playmakers

50 Weeks. 50 Grants. 50 Playmakers
The 50 Fund’s Playmakers program recognized the herculean efforts of community-based Bay Area nonprofits and the people who make those impacts possible.
Get inspired by their stories.

Our 38th 50 Fund Playmaker is SEO Scholars San Francisco. SEO Scholars works to develop the essential academic skills in motivated low-income public high school students so they will graduate from competitive four-year colleges and become high-impact contributors to their communities. SEO Scholars have recognized Adam Karr, who founded the San Francisco office of SEO Scholars. A first-generation graduate of college himself, Adam has made a life-long commitment to creating opportunities for youth with limited resources.

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Our 37th Playmaker and second Rookie Playmaker is Ricardo Ramirez and the California Youth ConnectionCalifornia Youth Connection is a youth-led organization that develops leaders who empower each other and their communities to transform the foster care system through legislative and policy change. Their Playmaker grant will be used to support CYC’s Foster Youth Museum and their centerpiece exhibit Lost Childhoods. They have recognized Ricardo Ramirez, age 20, who has been essential to the development of the Foster Youth Museum.

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The 36th Playmaker of the 50 Fund, the mission of the Ecology Center is to inspire and build a sustainable, healthy and just future for the East Bay and beyond. They have recognized Dante Kaleo Alnas-Benson as their Playmaker and our first Rookie Playmaker. Dante joined the Ecology Center as a teen participant four years ago, and was drawn to the issue of health disparities and diet-related diseases that disproportionally affect low-income communities.

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Our 35th 50 Fund Playmaker is 826 Valencia, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting under-resourced students ages 6-18 with their creative and expository writing skills, as well as helping teachers inspire their student to write. 826 Valencia recognized Bita Nazarian as their Playmaker, Executive Director, who has grown the organization in meaningful ways, including the expansion to a second center in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco. Bita was the first in her family to go to college, an opportunity that opened doors for her that she is passionate about opening for all under-resourced youth in San Francisco.

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Our 34th 50 Fund Playmaker is Good Karma Bikes, an organization that transforms lives through the medium of bicycles. Through their innovative model, they transform lives of disenfranchised and at-risk youth while improving the environment. Good Karma Bikes recognized their CEO James T. Gardner, PhD who began helping homeless people in downtown San Jose fix their bicycles on the weekends back in 2008. Discovering an enormous need, Dr. Gardner began to teach homeless people how to repair their bikes themselves, and they in turn taught others. From there, he started Good Karma Bikes to reach out to aged-out foster youth and give them a greater chance at a path towards greater education.

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Our 33rd Playmaker is JW House, a place that keeps families together during medical crisis by offering a welcoming home close to the hospital and by providing a caring and compassionate environment that inspires hope. They have recognized Anne-Marie Knapen as their playmaker, the mother of Jan Willem “JW” Knapen for whom JW House is named. JW was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor at age 14. JW and his mom both realized that he would not live to see the fulfillment of his vision, and yet they fought on to create the house for complete strangers who would be going through experiences similar to theirs. 

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