Showing posts with label san jose nonprofit. Show all posts
Showing posts with label san jose nonprofit. Show all posts

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Opportunity Fund

Below is a guest post by Phillip Bergman. Opportunity Fund is a non-profit headquarterd in Downtown San Jose. Over the past 20 years they have loaned $173 million to 13,000 businesses and individuals. Last year alone they provided $60 million in loans. It is tough (and expensive) to run a business in San Jose, and this is a local resource that may be able to help.

San Jose is home to non-profit Opportunity Fund (, which believes that small amounts of money and financial advice can help people make permanent and lasting change in their own lives, driving economic mobility and building stronger communities. It says yes to small business owners, low-income students, and families because entrepreneurship, education, and sound financial habits are proven pathways to greater economic opportunity.

Even in the most favorable circumstances, creating small business success is a significant challenge. With traditional lenders tightening lending qualifications, small business owners are often left with a narrow set of problematic options – lending schemes with triple-digit interest rates that can cripple a business. Opportunity Fund helps small business owners avoid predatory lending, such as high rate ‘fast cash’ advances. About 90 percent of its loans are to minority owned businesses and Opportunity Fund provides no cost evaluation of loan needs and complimentary cash flow analysis to determine financing that businesses can afford to help promote long term success. The strategy combines microloans for small business owners and microsavings accounts to help students pay for college and families save for a rainy day. As California’s leading microfinance provider, Opportunity Fund has loaned more than $170 million and helped about 13,000 people since 1994.

Opportunity Fund's role is to help working families realize their dreams and move beyond worrying about how to live day to day. Visit for more information about the organization and San Jose office.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Valley Verde Launching in San Jose

Guest post by Raffaella Cerruti:


Valle Verde

If you’ve been looking for a non-profit organization working to create access of healthy
and fresh food in San Jose, let Valley Verde be your inspiring story.

About three years ago Raul Lozano, the former executive director of the Latino theater
company in San Jose, Teatro Vision, decided to make a shift in his career by taking part
of the urban agriculture revolution movement. Soon, he realized that in main challenge
in the urban food movement was to reach out to low income communities. Low income
people in the US have less access to an affordable, healthy diet than and their health
is at greater risk from diet related illness as a result. There is a general thinking that
organic gardening is only a hobby for families with the financial means, enticing only
to those who have the time and money for it. Some think that lower-income families
simply can’t be expected to be interested in growing their own food because they lack
the resources or they are time poor because they often work two or more jobs and lack
the energy to maintain a garden. The nonprofit that Raul started in 2011, Valley Verde,
is all about making sure that people have access to good fresh food by providing the
resources and support needed to plant and maintain a home organic garden.

Valley Verde provides low income families with the knowledge and tools needed to
grow and maintain their own organic vegetable gardens. The families receive one or two
raised bed gardens, according to space and family size, an irrigation system, classes
on gardening and nutrition, seeds and seedlings, and a gardening mentor who will
give gardening support for one year. The goal of the one year program is to empower
the families with the vegetable gardening knowledge to continue their own gardens.
Families who wish to share their knowledge can participate in a future Valley Verde
project to help other families learn the same valuable skills.

Valley Verde started last fall with a group of 25 families in Gilroy and now they are
looking for new families in the community of Seven Trees, for the next Spring's planting
season. In order to support and expand the free services offered to the low-income
community, they also started selling garden installations and maintenance services as
well as "do-it-yourself" kits to residents of Santa Clara County who would like to start a
home organic garden.

To illustrate the impact of access to fresh organic vegetables, Raul likes to quote one of
the participants in Gilroy. A mother of two, her children would never eat beets, because
she could only afford to by the canned variety and they did not like the taste. Now that
they grow their own, her children love beets, and the rest of the vegetables that they
grow. We all know that fresh organic vegetable taste better and are better for you and
we believe everyone should have access to those benefits. Raul Lozano has a plan to

start a real revolution for the Silicon Valley. With the help of corporate sponsors and
donations, within 10 years, we want to provide free gardens to as many as 5,000 low
income families.

A quote by eco-chef, food justice activist, Bryant Terry, who recently said: “Unless small
start-ups, food incubators and local food movements are equipping the communities
they provide outreach to become their own leaders, directors and ultimately self-
sustaining, you're just playing games". We feel like that is our call to action!
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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

TurningWheels for Kids Annual Big Bike Build Produces Over 2k Bikes!

Last Saturday in downtown San Jose, many (MANY) volunteers got together for the annual TurningWheels for Kids Big Bike Build.

TWFK Big Bike Build

If you're not familiar with TurningWheels for Kids, it is an organization born from the mind of Susan Runsvold, a nurse at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. She wanted to make sure that every child had the opportunity to receive a cool, exciting gift at Christmas - an experience she wasn't always sure she'd have as a child growing up. She came to the realization that receiving a bike all your own, a brand new one, is one of those memories every child should have the opportunity to have.

You can read more about the history of TurningWheels, but the bottom line - their mission, is to continue to provide underprivileged children with bicycles year-round. So each year just before Christmas, volunteers and groups from all over the South Bay come together and assemble donated bikes.

TWFK Big Bike BuildAt my previous job, I had the privilege to work with Sue and her team on promoting TWFK. I absolutely love what they do so I wanted to make sure to stop by the Big Bike Build to take some photos and see everyone. It's such an amazing scene! It's like watching a bunch of elves getting the toys ready for Santa!

Some facts from this year's work:
  • 2,650 bikes were built on Saturday (plus 493 a week before in Livermore)
  • Distributed over 300 bikes this year to two pediatric clinics
  • 2012 has had the highest distribution yet - 3,443 bikes!
  • TWFK provides bikes to organizations for distribution such as: City Team, EMQ, Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County, Bay Area Rescue Mission, Richmond Fire Department, Santa Cruz County sheriffs, Sacred Heart and many others!

TWFK Big Bike BuildThe last few years, in the middle of the build, CEOs and local celebrities and supporters make their way to the main stage to participate in the Great Trike Race! They hop on adult-sized tricycles and race around a track in the middle of the convention center. It's great fun to watch and no doubt, fun to race! You need to watch out for Sharkie though, he's a sneaky one!

TWFK Big Bike Build
Sharkie and Valley Medical Center Foundation's Executive Director, Chris Wilder make the first turn during the Great Trike Race!

This year's winner was Barry Arata, a local fireman who won the title in 2010 but lost it to Josh Thomson of Strikeforce in 2011.

Many thanks to this year's title sponsor, DPR, for their generous donation of $60,000! Other wonderful sponsors like the Monterey Peninsula Foundation, Cisco, Therma and many more helped support TurningWheels for Kids.

TWFK Big Bike Build

If TurningWheels for Kids sounds interesting to you, they could use your help. This year, 4,700 bikes were requested (via organizations, groups, etc) but there were only 2,600+ to give. Donations are how they're able to purchase bikes and helmets for the kids. If you'd like to read more, please check out their website and their 'What You Do Matters' Campaign for more information.

~ Jennifer Bullock OwYoung