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As part of a proactive effort to address the cross-cultural barriers that arise in culturally and ethnically diverse communities, in 2009 Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) developed a grant program called Bridging the Cultural Gap. With a focus on using cultural tactics to move hearts and minds in support of immigrant integration, the program was focused expressly on supporting projects that allowed for Silicon Valley residents to come together to discuss shared values and concerns related to immigration. Between 2009 and 2014, SVCF invested $2.4 million in 12 projects that used cultural tactics such as dialogue, film, photography and storytelling to deepen relationships and cross-cultural understanding throughout San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. Over the course of five years, these grantees, with support from SVCF, focused their activities on identifying and cementing shared values between immigrants and receiving communities, as well as building relationships within and across various communities in the region.
In early 2013, with Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) looming on the horizon, Silicon Valley Community Foundation launched a technology innovation project to support the technology needs and aspirations of immigration legal services providers in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties in California. The effort was envisioned as an opportunity to engage a cohort of agencies in a unique co-creation process exploring the use of technology to enhance citizenship and naturalization services for immigrants in Silicon Valley.