San Francisco Foundation: A Shared New Vision for Building Wealth

San Francisco Foundation: A Shared New Vision for Building Wealth
Six outstanding community foundation teams from across the country completed their participation in CFLeads’ two-year Economic Mobility Action Network pilot this summer.

We’re sharing community foundation stories from our recently published report, Advancing Economic Mobility in our Communities, which documents the outcomes of these community foundations that came together to develop economic mobility agendas for their communities.

San Francisco Foundation

HOPE SF: Building a new vision of wealth

The San Francisco Foundation has been engaged in a community-driven strategic planning process to assess and understand how wealth-building policies and strategies can lead to economic advancement for isolated public housing communities that are transforming into mixed-income communities.

HOPE SF started in 2011 and is housed at the foundation, with the City and County of San Francisco and the nonprofit Enterprise Community Partners as partners. HOPE SF serves over 5,000 city residents, 88% to 96% of whom are people of color.

Through the Economic Mobility Action Network, the foundation and its HOPE SF partners explored how the partnership could evolve from a vision of repairing and redressing systematic racial oppression towards a vision of wealth-building. In this new approach, trust-building and power-sharing with residents are central objectives.

To shape the wealth-building work, the Partnership for HOPE SF put together a planning and design team that includes 10 HOPE residents as paid consultants, together with representatives from the lead organizations. The team met two to three times each week to work on developing and putting into action a framework for the project, with contracted help from the Insight Center for Community Economic Development and its expertise on disparities in racial wealth across the U.S.

The resident consultants and the Wealth Planning Team developed a vision of wealth that, beyond finances, is an individual’s and community’s total accumulated tangible and intangible assets and resources, including social, familial, resilient, aspirational, cultural, financial, political, and educational resources.

“This is a very much more progressive approach to trying to get a lot of community work done. We have systems where we have residents at the table.”
Deirel MarquezDirector of Economic Advancement, San Francisco Mayor’s Office
People standing around.a man showing them a construction plan.
Participants of the Economic Mobility Action Network at the Greater Auburn-Gresham Development, Chicago, IL

Undoing the root causes of inequity

The team’s framework focuses on four “foundational actions” that can address the root causes of racial wealth inequity: center policies on Blackness, create narrative change and culture shifts, dismantle extractive practices and policies, and nourish the social and financial assets of communities of color. As
initiative planning continues, the commitment is for HOPE SF resident consultants to continue making up more than half of those at the table.

Eventually, the team coalesced around a plan for an intervention that included a guaranteed income pilot. The pilot project aims to advance racial economic equity at macro and individual and family levels. Along with the support it received from CFLeads through the Network, the initiative has raised $750,000 from philanthropic partners.

“The emphasis here really is that this is a resident-led initiative,” said Daryel Dunston, former Sr. Director of the Place Pathway at the foundation. “This is not a situation where you have government partners or philanthropic partners telling the residents what they should be doing … but rather serving in an advisory role to help guide them to a strategy.”

“The funding has absolutely equipped us to do the work,” he added. “It shows a commitment to the work that isn’t just locally based; we are able to say, ‘There is a national network that is supporting this wealth building work, that is supporting the work of equity.’ That’s a more powerful message.”

“It was a breath of fresh air, and it’s actually very inspiring,” he continued. “It’s been a long journey, and we’re not done yet.”

Look at the literally billions of dollars that have been spent on public housing and revitalization in this country. More often than not, you will find two things. One, all of that money was spent on bricks and mortar, and almost none of it was spent on kids and families — and two, the end result has been to push the kids and families that lived in these public housing developments for decades out into surrounding communities. HOPE SF has turned that paradigm on its head.
Fred BlackwellCEO, San Francisco Foundation


If you have any questions about CFLeads’ future economic mobility work, please contact Leonard Brock at or 617-854-3549.