District 10 to Get a Portion of Salesforce.com $10 million Donation
By Liz Melchor
Last fall, Salesforce.com chief executive officer Marc Benioff took the stage at his company’s annual conference, Dreamforce, held South-of-Market (SoMa). He started his keynote with an announcement: $10 million would be donated to charitable causes in District 10 in honor of Dreamforce 10. “This,” Benioff said, “is my favorite moment in the whole keynote.”
Salesforce had already started its goodwill mission to District 10 a couple days before Benioff’s announcement, fielding volunteers to help clean-up McLaren Park. The company gives its employees up to six paid days a year to volunteer. Chuck Faruggia, of Help McLaren Park, was grateful for the assistance. “McLaren could use more of these miracle work days,” he said.
The press release that followed Benioff’s announcement identified five grants — $1 million to the Campaign for Hope SF, $2.5 million to Year Up, $1.5 million to San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH) and the Southeast Health Clinic, $2.5 million to the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and $2.5 million to the Exploratorium — intended to “accelerate the transformation of District 10.” While much of the money will be spent on programs that serve District 10 residents, more than $4 million of the $10 million will be invested in the new Exploratorium along the Embarcadero and the UCSF Mission Bay campus.
According to Barbara Kibbe, Salesforce.com Foundation’s chief operating officer, the foundation became interested in District 10 after an initial effort to move the company to Mission Bay. While Salesforce.com decided not to build a new Mission Bay campus after realizing it wasn’t going to be big enough to accommodate near-term growth, the company retained an interest in Southside neighborhoods. “People with the greatest needs are living in the southeast neighborhoods. Transformation is afoot. We asked ourselves can we do it in a way that can protect diversity and opportunity so that it doesn’t become another gentrified neighborhood,” said Kibbe.
District 10’s needs are complex. For the young children seen by pediatrician Dr. Jamal Harris at the Southeast Health Center, medical problems are compounded by stresses that come from living amidst poverty and violence. Five hundred thousand dollars will go to hiring a psychologist and case-worker, and adding more doctor hours, at the center. “The primary care pediatrician is the first person they see, so if we begin looking at behavioral health issues children have — like managing ADHD, early school failure, depression screening, and issues around trauma — we could actually help,” explained Marcellina Ogbu, San Francisco Department of Public Health’s director of community programs. By focusing on children less than six years old, the center hopes to better prepare kids for school, and catch problems early. Another $1 million will go to SFGH, located on Potrero Avenue, to help rebuild the hospital.
The $1 million dedicated to the Campaign for Hope SF focuses on children and academic performance. Hope SF is a public-private venture sponsored by the Mayor’s Office of Housing to redevelop eight public housing projects in Visitacion Valley, Potrero Hill, Hunters Point, and the Western Addition. Under Hope SF the same number of public housing units as exist today will be retained, while below-market and at-market rate units will be added. The Campaign for Hope SF provides services to housing complex residents. According to Ellie Rossiter, the Campaign for Hope SF’s director, while things are in the planning phase, the funds will generally be used to support programs to help with school attendance and family trauma.
The Exploratorium, the hands-on science museum, will move this spring to Piers 15-17, at the bottom of Telegraph hill. Five hundred thousand dollars of Salesforce’s $2.5 million donation to the museum will go to High School Explainers, a program that pays high school students minimum wage to serve as docents. But while High School Explainers has committed to hiring at least 50 kids from District 10 over the next two years, that number represents a modest percent of those employed; the program is expected to triple from its current size of 100 to 140 students annually. And according to Leslie Patterson, the Exploratorium’s public information officer, students who apply to be docents generally find out about the program through word-of-mouth; it’s so successful outreach isn’t necessary. District 10 students will have to be in the know to find out about the opportunity. The remaining $2 million — deposited in the museum’s $300 million capital campaign to build and move to the piers — adds the Salesforce name to the Explainer Suite, where the program’s office and lounges are located.
The Exploratorium will appear in Mission Bay, at another named-by-donation-building, the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, a facility that will receive more than $100 million from Benioff. Roughly $2.2 million of the $2.5 million pledged to UCSF will be dedicated to bringing Exploratorium exhibits into the hospital, which is located in District 6. The funds will also pay for media-walls in hospital rooms. What used to simply be a television, will now be a portal that allows access to medical records, food services, and even a webcam to university classrooms.
The $340,000 pledged to the EXCEL program, a partnership between UCSF and Jewish Vocational Services (JVS), may have the largest impact on District 10 residents. Under the program, which is located at JVS’ Bush and Sansome streets office, low-income adults – mostly parents –are provided 10 weeks of intensive classroom training to learn technology skills, customer service, and medical terminology, followed by a four month paid internship at UCSF. Transportation stipends are offered, as needed. EXCEL graduates tend to continue working in their internship jobs after they’ve graduated from the program.
A similar model — classroom training followed by paid internship — is used at Year Up, a recipient of $2.5 million. “We see companies trying to find talent despite high unemployment rates. We know that there are millions of people out there looking for real skills and opportunities to prove themselves,” said Jay Banfield, Year Up Bay Area’s founding executive director. His organization tries to close this gap by providing paid technical training – while also garnering college credits – followed by an internship at technology companies like Salesforce, eBay, or Twitter. After the internship, most graduates either remain employed or choose to go back to school full-time. The Salesforce funds enable Year Up to add one more class a term. With two terms a year, this means 80 more students, and Year Up has pledged that those students will be from District 10. According to Banfield, Year Up is currently planning outreach efforts. While Year Up is based in SoMa, Banfield said that if the annual $10,000 stipend isn’t enough students can apply for an additional transportation scholarship.
According to Farrugia, Salesforce volunteers were back at McLaren late last year, doing much appreciated work. But there’s one person who didn’t receive the press release about the Salesforce.com foundation grants who thinks she should have. Mary Radcliffe, editor of Bay View, said “If you aren’t going to tell the community newspaper about something, how are you getting the word out? I am glad they are handing out money. They made some effort. Now, I hope that there are some people that actually do something.”
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