From its inception, the Zellerbach Family Foundation has focused on the San Francisco Bay Area where the Zellerbach family has deep roots. Since 1868 when Anthony Zellerbach began selling paper from his horse drawn wagon in San Francisco, the Zellerbach family has been active in the economic, religious, artistic and philanthropic life of the community.
Originally named the Zellerbach Family Fund, the Zellerbach Family Foundation was established in 1956 by Mrs. Jennie B. Zellerbach with a contribution of $54,600. Mrs. Zellerbach continued to make regular contributions to the Foundation until her death in 1965. In its first year of operation, Foundation grants amounted to $8,210. Over the ensuing years, the Foundation has distributed over $113 million in charitable support.
In 1968 the Zellerbach Family Foundation made a pivotal decision when it shifted away from the pattern of a family foundation and toward the work of a more general purpose, private foundation. The Board of Directors was expanded to include members from outside the family who share a commitment to the vision and goals of the Foundation. At that time, the Foundation also made a strategic decision to focus programmatically and geographically on identifiable community problems in the San Francisco Bay Area rather than the individual interests of the board.
Today, through the sustained commitment of the members of the board and the hard work and dedication of the staff, the Zellerbach Family Foundation continues to strive in its mission to be a catalyst for constructive social change and invest in efforts that strengthen families and communities.