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.”

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.


2021 WJZ Award Information

Our 2021 application period has closed

The Zellerbach Family Foundation invites Bay Area organizations to apply for the third annual William J. Zellerbach Award for Social Change (WJZ Award). The WJZ Award was established to honor the legacy of William J. Zellerbach, who served as the foundation’s Board Chair from 1960 until his death in 2017.

The theme for the 2021 award is youth organizing. Youth organizing cultivates the strengths and leadership of young people to transform the conditions and systems that impact them most. This year one $50,000 prize will be awarded to a 501(c)3 or fiscally sponsored organization that organizes young people most impacted by racial, economic, and social injustice to build power and lead grassroots campaigns in the Bay Area.


Applicants/nominees will be reviewed based on the following criteria:

  • Youth Organizing: The Awardee effectively uses youth organizing in their efforts to advance social change.
    This could include:
  • Training youth to lead efforts in sustainable systems change in their communities
  • Providing structure and support so youth can develop, learn, and heal
  • Creating leadership pathways for youth (e.g., placing youth in spaces of governance through internships, staff positions, boards and commissions, etc)
  • Developing campaigns by and for youth
  • Developing strategic communications plans
  • Building and engaging broad based coalitions and alliances to advance their work
  • Equity: The awardee is focused on fairness, inclusion, and opportunities for communities excluded historically and structurally from resources and decision-making
  • Representation: The program or work of the organization is informed by the communities it serves
  • Collaboration: The awardee have demonstrated a commitment to work effectively with other organizations, leaders, and/or sectors


  • 501(c)(3)s and fiscally-sponsored organizations located and working in at least one of the nine Bay Area counties (San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, Marin, Sonoma, Napa).
  • Organizations with annual operating budgets of $2 million or less.
  • Previous WJZ Award winners are not eligible.
  • Organizations may apply again in subsequent years, but may only win the WJZ Award once.
  • Organizations should only submit one application for this award each year.
  • Organizations whose leadership or staff are affiliated with the Zellerbach Family Foundation are not eligible.


  • The application period opens on Thursday, April 8 and closes at 11:59 p.m. Monday, May 10
  • The submitted applications will be reviewed by a ZFF staff committee, who will advance 5-10 finalists to the selection committee, comprising ZFF board members, community leaders, and subject matter experts from the field.
  • Finalists will be announced in August. The winner will be announced in October.
  • One winner will be selected. The winner will be awarded a $50,000 general support grant.


For questions, please email wjzaward@zff.org.


2020 Awardee

Hip Hop for Change, Inc. (HH4C) 2020 recipient of the William J. Zellerbach Award for Social Change

Miss the Harnessing the Power of Hip Hop for Change event?  Click here for the video

2019 Inaugural Awardee

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