Tip the Season


Tipping Point Breakfast Honors Poverty-fighting Organizations

As the world economy continues to wobble (and the holiday spirit is deflating faster than a dying dirigible), Tipping Point Community raised spirits (and awarded major moolah) during its 2nd Awards Breakfast.

"Next Step gave me the foundation for a real education," said client and honoree Letteria Fletcher, a high-school dropout who recently received her Masters degree from Holy Names College. "It completely turned my life around."

Founded in 2005 by SF native Daniel Lurie, Tipping Point serves as a one-stop clearinghouse for those who wish to support fully vetted Bay Area poverty fighting organizations.

"As the economy continues to worsen, people are calling us and asking how they can help," said Lurie to the gathered guests. "Last year, we raised $6 million dollars. We are increasing our grants and focusing some $500 thousand of those grants to organizations supporting those who have lost, or on the verge of losing, their jobs."

Lurie also announced Tipping Point is holding a donation match program: Through January 31st, any amount donated will be matched by the Tipping Point Board, dollar for dollar, up to $1 million.

In a mere three and a half years, Tipping Point has raised over $10 million to support 21 of the most effective poverty-fighting organizations in four key areas: Education/Youth Development (including KIPP Bay Area Schools and Guardian Scholars), Employment/Asset Building (including EARN and New Door Ventures), Child/Family Wellness (including Bayview Child Health Center and Canal Alliance) and Homelessness/Housing Assistance (including Homeless Prenatal Program and Shelter Network).

The organization's operating costs are underwritten by the Tipping Board of Directors (including Kate Harbin, Tracy Iseler, Chris James, David Lamond, Ronnie Lott, Gina Peterson, Eric Roberts, Daniel Lurie, Katie Schwab), who on average each contribute $100K annually.

In addition to honoring three of its grantees, Tipping Point also presented Next Step Learning Center, Compass Community Services and Rubicon Programs with $50K each.

Also honored? Board Member Katie Schwab who served as Board President during Tipping Point's first three years.

"It takes real vision and some guts to get involved with, essentially, a start-up grant-making organization," said new Board Chairman Alec Perkins, in a tip of the hat to Katie. "Before its even given out its first grant!"

Considering the heavy-hitting crowd (including Mayor Gavin Newsom and First Lady Jennifer Siebel, former Mayor Willie Brown, Ingrid Tauber and Frank Taforo, Natasha Desterro and David Dolby, Leigh Matthes, Giants poobah Larry Baer, Facebook CFO Gideon Yu, SFMOMA Director Neal Benezra, philanthropist Mimi Haas) which convened for breakfast at the early (and, in my book, ungodly) hour of 7:45 a.m. in the Alexandra Room at the tippy-top of the St. Francis Hotel, folks were in mind to help out some more.

And considering the current stats, thank goodness:

-- Less than 50% of Oakland's public high school students graduate

-- More than 40% of Tenderloin households live on less than $15K per year

--Requests for shelter in San Mateo county are up by more than 50%

--In the past six months, calls to San Francisco's 211 hotline requesting soup kitchen assistance have increased by 92%

--"Our clients call us when they're having problems. But as a grantee, it's rather nerve-wracking to call your funder when you have a problem," said honoree Erica Kisch, Executive Director of Compass Community Services. " Tipping Point not only supports our work but actively engages in helping us solve our problems."

Greg Bell, a former addict who finally found the tools he needed to change his life at Rubicon Services, told the crowd the help he received made him a "two-miracle" man.

"Thanks to Rubicon, I am sober and a custodian at the Lawrence Hall of Science. I love my job!" enthused Bell, who at age fifty finally realized he was both addicted and had no marketable job skills.

"Before joining Rubicon, I used to shake hands with drug dealers and hustlers. Now I have a great job with great benefits -- the same as UC Berkeley professors. And in 2006, I shook the hand of a Nobel Peace Prize winner!"


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