As an institution that celebrates diversity Christensen is delighted to be headquartered in San Francisco. The Bay Area is an outward looking place and akind of Pacific cultural crossroads and this helps us remain connected to the wider world. Furthermore it is a place renowned for forward thinking explorations of systems and holistic thinking, and of diverse identities and human creativity. As such the Fund finds itself bathed in lively debate and considerable comfort with valuing both heritage and innovation: a wonderful place to find our staff and for them to make a home. And of course we are surrounded here by landscapes and seascapes of incredible power. On the other hand we can never forget the scale of environmental and cultural abuse which have characterized the settlement of Northern California, and the many ongoing and unresolved issues, including the lack of recognition and territorial rights of the indigenous Ohlone and Coastal Miwok on whose ancestral lands we live and work.
Primary Themes for Grantmaking
The Bay Area Program has three primary themes:
This new grantmaking effort is developing a suite of efforts to support local indigenous groups to restore their relationships with their historic territories and cultural sites as well as to sustain and revitalize their cultural identities and expression more generally and its transmission across generations. Grants also assist them to inform the people now living in the Bay Area of these histories and the continuing indigenous presence.
There are diaspora from most parts of the world in the Bay Area, and we focus on supporting community institutions among diaspora from our priority regions, of whom there are particularly large numbers from Ethiopia and West Central Asia (especially Afghans and Iranians). Grants focus particularly on cultural programs that involve efforts across generations, to enable maintainenance of connections with their homelands while adapting to their new context. Other grants assist them to share their traditions in food, film, dance, music, art with the rest of us.
Building Understanding and Engaging Communities
Many of the institutions in the Bay Area – the many universities, museums, arts centers, NGO start ups, maverick think tanks, film festivals, botanic gardens and the like – are pioneering exploration of different dimensions of the changing connections between biological and cultural diversity and of course (being California) of identity and self-expression. We provide small grants to initiate and support such efforts, and to back them in engaging wider Bay Area publics in reflection on these ideas.
To learn more about Bay Area-based projects that we have supported in the past, click here.
Local Giving Program
In addition to the Bay Area grants those of the Fund’s non-program staff who are resident in the Bay Area also operate a Local Grantmaking Program under which small grants are made to local non-profits for social justice, animal welfare and community development activities important to this community but not necessarily intimately connected to our mission. We feel these are part of our “citizenship” in this community, and connect us with many dynamic initiatives and courageous people.
These grants are made by invitation only. To see examples of this work in the past, click here.