New Research Highlights Top Nonprofits Making a Difference in San Francisco Bay Area Education and Bay Area Arts and Culture

As the Giving Season Heats Up, Donors Are Urged to Research before They Give
Release date: December 18, 2012

Washington, D.C.—Philanthropedia, a division of leading nonprofit information provider GuideStar, today announced new rankings of the top 17 nonprofits working in education in the San Francisco Bay Area and the top 21 nonprofits working in the field of arts and culture, also in the Bay Area. The rankings are a re-evaluation of initial research presented in 2010 and are based on new in-depth surveys and conversations with hundreds of experts, including academics, funders, grantmakers, policy makers, consultants, etc., in the respective focus areas. The rankings identify the nonprofits having the most impact in their particular mission focus areas.

"It's the time of year, known as the 'giving season,' when many Americans are trying to find the best charities to support with their hard-earned money," said Erinn Andrews, GuideStar's senior director of nonprofit strategy and the original chief operating officer of Philanthropedia. "People can use Philanthropedia rankings to ensure that they maximize the impact of their donations by giving to nonprofits having the highest impact in their particular fields, as identified by top experts."

High-Impact Education Nonprofits in San Francisco/Bay Area, California

As of 2011, California's high school dropout rate was 18.2 percent, according to San Francisco's NBC affiliate. This trend is more drastic in the San Francisco Bay Area. For example, only 53 percent of Oakland's high school students graduate in four years. The San Francisco Bay Area is notable for the enormous number of nonprofits working in the education space.

Over the past two months, Philanthropedia surveyed 99 experts working in the field of education, with an average of 19 years of work experience in the field, to identify the organizations that were making the biggest positive impact on a local level. Bay Area education experts were asked to recommend nonprofits serving pre-K–high school students working in a variety of capacities in the sector. These include after-school programming, child development, college preparation, curriculum development, data collection, literacy, low-performing schools, parental involvement, school readiness, school reform, standards, summer programming, the achievement gap, and more. Organizations recommended could approach the issue through direct service, advocacy, research, or school instruction.

These experts reviewed 162 organizations and identified 17 as performing the best when it comes to meeting their missions:

  1. New Teacher Center
  2. Aspire Public Schools
  3. College Track
  4. Education Pioneers
  5. Rocketship Education
  6. Partners in School Innovation
  7. Children Now (tied for 7)
    Lighthouse Community Charter School
  8. First Graduate
  9. KIPP Bay Area Schools
  10. Downtown College Prep
  11. Silicon Valley Education Foundation
  12. Aim High (tied for 12)
    Juma Ventures (tied for 12)
  13. Summer Search
  14. BUILD
  15. Beyond 12

To learn more about each organization, meet the experts, and read the reviews, please visit

High-Impact Arts and Culture Nonprofits in San Francisco/Bay Area, California

In the 1960s, there was an explosion of nonprofit arts organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 1961, before the birth of the national Endowment for the Arts, San Francisco passed a law to require part of the hotel tax to go to funding the arts. Over time, each Bay Area region evolved to have different kinds of arts and culture groups across all disciplines, styles, and ethnicities: jazz, classical, folk, performing arts, choreography, visual arts, literary arts, poetry, film, video, and so on. In fact, at one point, the San Francisco Bay Area was second only to New York in terms of having the largest number of dance companies in the country. With decades of support and development, the vibrancy and variety among the arts in the Bay Area has led to a unique texture in the cultural fabric of this region. Today there are hundreds of arts and culture nonprofits, of all sizes and varieties, all across the Bay Area.

To help identify the top nonprofits focusing on this mission, over the past two months Philanthropedia surveyed 87 experts working in the field with an average of 22 years of work experience to identify those organizations that were making the biggest positive impact in local arts and culture. Experts were asked to recommend up to four nonprofit organizations making a significant impact in the sector. They were also asked to recommend up to two promising startup organizations in the sector. Experts were encouraged to consider a variety of nonprofits touching on many arts disciplines and target audiences. Areas of focus could include developing or producing new work, supporting artists directly, exhibition and performance, increasing arts and culture access, and preserving and promoting traditional culture. Organizations ranged across various types of nonprofits including traditional arts and culture organizations, funders, educators, and policy and advocacy organizations.

The experts reviewed 126 organizations and identified 21 top nonprofits making an impact:

  1. Intersection for the Arts
  2. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
  3. Berkeley Repertory Theatre
  4. Oakland Museum of California
  5. Theatre Bay Area
  6. Youth Speaks
  7. San Francisco Symphony
  8. Southern Exposure
  9. CounterPULSE
  10. SFJAZZ
  11. Axis Dance Company (AXIS)
  12. San Jose Museum of Art
  13. Dancers' Group
  14. Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana de San Jose (MACLA)
  15. TheatreWorks
  16. Z Space Studio (Z Space)
  17. Queer Cultural Center
  18. Zero1&The Art and Technology Network
  19. Community Music Center (CMC)
  20. San Francisco Performances
  21. Root Division

To learn more about each organization, meet the experts, and read the experts’ reviews, please visit:

For the complete list of Philanthropedia rankings, visit For more information about Philanthropedia's ranking methodology, please visit:

About Philanthropedia

Philanthropedia,, is an online resource for donors who want to make a bigger difference with their charitable giving. Philanthropedia was founded on the belief that experts working in the field, such as foundation professionals, researchers, and nonprofit senior staff, are best suited to evaluate nonprofits in a more holistic way. In April 2011, Philanthropedia was acquired by GuideStar.

About GuideStar

GuideStar,, connects people and organizations with information on the programs and finances of more than 1.8 million IRS-recognized nonprofits. GuideStar serves a wide audience inside and outside the nonprofit sector, including individual donors, nonprofit leaders, grantmakers, government officials, academic researchers, and the media.

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