New Grant Program Aims to Protect San Francisco Nonprofits

Valerie, a client, and Executive Director Sherilyn Adams at Larkin Street Youth Services, among the first nonprofits to receive displacement mitigation support from San Francisco (Photo: Courtesy of Larkin Street Youth Services)

San Francisco is launching a new grant program to help nonprofits with limited funds defy the city’s booming real estate market. The grants are part of what Mayor Ed Lee is calling his "Nonprofit Sustainability Initiative", which includes a total investment of $6 million over two years.

"We’re shifting the balance toward purchasing permanent space," said Lex Leifheit with the city’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development, which will be administering the program. "And nonprofits interested in sharing space have support in this new program."

Leifheit said she spoke to more than 100 nonprofits in developing the new funding program. She says that most of them, whether they're arts organizations or child care providers, operate on razor-thin budgets. Even if the grants won't go far in pricey San Francisco, she says, they'll allow nonprofits to leverage bigger donations from other donors.

Lex Leifheit of the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development
Lex Leifheit of the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development (Photo: Courtesy of Lex Leifheit)

The city is seeking grant applications for $4.25 million over two years for organizations looking for seed funding to buy new, permanent space. There's also almost $1.5 million in funds to cover such one-time costs as architectural, engineering, and legal services, rent stipends, and moving and tenant improvements.

As in past rounds of funding, the Northern California Community Loan Fund (NCCLF), among the region's most innovative lenders and real estate consultants, will work with nonprofits interested in learning how to share space with other nonprofits. “NCCLF helps nonprofits get ready to enter the real estate market," Leifheit says.  "So that when an opportunity comes up they can act fast and be competitive."

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