Happy 2020: A Year of Innovation and Impact

Dear Friends:

Happy new year! Here at ZFF, January might be our favorite time of year. Slow to start after months of commotion and bustle, January gives us time to renew and refresh. This is also a month of optimism when it feels like just about anything can happen, and 2020 promises to be a big year.

Looking ahead, many of us are bracing ourselves for a year dominated by politics and other events on a national or even global scale. The U.S. presidential election and the 2020 Census are just a couple examples of the many challenges we face that sometimes feel insurmountable. As we think about these challenges, we are reminded of the term “shrinking the change.” Coined from the 2010 bestselling book Switch by Chip and Dan Heath, the expression urges us to think differently about how we look to solve what feel like unsolvable problems. By shrinking the change, we can identify and focus on smaller, incremental solutions that can be scaled up to solve even the biggest challenges over time.

As a place-based funder, the idea of shrinking the change couldn’t be more relevant. Focusing on local, innovative ideas and solutions, ZFF seeks to advance constructive social change in the Bay Area and beyond, and we’ve seen the results. ZFF is proud to support such programs as the East Bay Family Defenders (EBFD), 1951 Coffee, and the Bridge Project, which use innovative models to support their clients, strengthen human service systems, and change perceptions.

As part of the foundation’s commitment to supporting local innovative models, last year ZFF introduced the William J. Zellerbach Award for Social Change. Focusing on equity and social justice, the WJZ Award was developed to honor the foundation’s long-time board chair who sought to invest in the creative reform happening throughout San Francisco and the Bay Area. The first winner of the award was the Bayview Hunters Point Center for Arts and Technology (BAYCAT). BAYCAT is a nonprofit social enterprise that educates, empowers, and employs young people from historically underserved San Francisco communities in digital media arts including video and music production, animation, and graphic and web design. Fundamental to its mission is diversifying the creative media industry to better reflect and represent people of color, changing the stories that are told and who gets to tell them. ZFF is proud to honor BAYCAT with this award. Their innovative approach to changing an entire industry one story at a time exemplifies the concept of shrinking the change.

ZFF is pleased to announce that applications for the 2020 WJZ Award for Social Change will open on February 1st. This year’s award will recognize Bay Area organizations that are using arts and culture as a key strategy in their broader efforts to advance social change. More about the award can be found on our website.

We’re proud to partner with the many innovative leaders and organizations throughout the Bay Area. Together, we will continue to identify creative, scalable solutions to respond to some of the biggest challenges facing our communities. 2020 will be a big year, and here at ZFF, we’re ready for change.

Allison L. Magee
Executive Director

Thomas H. Zellerbach
Board Chair