William J. Zellerbach
While family foundations alone can’t solve
the pervasive problems in our community,
we must do what we can and encourage
others to join us.

Honoring our Roots

Established in 2019, the William J. Zellerbach Award for Social Change (WJZ Award) honors the legacy of William J. Zellerbach, who served as the foundation’s Board Chair from 1960 until his death in 2017. Throughout his life, Bill held a deep commitment to the diversity and vitality of San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area and he also understood the value of partnership, especially cross-sector collaborations that focused on creative solutions to achieve social change.

The WJZ Award recognizes Bay Area organizations that are developing visionary approaches to advance social justice and address the pressing needs faced by communities throughout the Bay Area. Whether a pilot project or a new organization, the award seeks to recognize innovative efforts that have the potential for sustainable and replicable systems change in our region and beyond.

2020 WJZ Award Application

Application period closed

The WJZ Award Timeline

  • February 3: Applications open
  • April 17 (extended from March 31):   Applications close at 5pm
  • April – June: Zellerbach Family Foundation staff review applications and identify 5-10 finalists
  • July: Finalists and non-advancing applicants are notified
  • July – August: A selection committee comprised of ZFF board members, community leaders, and subject matter experts from the field review the finalists and recommend a winner
  • September: ZFF Board of Directors approve and announce the winner


The 2020 WJZ Award will recognize Bay Area organizations that are using arts and/or culture as a key strategy in their broader efforts to advance social change. This may include, but is not limited to, raising consciousness; preserving or reclaiming traditional cultural practices; being a tool or strategy for organizing and movement building; challenging racism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, ageism, ableism or other oppressions; and shifting the perception of power/privilege and the dynamics associated with justice, equity and/or accountability.

To be eligible, nominees also need to be 501c3 public charities or fiscally sponsored organizations located in and serving San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, Marin, Sonoma, and/or Napa county.

2019 Inaugural Awardee

Bayview-Hunters Point Center for Arts and Technology (BAYCAT) inaugural recipient of the William J. Zellerbach Award for Social Change