Seattle Foundation Blog

Seattle International Foundation Shifts to New Vision

After a decade of working to decrease poverty globally, SIF will focus on Central America


December 07, 2018

Guest post by Kathleen Steffen, Deputy Director, Seattle International Foundation

Seattle International Foundation (SIF) is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, and with it, a change in direction. After a thorough strategic planning process in 2018, SIF has shifted its strategy to focus efforts entirely on Central America moving forward.

With a vision of equitable, peaceful and prosperous societies in Central America, SIF will support organizations and initiatives that strengthen good governance and rule of law, promote equity, and reduce displacement and forced migration in the region. In addition to this grantmaking portfolio, SIF will continue to implement our three high-impact programs in the region: The Central America Donors Forum, The Central America and Mexico Youth Fund, and Centroamérica Adelante. 

SIF was founded in 2008 by Seattleites Bill and Paula Clapp as a supporting organization to Seattle Foundation to increase and enhance international philanthropy and development from the Pacific Northwest. Support for Central America has always been part of our dual mission that also involved strengthening the Washington-based international nonprofit community, and advising philanthropists and companies on international philanthropy. 

We are incredibly proud of our role in strengthening the global philanthropy landscape in Seattle. Over the years we have led philanthropist and corporate donor delegations to Rwanda, India, Vietnam, Bolivia and Cuba; developed international programming for corporate social responsibility departments; organized local events on international development; provided fiscal sponsorship to great causes pursuing nonprofit status; and advised and facilitated international grants for passionate philanthropists. We will continue to carry out many of these activities, but with a focus on Central America, building on what we’ve learned to support the region we care so deeply about. 

Part of this shift means transitioning a few pillar activities to longtime partners committed to international philanthropy. Seattle International Foundation has been a key partner in executing international grants for Seattle Foundation philanthropists using their Donor Advised Funds. SIF will continue to provide this service through 2019 and will work with Seattle Foundation to develop a robust transition plan to support ongoing grantmaking to internationally-based organizations. SIF will continue to be a close partner to distribute grants by Seattle Foundation philanthropists to nonprofit organizations in Central American countries. 

SIF has also transitioned the leadership of the annual Women of the World event to Global Washington. Passing the baton on some of our local efforts will allow our team to increase our impact in Central America. In this year alone, SIF launched a new Independent Journalism Fund and added staff in Washington, D.C., to expand our efforts to increase U.S. support and cooperation for the region.

Central America faces a rising wave of challenges that threaten peace and prosperity in the region: economic uncertainty, political instability, rampant violence, mass migrations, natural disasters and inadequate rule of law, to name a few. Although the challenges are formidable, SIF believes the region holds unprecedented opportunities for deep political and social transformations through strengthening good governance, promoting equity and reducing displacement and forced migration. 

We are proud to call Seattle home and we will remain an active member of the local philanthropic community. While we deepen our commitment to Central America, we also commit to being an active partner and voice for Central America in Seattle. 

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