May 20, 2019 · 4 min read

Partnership for the Bay’s Future Launches Challenge Grants Program


SAN FRANCISCO — The Partnership for the Bay’s Future has announced the launch of its inaugural Challenge Grants for Protection and Preservation (“Challenge Grants”). This program, managed by the San Francisco Foundation with total funding of nearly $4 million, is a competitive process between Bay Area towns, cities and counties interested in catalyzing policy change to protect vulnerable tenants and preserve existing affordable housing. Up to ten jurisdictions will be selected to be a part of the two-year program. Applications may be submitted at

“We are excited to announce and manage these first Challenge Grants on behalf of the Partnership for the Bay’s Future,” said Fred Blackwell, CEO of the San Francisco Foundation. “Housing affordability and stability is an issue for everyone in the Bay Area, and it is particularly acute for communities of color and those who are low-income. This program is a vital first step in delivering housing security and a more equitable and inclusive economy for all.”

Challenge Grants will be made from the Policy Fund, which together with the Investment Fund, launched earlier this year through the Partnership for the Bay’s Future, a cross-sector collaboration to help address the region’s housing affordability crisis.

“These Challenge Grants take aim at some of the root causes of the Bay’s housing affordability crisis, by protecting tenants and preserving the existing supply of homes,” said Caitlyn Fox, Director of Justice & Opportunity at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. “We are proud to support this opportunity to help local governments, who are on the front lines of addressing this crisis, step up their efforts to foster vibrant, inclusive communities in the Bay Area.”

Challenge Grants: Overview and Application Process

Jurisdictions that propose the most high-impact, yet realistically achievable plans, will be selected to be a part of the program. Within this period, awardee jurisdictions will receive a capacity building and technical assistance package to pass and begin implementing protection and preservation policies. The package will include:

  • An early to mid-career fellow to increase capacity for this work;
  • Peer cohort support for regional impact;
  • Preferential status when applying for flexible capital from the Partnership’s Investment Fund, and;
  • Access to technical assistance.

Challenge Grants are open to towns, cities and counties in the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara that are currently experiencing, or at risk of experiencing displacement or exclusion of low-income and people of color communities.

The San Francisco Foundation will accept applications from town, city and county departments that play a lead role in housing, planning, community development or other relevant areas. Applications featuring creative cross-departmental and town/city/county partnerships are also acceptable.

Challenge Grant applications are due on August 9, 2019 at 11:59 PM PST.

After receiving applications, The San Francisco Foundation will conduct three rounds of review, including participation from the Partnership for the Bay’s Future’s Advisory Board, followed by site visits with select jurisdictions to interview staff, electeds and community partners central to the effort. Awardees will be announced in November 2019.

Challenge Grants are made possible by the Policy Fund, administered by the San Francisco Foundation. Guided by a diverse Advisory Board, which includes investors from the philanthropic and corporate sectors, public sector and policy experts, as well as community leaders, the Policy Fund will support initiatives that strengthen low-income tenant protections and preserve and expand affordable housing.

View the complete Request for Proposals and apply for a Challenge Grant:

Partnership for the Bay’s Future

The Partnership for the Bay’s Future is a collaborative effort, developed through years of conversations with community and faith leaders, housing experts, elected officials, nonprofit and for-profit developers, and residents. The Partnership focuses on advancing a more inclusive and equitable future for our region by solving its interconnected challenges: housing, transportation, and economic opportunity. Partners include the San Francisco Foundation, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Ford Foundation, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), Facebook, Genentech, Kaiser Permanente, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Stupski Foundation, and Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

The Partnership started in January 2019 with two breakthrough funds—the Investment Fund and the Policy Fund—with a goal to expand and protect the housing rights of up to 175,000 households over the next five years and preserve and produce more than 8,000 homes over the next five to 10 years in the Bay Area. The Investment Fund, which has raised more than $300 million in capital towards its $500 million goal, has already extended a line of credit to a local community development organization that works with diverse communities in the East Bay, to build over 800 affordable homes. The Challenge Grants are the first funding opportunity offered by the Policy Fund. Visit for more information.

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