Movement to a more equitable process and focusing on excellence served as a catalyst for awards from discretionary funds, including the John L. Santikos Charitable Foundation, a fund of the Area Foundation.

The San Antonio Area Foundation has awarded more than $10 million dollars to more than 100 nonprofits from discretionary funds available for community. The Area Foundation’s awards come from two primary sources of discretionary grantmaking, including collaborative funds from the John L. Santikos Charitable Foundation, and from a group of another 60 charitable funds that comprise the annual, competitive grantmaking process announced each year.

Collaborative grantmaking includes significant investments in key areas of community need, and in partnership with the City of San Antonio, Bexar County, and other local and national funders. Grantees include nonprofits focused on cultural vibrancy, youth success, livable and resilient communities, and successful aging. Investments include:

  • $600,000 in total to two nonprofits (AVANCE and PEACE Initiative) to address the roots of domestic violence by creating healthy family dynamics through the Positive Parenting Program (Triple P), an evidence-based approach to preventing generational violence. The Area Foundation partnered with the City of San Antonio on the recently announced Domestic Violence Comprehensive Plan, becoming the single largest investor outside of the City itself.
  • $305,000 to nonprofits providing migrant resource services, in partnership with the City of San Antonio. Nonprofits receiving funding included the Migrant Resource Center, Catholic Charities, San Antonio Food Bank, and Travis Park United Methodist Church.
  • $200,000 to support the 2020 Census count, to ensure every person is counted. Even a 1% missed count of Texans could impact the state with a loss of $300M in federal funds over a 10-year period. The Area Foundation is one of the largest investors in the Complete Count Committee jointly operated by the City of San Antonio and Bexar County.  
  • $200,000 to local nonprofits experiencing a gap in revenue created by a realignment in other local funding sources. The Area Foundation joined multiple local funders to address the funding gap. Nonprofits supported included the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas, Children’s Shelter, and Presa Community Center.
  • $200,000 to AlamoPROMISE, which makes college more accessible to local graduating seniors by providing the financial support necessary to earn a certificate or associates degree at one of the five Alamo Colleges. The Area Foundation’s investment, along with a coalition of local funders, will help students demystify the enrollment process and provide emergency aid when needed.
  • $200,000 to the McNay Art Museum to bring Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art, organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art. Nonprofits engaged to create cultural access to this important exhibit include the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, San Anto Cultural Arts, and Communities in Schools in San Antonio.
  • $160,000 to the UP Partnership, and their Excel Beyond the Bell San Antonio (EBBSA) network to continue tracking youth outcomes and evidence-based strategies with over 40 nonprofits engaged in effective out-of-school time initiatives. This collective impact framework has proven successful in addressing system-wide improvement for youth. EBBSA was originally founded by the Area Foundation and has remained consistently in the Area Foundation’s investment strategy.
  • $100,000 to Texas Public Radio (TPR) to engage community in four open conversations at the new TPR headquarters. The conversations, to take place over the course of a year, will focus on topics of vital interest to the community, and the critical role that nonprofits play in solving deeply ingrained societal issues.
  • $100,000 for the Alameda Theater Conservancy to restore the historical site and plan for programming in 2021. Once complete, the Conservancy will be the nation’s largest presenter of Latino arts in the nation.
  • $100,000 for the Family Independence Initiative. This initiative, in partnership with several local funders, is a unique and innovative opportunity to place earned income directly into the hands of working families. If fully funded by the community, San Antonio would be one of only a dozen sites across the nation to deploy this proven effort. To learn more, visit 

Another $2 million in total was distributed to nonprofits specified in the will of John L. Santikos, including Doctors without Borders and International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), both of whom provide international refugee relief and support.

A gift of $2 million to City Education Partners (CEP) was also invested to deepen support of area youth and the education pathway within inner city schools. The partnership with CEP creates a workforce pipeline of talented teachers who are committed to working at inner city schools.

Other methods of discretionary investment totaled over $1 million and included disaster relief, sudden and urgent nonprofit needs, research initiatives, and sponsorships.

Of the $10 million total in discretionary funding invested in 2019, $3 million was awarded to nearly 100 nonprofits through the annual competitive process which concluded Dec. 31. The Dec. 31 awards were for operations, providing nonprofit partners the flexibility to apply the funding wherever the investment could make the most difference. Studies have shown that many nonprofits’ greatest need is operational funding.

“Our shift from programmatic funding to operations in the annual competitive grantmaking process is driven by our trusted relationship with the nonprofit community,” said Marjie French, CEO of the Area Foundation. “Investing in nonprofits through operational funding is recognition of philanthropic changes across the city that have impacted our community, while giving nonprofits the chance to breathe and dream for their future.”

Community Advisory Committees comprised of local leaders evaluated the Area Foundation staff recommendations and provided final input and approvals on all awards.

The Area Foundation made several changes to the annual competitive grantmaking application process in 2019 to target nonprofits of varying budget sizes and those providing services in high-need areas.  Changes included basing the award amount on the organization’s budget size, with potential awards ranging from $8,000 to $50,000.

Staff also allowed nonprofits to address gaps in their applications. In the past, nonprofits would be eliminated if errors were found or documents were missing. In 2019, multiple nonprofit applications were corrected and remained in the competitive process, providing an equitable opportunity to receive funding.

The application was also revised to identify the top zip codes of impact, the applicant’s board of directors’ demographic composition, and other changes. As a result of these enhancements, the Area Foundation’s announcements of funding included 65% of nonprofits who serve in 15 of San Antonio’s most challenged zip codes. Of the nonprofits awarded, 42% provide two or more services in those 15 zip codes, and 34% of the grantees operate specifically in zip code 78207, an example of how dedicated the foundation is to creating opportunities for everyone in our community.

The operational funding application process at the Area Foundation began in the summer of 2019, with five community information sessions attended by over 400 nonprofit representatives from 307 organizations; of those, 15 percent had not applied for a grant in the past five years. A total of 376 nonprofits applied for the annual, competitive process, and nearly 100 received operational funding awards. Seventeen percent of those awarded were funded for the first time from the Area Foundation.

The $10 million in discretionary funding for nonprofits is part of a total investment of more than $50 million that the Area Foundation contributes to the community annually. Other efforts, including more than 100 scholarship funds for San Antonio area students, infrastructure support for nine supporting organizations and more than 200 donor-advised funds making grant recommendations annually, provide more than $40M in community philanthropy each year.

Coverage of this release has been published by the Rivard Report and Express-News.

List of Grantees