Jefferson Award Winner Brings Giving 'Full Circle'By Allen Martin

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) When a tech entrepreneur wanted to turn his efforts to the non-profit world, he — of course — launched his own start-up non-profit. And that brought giving back “Full Circle.”

Josh Becker had a law degree and an MBA from Stanford, a career in venture capital and tech start-ups, but he wanted to focus on what he really cares about.

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“I’m passionate about issues like education, and the environment and closing the income gap,” he explained. “What I realized over time was a lot of my peers were passionate about those issues too.”

But he says they didn’t really know how to help.

“I thought, you know, if we could bring these people together and really build a community of engagement where we would pool together our time and our money and our social networks.. that together we could do so much more,” he said.

So 15 years ago, Becker started the Full Circle Fund focusing on economic opportunity, education, the environment, and healthcare. He found non-profit organizations that needed help, then recruited people and companies he knew wanted to provide it. Then he began matching grant money and volunteers with the expertise to the non-profits in need.

“Now 15 years later we’ve given away millions of dollars, but more importantly we’ve worked with over a hundred non-profits in the Bay Area and given them over 100,000 volunteer hours,” he reported.

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Recently, Full Circle teamed up with Defy Ventures and The Last Mile Project, teaching business skills to prison inmates.

Becker said, “We did the first ever business pitch competition in a state prison and it was absolutely transformative, absolutely, for us — for people who participated, let alone hearing good ideas. People want to start reasonable business.”

Full Circle has also helped San Francisco’s Children’s Council, which helps parents find qualified child care. The Council was looking to improve its website, and a team from Full Circle Fund helped come up with a plan.

“(They) really helped us see through parents’ eyes what would make accessing child care on line easy and the best experience possible,” said Deputy Director Michael Williams.

For Becker, the past 15 years have certainly been rewarding.

“But there’s still a lot more to do and we’re excited to keep working!” he said.

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So for connecting non-profits with companies and individuals looking to make a difference, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Josh Becker.