Announcement regarding SVCN’s Nonprofit Ally Award
Last week, nonprofits came together to fundraise for SVCN, share some lighthearted moments, and, most importantly, honor nonprofits, nonprofit leaders, and nonprofit allies for their powerful work over the last very difficult seven months.
Unfortunately, this week, we must withdraw the Nonprofit Ally Award that SVCN gave to the Silicon Valley Organization (SVO).
Many of you have seen by now the image of the SVO webpage depicting Black protesters on a street surrounded by clouds of tear gas entitled “District 6 Do You Really Want To Sign On To This?” The webpage image seeks to stoke the flames of racial fears and resentments by implying that a candidate’s stance on policing reform will result in young Black men swarming the streets of Willow Glen or the Rose Garden.
This comes on the heels of SVO and affiliated organizations California Apartment Association and the California Association of Realtors distributing a campaign mailer that implies that a San José City Council candidate would eliminate single-family neighborhoods. The mailer is right out of the playbook of real estate agents who have engaged in racist fear-mongering in the Bay Area throughout the past century. The piece employs abhorrent tactics like showing large gray-scale residential “towers” next to cheerily-colored single-family homes—bringing to bear all the false and racist stereotypes about rental housing and more affordable housing and the individuals and families who live there.
SVCN created the Nonprofit Ally Award to honor the work of for-profit or governmental organizations and affiliated individuals that supports nonprofits and the communities they serve. SVCN nominated SVO for this award because its CEO Matt Mahood worked with us for several months to get PPE for nonprofit essential workers when our nonprofit community was unable to get protective gear anywhere else, including from any level of government.
However, actions like publishing a racist webpage and mailer—as well as SVO’s history of producing campaign ads with racist connotations (for which SVO has been forced to issues apologies in the past)—are inconsistent with SVCN’s values and the spirit of this award. As an alliance of community-based organizations, SVCN works every day to support nonprofits in improving the lives and well-being of all community members, especially those who are affected most by systemic racism and poverty. Therefore, SVCN is withdrawing the award to SVO and resigning as a SVO member organization.
SVO has apologized for the webpage image, but given the organization’s history of similar deplorable behavior, frankly, an apology isn’t sufficient. As a SVO member organization, we stand with other nonprofit members in calling for true accountability as well as a demonstrated commitment to culture change at every level of the organization.
To reiterate SVCN’s racial equity, diversity, and inclusion philosophy and pledge:
SVCN is committed to supporting equity, justice, inclusion, and the opportunity to thrive, for all. SVCN recognizes that existing systems of power give privilege and access to resources and lead to inequities, including race-based inequities, and oppression. This is true in nonprofit organizations as it is in other institutions. We commit to using diversity, equity, and inclusion values and practices in our business and to bring awareness of and capacity to embrace and effectuate those values in our nonprofit alliance. We also pledge to champion these values in public and private-sector arenas.