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 Finalists!

We are thrilled to announce the finalist for this year’s William J. Zellerbach Award for Social Change. These five organizations exemplify the power of youth organizing to cultivate the strengths and leadership of young people to transform the conditions and systems that impact them most.

The five finalists are:

AYPAL: Building API Community PowerAYPAL’s mission is to empower Oakland’s low-income Asian & Pacific Islander immigrant and refugee families to be leaders for school reform and neighborhood change.

Filipino Advocates for Justice– Since 1973, FAJ has been an advocate for immigrant and civil rights by providing direct services, developing leaders, and organizing and advocating on issues important to the Filipino community as a historically underserved ethnic minority.

Oakland Kids FirstOakland Kids First increases youth voice, leadership, and power to create engaging and equitable public schools where all students learn and lead.

People Organizing to Demand Environmental and Economic Rights (PODER)PODER’s mission is to organize with Latino immigrant families and youth to put into practice people-powered solutions that are locally based, community led and environmentally just.

Youth Together– the mission of Youth Together is to address the root causes of educational inequities by developing multiracial youth leaders and engaging school community allies to promote positive school change.

The finalists are being reviewed by a selection committee comprising ZFF board members, community leaders, and subject matter experts from the field. The winner will be announced in October 2021. Stay tuned for more information about this year’s finalists and the winner of the 2021 WJZ Award for Social Change!

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