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2016 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Sunnyvale Community Services

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Emergency Assistance, Human Services

Mission: To prevent homelessness, utility disconnections, untreated medical problems, and hunger for low-income families and seniors facing temporary crises.

Results: Our proudest accomplishments are providing financial aid and food to every qualified family/senior, turning no one away because we lacked the resources to help them.  However, we did so by “the skin of our teeth.” Four years ago, we distributed $390,000 of financial aid; last year, $610,000.  Four years ago, we distributed $660,000 of food; last year, $1,335,000.  After expenses over $2.6 million, we ended the fiscal year with $5,750 left over.  Need continues to escalate. and we continually try to raise more money and to obtain more food to meet the most basic needs of the low-income clients we serve.

Target demographics: Low-income families, seniors, and persons with disabilities

Direct beneficiaries per year: 7,500

Geographic areas served: Sunnyvale residents and homeless clients

Programs: Founded in 1970, sunnyvale community services (scs) is an independent nonprofit agency. Scs is designated by united way of the bay area as the emergency assistance network (ean) agency for the city of sunnyvale, covering zip codes 94085, 94086, 94087, 94088, and 94089, along with the alviso neighborhood of san jose, zip code 95002. The mission of scs is to prevent homelessness and hunger for low-income families and seniors facing temporary crises. The organization provides financial aid, food assistance, case management, referrals, and other support at no charge to clients. The organization's clients are the homeless, working poor, and seniors or disabled persons living on fixed incomes. The organization serves all ethnic, racial, language, age, and abilities groups. Nothing is more basic than the need for food, shelter, and health care. Scs provides financial aid, food, and other in-kind assistance to low-income families and seniors walking a financial tightrope, helping our neighbors to keep their balance when an unexpected emergency strikes: job loss, reduced hours, uncovered or unaffordable medical expenses. The organization's assistance prevents homelessness, hunger, malnutrition, and untreated medical conditions. Keeping families housed with food on their tables and access to medical care is more cost effective, both in terms of dollars and human lives, than dealing with later problems with more expensive solutions. Scs assisted 8,300 unduplicated individuals in fiscal year 2016-17, which was an increase of 20% over the prior two years. The increase was attributed to expanded outreach, as well as a growing need caused by the soaring costs of living and growing income divide in silicon valley. Based on historical trends in food distributions and financial aid, scs forecasts that families and seniors will come more frequently for food each month, and the need for more than one-time financial assistance and case management will continue. The community's safety net: the organization operates a food distribution center at its location in sunnyvale. Food is supplied primarily by second harvest food bank, local grocery stores, bakeries, churches and individuals. Scs is one of the largest seven "transformer" partners of second harvest food bank. Supplemental food, including proteins such as shelf-stable milk and meats, are funded by cash donations. The organization engages over 2,500 volunteers, enabling scs to have deep connections with the community and to keep costs low. The organization is well known for its innovation and efficiency, distributing over three million pounds of nutritious food and fresh produce annually. Scs accepts donations of household and emergency items that are passed through to clients residing in the community. The organization distributed over $1,000,000 in financial aid in fiscal year 2016-17. The average amount of rental assistance per family has increased to over $1,900 due to rising rents and inadequate public transportation. Financial assistance included payments for rent, rental deposits, utilities, medical, and other emergency bills. Prudent and sustained growth: as a community-based nonprofit, the organization strives to have diversified funding sources, and enjoys growing support from individual, corporate, and foundation donors. Scs prudently adds resources based on sustained funding commitments. Over the last six years scs has piloted nutrition activities and added comprehensive case management for individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Funding for pilot projects and case management comes from corporations and foundations as well as long-term government contracts. Since 2011, scs has collaborated on nutrition programs with el camino healthcare district, palo alto medical foundation, and kaiser permanente to support healthy nutrition and access to health care. As part of the coalition against predatory payday lending, scs piloted financial education and savings programs to help clients become self-sufficient. In 2012, the city of sunnyvale invited scs to launch a new partnership with downtown streets team to assist homeless individuals gain employment and housing. In 2015, scs launched our supportive services for veterans families program, funded by the u. S. Veterans administration, to assist veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness move into stable housing. Scs educates and advocates on issues tied to the agency's mission to prevent homelessness and hunger. The scs leadership team frequently speaks to business, community, and public sector audiences on the needs and trends affecting the most needy in our local community. The organization owns the building at its sole location in sunnyvale. The agency has a mortgage from the city of sunnyvale, with a one-time principal payment of $400,000 due in 2038. In 2014, scs requested forgiveness of all past and future interest on the loan, and the request was granted, in recognition of the organization's unique role as the emergency assistance agency for the most needy in the community. The organization solicits funding for ongoing needs. In fiscal year 2016-17, scs received several grants at the end of the fiscal year for program costs in the following fiscal year. In the prior year, the organization was also awarded a new three-year grant of $150,000 each year, which was reported as one-time income in fiscal year 2015-16. The board of directors and staff of scs have reserved these funds for future program costs. As part of the emergency assistance network (ean), scs was awarded new contracts in 2016-17 for prevention of homelessness, including a two-year contract beginning in 2017-18 to pilot a homelessness prevention system (hps) through private and public sector funding sources.

Community Stories

55 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Helping out at the Sunnyvale Community Services center is always a great experience. The staff are very organized, and after working there several times now, it's easy to see how much the center helps the community.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been on the board and also a volunteer for many, many years. The quality of services and care delivered to our clients is exceptional starting with the staff members and going all the way through our 800+ volunteers. Each client is treated with extreme dignity and the follow through with each client is exceptional. Sunnyvale is very, very fortunate to have this level of care in our community. We work with many other agencies just so we never have to turn anyone away. Everyone is either served by SCS or referred to a sister agency for ongoing assistance. I highly recommend this agency.

1 Marie Bernard

Donor

Rating: 5

Sunnyvale Community Services continues to be one of the best run and most needed nonprofits in Silicon Valley. While the requests for basic assistance continues to grow, the agency has grown community support and volunteer hours to meet those needs.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

Sunnyvale Community Services is always among the highest rated agencies funded by United Way Silicon Valley both for quality of services and management. It stretches every dollar and effectively uses volunteers. SCS has only 7 paid employees, but annual volunteer hours equal those of 11 employees.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Unfortunately, the agency¹s slogan is truer than ever: ³Our Business is Booming, and That¹s Not Good.² As a banker, I look at the numbers. Just four years ago, we spent $390,000 on financial aid for clients; last year, $610,000. Four years ago, we had 750 families in our food programs and gave out $660,000 of food. Now, over 1,300 families participate, and last year, we gave out $1,335,000 of food. All of these increases were possible thanks to generous community and corporate support as well as dedicated volunteers‹all of which keep our overhead expenses under 10%.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I serve on the Board of SCS because it is one of the most efficiently run nonprofit agencies. You don't have to take my word for it. SCS has won prestigious awards for management excellence and outstanding service thanks to a very dedicated, active Board of Directors, exceptional CEO and staff, and dedicated volunteers.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

After retiring from SCS, I have volunteered for over 15 years. I see families that despite working three jobs have trouble making ends meet. One unexpected medical or car repair bill means they can¹t pay their rent or utility bill. Many seniors face staggering medical and prescription bills not covered by Medicare. Without financial aid and food, they face eviction, utility disconnections, and untreated medical problems. I was very moved by an 82 year old woman, who came for help for the first time in her life. She said, "By the time you have to ask for help, you¹re already depressed. Coming to a cheery place with caring people let¹s you keep your dignity."