Message from Allison Magee, Executive Director

Moving forward with gratitude, reflection, and intention

Dear Friends,

As we begin to experience longer days and warmer temperatures, ZFF is moving into 2022 with renewed optimism about all this year brings.  For us, 2021 was a year of deep reflection and listening. While reviewing our grantmaking programs and strategies, we heard from many of you about the challenges you face, and how ZFF can better support the work of its partners in the region. We explored the power of expression and narrative and heard from you about the critical role they play in your work.  We also heard that the strengths and needs among individuals and communities in our region are inextricably linked and should not be considered in isolation or within arbitrary funding siloes; nor should the availability of opportunities and resources be contingent on zip code, race, or country of origin.

For more than 65 years, the Zellerbach Family Foundation has worked to be a catalyst for constructive social change by initiating and investing in work that strengthens families and communities in the Bay Area. To build on this legacy, and in response to your feedback, we’re taking a more integrated approach to our grantmaking. Our new strategic framework unifies our three program areas – Immigrants and Refugees, Improving Human Service Systems, and Community Arts – into a single Theory of Change that promotes belonging, connection, and a shared sense of safety among people and communities across the Bay Area and California with a focus on San Francisco, Alameda, and Contra Costa Counties.  A visual representation of our new framework can be found on our website.

Our efforts began by renewing the values that ground our work:

Responsibility, Integrity, and Humility– We embrace our responsibility to dedicate our resources, influence, and position to meaningfully contribute to the lives of individuals and communities who call the Bay Area home. We value and commit to honesty, trustworthiness, and acting in service to others.

Equity and Diversity– We believe in fairness, inclusion, and opportunities for everyone, especially those excluded historically and structurally from resources and decision making. We celebrate the richness of our differences and value the role of diversity in strengthening mutual appreciation, respect, and understanding across cultures and communities.

Self-Determination– We value and believe in the ability and right of everyone to have a meaningful voice in decisions that affect their lives, families, and communities.

Intentional and Continuous Learning– We value learning from and with others. We commit to being open to new ideas and adapting our work as we navigate through changing circumstances and acquire new information. 

Imagination- We value the exploration and advancement of new approaches to create effective and sustainable solutions to the needs and challenges of our communities. We embrace risk-taking, creative thinking, and innovation.  

Partnership– We value collaboration and meaningful, authentic relationships across the philanthropic, non-profit, public, and private sectors, and the communities we serve.    ​

Legacy and Perpetuity- We celebrate the work, effort, and spirit of those who came before us and acknowledge the need to support future generations in responding to the challenges they will inevitably face.

To implement our new framework, we will work with our partners to promote imagination, expression, and action towards a vibrant region ​rich with diverse expressions and experiences. These investments will support four building blocks of change:

  • Diversify art and cultural expression to expand people’s horizons;
  • Build power, particularly among those that have been excluded, historically and structurally, from resources and decision-making;
  • Transform public systems to invest in services and supports that reflect the strengths and meet the needs of the community; and
  • Ensure community members understand their shared and unique experiences, including of those who have been historically and structurally harmed, find allyship with each other, and have opportunities for individual and collective healing.

These building blocks work together to achieve our vision: A vibrant region rich with diverse expressions and experiences, where people feel safe and connected; live with a sense of belonging, shared humanity, and dignity; and have equitable opportunities to thrive.

For us, this is a continuation of an ongoing journey. The strategic framework incorporates years of learning, including research, analysis, and feedback from our grantees and partners that has grounded our planning process. We aim to be responsive to the needs of the communities we serve and to continuously learn and iterate in the face of changing circumstances. This means continuing to be in conversation, refining our framework by listening and learning, and being adaptive and responsive to the needs of the communities we serve.

This year begins the implementation of ZFF’s new vision and framework, and we are eager to work in partnership towards this shared vision.  Stay tuned as more information and details about our new strategic framework become available in the coming months.

Here is to a year of possibility, and everything that we hope to imagine and create together.

In community,

Allison Magee
Executive Director
Zellerbach Family Foundation