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Amazing Bay Area Non-Profit Organizations
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Amazing Bay Area Non-Profit Organizations

Picture of Noemi Ola Berkowitz
Updated: 9 February 2017
The San Francisco Bay Area is home to many exciting art galleries, architectural wonders, bookstores, niche foods, and more. However, it doesn’t get enough attention for the social good done by many of the stellar non-profit organizations. These non-profits have carved out their own paths, brought something new to their communities, and often had an impact beyond the Bay Area.
826 Valencia | © vincelaconte/Flickr
826 Valencia | © vincelaconte/Flickr

826 Valencia

Founded in 2002, 826 Valencia wants to ‘close the academic achievement gap for under-served youth in the Bay Area’ by supporting students ages six to 18 with their writing. They use a variety of methods, from after-school tutoring, to workshops, to college and career preparation. Its success led to the creation of 826 National, which reaches around 32,000 students annually through its seven chapters. According to their national statistics, after a year of tutoring, 92 percent of students felt ‘confident in their ability to complete their homework’ and 89 percent of parents said ‘their child’s writing skills improved’ in that year.

826 Valencia, 826 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 642 5905

Ashkenaz | © Paul Sullivan/Flickr
Ashkenaz | © Paul Sullivan/Flickr

Ashkenaz

In 1973, David Nadel founded Ashkenaz to bring the songs and dances of other cultures to the Bay Area. He hoped to foster understanding of heritages and cultural differences, but was murdered in 1996 in the very dancehall he created for peace and nonviolence. The City of Berkeley honored him and declared January 14–21, 1997, David Nadel Week, and many community members came together to keep the dancehall going as a nonprofit arts organization. Since then, the all-ages venue has continued its cultural, educational, and artistic work. Join this inclusive and diverse community at an event, in one of their classes, or as a volunteer.

Ashkenaz Music & Dance Community Center, 1317 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA, USA, +1 510 525 5054

Rigoberta Menchú Tum |© Edgar Zuniga Jr./Flickr
Rigoberta Menchú Tum | © Edgar Zuniga Jr./Flickr

Center for Justice and Accountability

‘CJA’s victories are bringing us closer to a world in which state-sponsored torture is unacceptable.’ These words, from Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Rigoberta Menchú Tum, demonstrate the success of the Center for Justice and Accountability’s work since 1998. An international human rights organization, CJA uses a survivor-centered approach including medical and psycho-social services (to aid with the recovery process) as well as legal representation (often partnering with pro bono law firms). They have won favorable verdicts in all cases that have gone to trial, including cases against Peruvian military commanders responsible for the Accomarca massacre, the Salvadoran military commander responsible for the Jesuits massacre, and many more. For their work, they won the third Thomas J. Dodd Prize in International Justice and Human Rights.

Center for Justice and Accountability, Flood Building, One Hallidie Plaza #406, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 544 0444

Brava Theater in San Francisco | © BWChicago/Flickr
Brava Theater in San Francisco | © BWChicago/Flickr

Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project

Since 2000, QWOCMAP has supported the production of over 200 films about and by queer women of color. They’ve begun and grown a film festival, from a free screening at the SF LGBT Community Center in 2003 to a free three-day event at the Brava Theater. In 2015, the festival focus was ‘Justice Heals,’ a theme that ‘radiates our tenacity as queer and trans people of color, and our collective power to transform the trauma and violence that often eclipses our lives.’ Additionally, they work towards zero waste and earth-friendly practices at every festival. In addition to their festival, they also host an annual Filmmaker Training Program.

QWOCMAP, 59 Cook St, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 752 0868

Housing in San Francisco | © Martyn E. Jones/FreeImages.com
Housing in San Francisco | © Martyn E. Jones/FreeImages.com

San Francisco AIDS Foundation

‘We refuse to accept HIV as inevitable.’ Since 1982, the mission of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation has been to radically reduce new HIV infections with a combination of education, advocacy, and direct services. They are involved from the local level (they are San Francisco’s largest provider of rental support for low-income people with HIV/AIDS, providing nearly $300 million annually) to the state level to the federal level (working with the CDC on preventative medication as well as implementing the first National HIV/AIDS strategy). Their funding of California’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program has provided treatment to over 36,000 individuals. By tackling awareness, prevention, public policy, and care for those who are HIV-positive, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation has a multidimensional approach that does all it can for ending the HIV epidemic in the city and beyond.

San Francisco AIDS Foundation, 1035 Market St #400, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 487 3000

Fresh Produce | © Jamie McCaffrey
Fresh Produce | © Jamie McCaffrey

SF-Marin Food Bank

Established in 1987, the SF-Marin Food Bank distributes over 45 million pounds of food per year. Of this, more than 28 million pounds consist of fresh fruits and vegetables. They aim to end hunger in San Francisco and Marin, where one in four residents face the daily threat of hunger. Specific partnerships include the Morning Snack Program at high-need schools and the Food Stamp (CalFresh) Outreach program, helping eligible low-income people enroll for benefits and connecting them to resources. Their 450 community partners aid them in distributing 107,000 meals worth of food on a daily basis.

San Francisco-Marin Food Bank, 900 Pennsylvania Ave, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 282 1900

W Hotel San Francisco | © Brent 2.0/Flickr
W Hotel San Francisco | © Brent 2.0/Flickr

Spark

Since 2004, Spark has invested in women through grassroots organizations to transform communities. They use a multi-pronged approach of financial support, time, and connections to create a learning community that empowers women globally. In 10 years, they have raised over $2 million in grants and pro-bono services, building a network of support on a foundation of gender equality and empowerment. With core values of inclusion, curiosity, accessibility, solidarity, and courage, they’ve invested in everything from Oakland’s Serenity House (a healing center for women recovering from trauma) to the Young Feminists Movement in Pakistan.

W Hotel, 181 3rd St, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 777 5300