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Step Up Silicon Valley Ignites Community-Driven Change

Step Up Silicon Valley Ignites Community-Driven Change

Imagine a family of four, working full-time to support their two children, making $24,000 a year in Silicon Valley. How do you make ends meet?  Just think about that for a minute…

This is what Silicon Valley is like for the working poor. In Santa Clara County, one in five cannot afford basic necessities each month without financial assistance, according to the Supplemental Poverty Measure. One in five cannot put a meal on the table for their family, or take their children to the doctor when they are ill. These families are not only struggling to make ends meet but also to gain dignity and stability that they have lost along the way.

The number only continues to grow as the seeds of poverty are planted for the next generation.

This is why Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County (CCSCC) founded Step Up Silicon Valley in 2009 as a community collaborative to reduce poverty and increase economic opportunity in Santa Clara County. Since its inception, Step Up has transformed from a series of taskforces tackling various issue areas of poverty into a social innovation network and anti-poverty laboratory that ignites ideas and turns them into action.

We are best known in the community as a systems change incubator and catalyst of disruptive social innovations.  Since our launch, CCSCC has incubated several social innovative strategies. Among these are Pay for Success, which resulted in County approval to develop programs focused on chronic homelessness and chronic mental health; Franklin-McKinley Children’s Initiative; Franklin-McKinley Women’s Initiative; 1000 Out of Poverty; and College Savings Circle.

Step Up Silicon Valley offers multiple ways for the community to become aware and engaged to take action against poverty in our community. Sign up to host a Community Action Poverty Simulation, volunteer with one of our network partners, and learn more about our poverty initiatives and how you can contribute to the movement against poverty in Silicon Valley.

To learn more about Step Up Silicon Valley, contact Almaz Negash, Senior Managing Director at anegash@stepupsv.org.

Poverty in Santa Clara County 

  • 2,800 people in Santa Clara County experience persistent homelessness and are the most frequent users of public services in a given year.
  • The Bay Area has one of the highest median household incomes in the US, but also has a widening gap between high and low earners.
  • Only 44% of residents can afford to buy a first-time home.
  • 3% of Santa Clara County residents with some college education live in poverty.
  • 823 million meals are required daily to feed low-income families, but due to availability and costs, 204 million meals are still needed.
  • 1% of residents between the ages of 35-49 are uninsured.

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