Managing 550+ philanthropic funds valued at $1.1 billion; $48 million awarded in grants and scholarships

A year after stepping up to serve the community in unprecedented times of dire need in 2020 caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the San Antonio Area Foundation didn’t miss a beat and, in fact, doubled down on its commitment to make ours truly a city of opportunity for all its residents.

The Area Foundation announced the release of Mosaic – its 2021 Impact Report. In all, last year the agency managed more than 550 philanthropic funds valued at $1.1 billion and it awarded more than $48 million in grants to nearly 1,400 nonprofits as well as in college scholarships and hardship grants. Additionally, it provided professional development training to more than 1,500 nonprofit leaders.

Yet every single one of those accomplishments didn’t come in a vacuum – it all starts with the sheer altruism we continue to see in our city, which still faces many challenges but one that undoubtedly comes together with neighbor helping neighbor.

“It became clear to me: when we trust each other, we fit together in a meaningful way,” said Marjie French, CEO of the Area Foundation, describing this approach as trust-based philanthropy. “Our individual pieces become a mosaic, a picture benefitting the generous spirit of our community.”

The year 2021 will also go down in Area Foundation history for ushering a monumental pivot in terms of major decision-making as to the new direction the agency will take moving forward.

Under the leadership of James T. Hill, a retired Four-Star U.S. Army General, the Area Foundation Board of Directors refocused the organization’s philosophical lens by deciding to invest in our city’s marginalized communities like never before. As part of an ambitious new five-year strategic plan, the board approved language for a new mission and vision reflecting this shift.

“An honest assessment of the inequities that persist throughout San Antonio and beyond drove us to articulate our vision of what the impact of our efforts should look like: to close the opportunity gaps for the people in San Antonio who need it the most,” Hill said.

The eye-catching, mosaic-themed 2021 Impact Report already puts on full display the Area Foundation’s new direction, clearly reflected in the work of the agency’s grantmaking efforts. The grantee base is more diverse and equity-centered, and the trust-based philanthropy approach provides grantees more flexibility and freedom to invest in the community the way they know best.      

Yet that trust circle wouldn’t even be formed if not for the Area Foundation’s growing cadre of donors, whose charitable giving fuels the locomotive pulling the Area Foundation train.

“We chose to partner with the San Antonio Area Foundation because we wanted to define a clear mission on our annual giving and we trust the direction and support that the Area Foundation will allow us,” said Rick Cavender of the Cavender Auto Family.