“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

Announcing the 2022
WJZ Award for Social Change

We are thrilled to announce the finalists for this year's William J. Zellerbach Award for Social Change.  These five organizations exemplify the incredible work to advance bridging and belonging in the Bay Area.

The five finalists are:

Asian Prisoner Support Committee
The mission of the Asian Prisoner Support Committee (APSC) is to provide direct support to Asian and Pacific Islander (API) prisoners and to raise awareness about the growing number of APIs being imprisoned, detained, and deported.

Faith In Action East Bay
Founded in 1972, Faith In Action East Bay is a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-faith federation of over 25 congregations, schools, and allied community organizations, representing over 25,000 families in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.  Their mission is to develop leaders who build power through their congregations and schools to drive systemic change and improve the quality of life for their families.

Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project- QWOCMAP
Established in 2000, Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project (QWOCMAP) uses film to shatter stereotypes and bias, reveal the lived truths of inequality, and create safety, welcome, and belonging through art and activism.

School Time Music LLC (Alphabet Rockers)
Founded in 2007, Alphabet Rockers is a Grammy-nominated musical group that creates music for children and families that is healing, reflective of who they are, and empowering.  Their mission is to make music that makes change.

Soccer Without Borders
The Soccer Without Borders mission is to use soccer as a vehicle for positive change, providing under-served youth with a toolkit to overcome obstacles to growth, inclusion, and personal success.

The finalists are currently being reviewed by a selection committee comprising ZFF board members, community leaders, and subject matter experts from the field.  The winner will be announced this fall.  Stay tuned for more information about this year’s finalists and the winner of the 2022 WJZ Award for Social Change!

Youth Together

2021 WJZ Award Winner

Youth Together is an Oakland-based nonprofit that works to address the root causes of educational inequities by developing multiracial youth leaders and engaging school and community allies to promote positive school change, grounded in their commitment to peace, unity, and justice. The organization emerged in 1996 as a community-inspired solution to incidents of interracial violence at schools in Oakland and Richmond, California.

The majority of Youth Together participants are from low-income, ethnically and linguistically diverse communities and attend under-resourced schools in East and West Oakland, where 76 percent of the student population qualify for free and reduced lunch. Youth Together works to combat the school-to-prison pipeline, increase high school graduation and college readiness, foster peace and multiracial solidarity on campus, ensure young people are prepared for both college and career pathways, and develop youth leaders who identify and solve the issues facing them and their communities. The ultimate aim is to develop young people into lifelong community leaders committed to civic engagement. Youth Together provides a year-round leadership development program for 12 lead student organizers, 75 core team members, and engages more than 1,800 students across three sites at McClymonds, Skyline, and Castlemont high schools in Oakland.

Some of Youth Together’s many victories and accomplishments include the creation of ZFF grantee RYSE Center in Richmond, California (2008) and the One Land One People Skyline High School Youth Center in 2002. Their youth leaders’ successes have led to the elimination of the California High School Exit Exam (2006); the passage of the Local Control Funding Formula in California (2013); ensured student government leaders play a more active role in decision making throughout Oakland Unified School District (OUSD); assured the passage and implementation of the A-G school standards policy in OUSD so graduating youth are eligible for UCs and CSUs (2009); and, in November 2020, supporting Oakland youth to gain the legal right to allow 16-year-olds to vote in Oakland school board elections, becoming the 6th city in the nation to give young people electoral power.

Awarding this year’s WJZ Award to Youth Together recognizes the importance of centering those most impacted by conditions in their solution, as well as the incredible changes that can occur when youth are given the opportunity and tools to lead. ZFF is proud to honor Youth Together and all the nominees for this year’s award who center the voices of young people in their efforts to advance social change.

Previous Award Recipients

Hip Hop For Change

Recipient of 2020 WJZ Award


Recipient of 2019 WJZ Award