The Partnership for the Bay’s Future Launches Breakthrough Grants Program

The Partnership for the Bay’s Future is pleased to announce the launch of the Breakthrough Grants, a program to help communities pass equitable housing policy. Selected local governments will receive a dynamic, mission-driven fellow who will work on community-driven local policy in affordable housing production and preservation. The Partnership will also provide two years of grant funding to community partners to engage and activate the local community. The whole Breakthrough Grant cohort will have access to a flexible pool of funding for technical assistance to meet their policy goals. The value of this support is about $500,000 per jurisdiction. 

The Breakthrough Grants, managed by the San Francisco Foundation, is a cohort program of Bay Area local governments interested in catalyzing policy change to preserve existing affordable housing and create new affordable units. Up to ten jurisdictions will be selected to be a part of the two-year program. Applications may be submitted HERE.

“We are excited to announce the Breakthrough Grants during affordable housing month,” said Aysha Pamukcu, Policy Fund Initiative Officer for the Partnership for the Bay’s Future. “Housing affordability and stability is an issue for everyone in the Bay Area, and it is particularly acute for communities of color and those who earn low incomes. This program will help accelerate housing security and a more inclusive economy for all.” 

Applications are due July 30, 2021, and awards will be announced in the Fall. 

What are some example Breakthrough Grant policies?  

  • Developing and implementing a Housing Element that demonstrates the jurisdiction is affirmatively furthering fair housing, engaging community, and centering the voices of residents at risk of displacement 
  • Leveraging federal funding to sustain COVID-era housing policies, such as using motels, tiny homes and other spaces to provide housing 
  • Working with faith-based organizations to allow for greater. flexibility in building housing on religious land  
  • Supporting community land trusts through developing collective acquisition processes   
  • Developing and implementing a workplan to leverage public lands for affordable housing.  
  • Passing a Community or Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (COPA/TOPA)  

Find more potential policies HERE.

Support to apply for the Breakthrough Grants 

The Policy Fund is offering technical assistance to jurisdictions that would like support in developing their Breakthrough Grant applications. These grants will provide funding to a jurisdiction to work with consultants on developing a competitive Breakthrough Grant proposal. If your jurisdiction does not have a consultant or community partner identified, contact the Policy Fund for guidance. You can request application support HERE

To learn more about the Breakthrough Grants, register for our information session on June 2 at noon and visit our website at HERE.

 Challenge Grant partners share about their experience 

 The Policy Fund currently administers the Challenge Grants, which is a cohort-based program that enables local policy change in tenant protection and affordable housing preservation. Challenge Grant teams across the Bay Area shared some of the impact the program has had on their housing efforts. 

“We were awarded a Challenge Grant last year, which placed a fellow within our department and has added capacity we need to address some of the root causes of the affordability crisis in our community,” said Rachel Horst, Housing Project Manager, City of East Palo Alto. “Our fellow provides critical support to our policy priorities and partnership with community organizations.” 

“The work has moved forward thanks to the core team,” said Aboubacar “Asn” Ndiaye, San Jose Challenge Grant Fellow. “It has built a stronger partnership between government staff and community, which means we can craft equity-centered policy like the Citywide Anti-Displacement Strategy. The other thing that has worked really well is having a strong fellow cohort: being connected to other jurisdictions who are going through similar challenges has helped us troubleshoot and share resources.” 

“The Challenge Grant program gave us a new opportunity to center community voice in the policy-making process,” said Leslie Gordon, Program Manager of Equitable Development at Urban Habitat. “The Bay Area 4 All Preservation Table is made up of grassroots organizations, like ACCE, APEN, CJJC, and OakCLT, so all of our work is rooted in their members’ lived experiences and ideas about how to transform the housing system to make it work for BIPOC, immigrant, and low-income communities.” 

Interested in the Breakthrough Grant program and have questions? Email