Families line up in a hallway to get their room assignments.
Travis Park United Methodist Church was one of four groups providing migrant resource services that received $305,000 from the San Antonio Area Foundation. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

The San Antonio Area Foundation last year awarded a total of $3 million to nonprofits working in some of the city’s most economically distressed neighborhoods, part of its total giving to the community.

The Area Foundation announced Thursday it has made grants totaling $10 million from its two primary sources of discretionary grantmaking: the John L. Santikos Charitable Foundation, and the group of 60 charitable funds it manages. 

Of the grants made at the end of 2019, $3 million was given to nearly 100 nonprofits through the Area Foundation’s annual competitive process. Those include a roster of nonprofits from the residential drug and alcohol treatment center, Alpha Home, to Youth Orchestras of San Antonio.

The remainder went to City Education Partners, two international nonprofits specified by Santikos, and for urgent needs, including disaster relief.

A total of 376 nonprofits applied for a grant, and nearly 100 received operational funding awards – 17 percent for the first time from the Area Foundation. Local leaders serving on community advisory committees evaluated the Area Foundation’s staff recommendations and provided final input and approvals on all awards. 

This year’s giving marked a shift in how the Area Foundation evaluates and selects its annual grant recipients.

The recent grants were given to support operational budgets at nonprofit organizations, versus specific programs, in response to many nonprofits saying their greatest need is funding that supports flexibility in their spending.

“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.” 

The foundation also revised its grant application to determine which nonprofits are working in “zip codes of impact.” Sixty-five percent of the grant recipients are nonprofits that serve in 15 of San Antonio’s most economically distressed zip codes. Of those, 42 percent provide two or more services in the 15 zip codes, and 34 percent of the grantees operate specifically in zip code 78207, which is considered the most impoverished. 

Another change in the process this year is how the Area Foundation awarded nonprofit grants, ranging from $8,000 to $50,000, based on the entity’s budget size. 

The San Antonio Area Foundation revised its grant application to determine which nonprofits are working in “zip codes of impact.
The San Antonio Area Foundation targeted nonprofits of varying budget sizes with amounts based on an organization’s budget size.

The Area Foundation also awarded nearly $2.2 million in its collaborative grantmaking process, which includes significant funding 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. They include:

  • $600,000 in total to two nonprofits (Avance and the 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.
  • $305,000 to four groups 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. It is estimated a 1 percent missed count of Texans could impact the state with a loss of $300 million 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 four 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 Alamo Promise, which makes college more accessible to local graduating seniors by providing the financial support necessary to earn a certificate or associate’s degree at Alamo Colleges.
  • $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 its 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. EBBSA was founded by the Area Foundation.
  • $100,000 to Texas Public Radio to host four community conversations at the new TPR headquarters that 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.
  • $100,000 for the Family Independence Initiative. The goal of this initiative is 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.

The Area Foundation distributed another $2 million to nonprofits specified in the will of John Santikos. Those nonprofits are Doctors Without Borders and International Orthodox Christian Charities.

A gift of $2 million went to City Education Partners (CEP), the announcement said, to deepen support of area youth and the education pathway within inner-city schools. The foundation’s partnership with CEP is intended to establish a “workforce pipeline” of teachers committed to working at inner-city schools. 

Over $1 million in discretionary funds was distributed to disaster relief aid and for sudden and urgent nonprofit needs, research initiatives, and sponsorships. 

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.

Shari Biediger has been covering business and development for the San Antonio Report since 2017. A graduate of St. Mary’s University, she has worked in the corporate and nonprofit worlds in San Antonio...