Rick Williams, Sobrato Family Foundation


Twitter = @sobrato_org

Rick Williams is the CEO of the Sobrato Family Foundation, based in Cupertino, CA, which is focused on building a thriving Silicon Valley, through its business and philanthropic leadership. The Sobrato Family Foundation is a place-based grant maker that invests in organizations seeking to make a social impact in the tri-county area of Silicon Valley. They are specifically focused on issues promoting education and economic opportunity. Since 1996, they have donated around $315 in cash and real estate holdings through Sobrato Philanthropies. 

Prior to being hired by Sobrato Family Foundation in 2012, Rick served as the Director of the Asset Funders Network, a community of foundations and grantmakers advancing programs on economic opportunity. He has also served as the National Programs Director for the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, where he managed all the grantmaking priorities for the foundation. Rick has over 30 years of experience in the social, public, and philanthropic sectors, implementing local and statewide initiatives, and building organizational capacity. 

Today, Rick joins us to discuss the strategic grantmaking of the Sobrato Family Foundation, the challenges specific to the Silicon Valley region, how they are responding to the community, and how they are using philanthropy as a tool for change. This is a great and inspirational conversation. 


In this interview, we discuss:

  1. What it means to be a part of the Silicon Valley community, and the particular issues and challenges inherent in the region. (5:00)
  2. Place-based giving strategies, and looking at the full community in a systemic manner. (8:30)
  3. How to be responsive and help move the needle. (12:00)
  4. Why they are adopting the entrepreneurial spirit, and focusing on impact and scale. (18:15)
  5. The idea of rebuilding and redefining a sense of community, and recreating a sense of connectedness. (29:00)
  6. "How do we care enough as a society to ensure that everyone is getting access to the same opportunities?" (31:15)


"Philanthropy is looking for mechanisms to build sustainable models"  


  1. About Sobrato Family Foundation 
  2. Article on Rick in Los Gatos Magazine
  3. Article on the Sobrato Family Foundation in ABC News.
  4. Rick speaking at the Thrive Alliance Quarterly Forum (on YouTube)
  5. "Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis" by Robert Putnam (on Amazon)


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