’s pioneer past and today, one can still find points of impact. The Henry Mayo Newhall Foundation supports programs that focus on the youth, families, and seniors.
According to its website, the Foundation’s endowment comes from Newhall family members and “supports philanthropic activities in the communities where H.M. Newhall lived or had business interests.”
Henry Mayo —H.M — Newhall was an American businessman who came out to California inspired by the gold rush of the 1850s. He quickly gained success through his auction house. Later, he invested in railroads connecting San Francisco to other growing towns throughout California. Along the way, Henry Mayo Newhall became a benefactor for many social and educational institutions.
The foundation was started in 1963 and is managed by a board of 13 family members. Twice each year, the board meets to review and process grant applications and conduct onsite visits for prospective recipients. The goal behind the Henry Mayo Newhall Foundation is to improve the quality of life in all the communities associated with the foundation’s namesake. These areas consist of San Francisco, the Santa Clarita Valley in Los Angeles County, and the Santa Maria Valley of Central California.
The H.M. Newhall Foundation provides impactful grant allocations to many social service and nonprofit organizations in San Francisco alone. In 2016, the Foundation allocated over $800,000 to a variety of causes.
How does the Foundation choose recipients?
The Foundation prefers to award matching or challenge grants that leverage its support with funding from other donors.
According to Tony Newhall, a member of the Board of Trustees, the Foundation is “required to donate 5% of our assets” each year. The Board of Trustees meets bi-annually to review previous grants and award them from the $40 million endowment for the coming year. The meetings, in November and March, allow for distant family members to convene and plan future site visits — $2 million. The giving philosophy of the family of H.M. Newhall is to help causes large and small in the areas of California where he conducted business. This ranges from big hospitals and colleges, as well as to a used car that an organization might need to get around. Tony Newhall noted in a phone interview that the Foundation does not like to give continuous funding but “rather focus on getting organizations running off the ground and self-sustained.”
The Newhall Foundation prefers to provide matching grants and challenge grants. This stems from the belief that money donated is not the only important factor. Instead, it is valuable to press for concerted action.
There are three organizations of note that are benefiting from a Newhall Foundation donation in San Francisco: the Meritus College Fund, the 3rd Street Youth Center & Clinic, and the Bay Area Women’s & Children’s Center.
Meritus empowers low-income Bay Area youths who possess grit and ambition to succeed in college and prepare for opportunities post-graduation by providing scholarships, individualized coaching and career mentoring and development.
Diana Wolf, who was the executive director of Meritus at the time of the interview, discussed how the funding from the Newhall Foundation helps the Meritus College Fund. She said, “The Henry Mayo Newhall Foundation most recently awarded us a matching grant to fund our Connections Program, through which we provide college students from low-income communities around the Bay Area with individualized college success advising and critical career development resources. By supporting the Connections Program, the Newhall Foundation allows Meritus to provide much more than just a scholarship check.”
Meritus believes that higher education is a critical step in addressing income disparity for motivated and talented youth. Socio-economic circumstance should not limit them from fully engaging in this transformative opportunity.
According to Wolf, “More than 30 of our 240 current Scholars hail from the Bayview or the Fillmore, as do many of our alumni. Meritus Scholars are selected based on academic achievement, demonstrated financial need, and resilience in the face of adversity. They earn high school GPAs between 3.0 and 3.7, and 7 in 10 come from families making less than $40,000 per year.”
The money allows for programs like the Meritus Fund to do what they do best: Give people opportunity. To this end, 88% of Meritus Scholars graduate from college.
The 3rd Street Youth Center & Clinic also received a grant from the Newhall Foundation for the 2016 year. The grant money went to the Health Corps program to help Bayview Hunters Point youth to “become educated in health topics, learn about different careers in the field, get help applying to programs, and earn credits,” according to the website at http://3rdstyouth.org/.
Jesse Osorio took time out of his day at the 3rd Street Youth Center to talk about the importance of the Health Corps program.
“Health Corps is proving really beneficial. It helps fine-tune student’s needs, whether they want to be a nurse, therapist, or community health worker. We can match them with different hospitals and schools.”
Osorio went on to talk about the cycle of students and the importance of sustaining the program. “A large chunk of the budget goes to the students, primarily people of color. We are on our fourth cycle of students and are seeing former students come back and help.”
The Newhall Foundation’s hope of kick-starting programs that then stand alone appears to be working with the Health Corps program at the 3rd Street Youth Center & Clinic.
The Bay Area Women’s & Children’s Center (BAWCC) is an invaluable asset to the Tenderloin neighborhood. According to its website, the center focuses entirely on the needs and issues of low-income families, children, and women in this multiethnic, inner city neighborhood.
The Newhall Foundation’s grant for the BAWCC provided funding the Technology Initiative at the Tenderloin Community School. The matching grant “established and staffs the Technology Program at Tenderloin Community School for all 400 students. They learn computer, iPad and research skills, and create multimedia projects.”
The board members meet twice a year to figure out the best way their endowment may have an impact. They support numerous philanthropic activities throughout California, and in high-need areas of the increasingly expensive San Francisco Bay Area.
The foundation and organizations listed in this article are a small example of what happens when two groups come together for a cause greater than themselves.