Our Mission:


We help small community-focused nonprofits fulfill their missions faster with long-term, capacity building grants.


The Mission District Cohort

For our first Bay Area Cohort, we are partnering with three organizations making a difference in San Francisco’s Mission District and beyond.

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Asian Women’s Shelter
Working to eliminate domestic violence by promoting the social, economic and political self-determination of women.

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First Graduate
Helping students become the first in their families to graduate from college ready to pursue meaningful careers.

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La Cocina
Working to solve problems of equity in business ownership for women, immigrants and people of color.


The Oakland Cohort

By prioritizing community-born and led organizations, KBF Cohorts naturally tackle the most pressing issues facing a specific community. Our second Bay Area Cohort in Oakland is no exception.

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East Oakland Boxing Association
A youth development organization dedicated to empowering underserved youth in Oakland.

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Working to address the exploitation of young people in Oakland, Alameda County, and throughout the state of CA.

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Planting Justice
Empowering people impacted by mass incarceration and other social inequities with skills and resources.


The Bayview Hunters Point Cohort

To round out our first year of grant-making in the Bay Area, KBF is proud to partner with three innovative nonprofits located in culturally rich and uniquely San Franciscan neighborhoods.

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Open Door Legal
Pioneering the country’s first system of universal access to legal help.

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Old Skool Cafe
Nonprofit supper club run by at-risk youth offering a global soul food menu in a 1940s-inspired setting.

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Homeless Children’s Network
Working collaboratively with over 52 providers to end homelessness and poverty.


Our Community

We rely on a participatory grant-making model because community leaders are the experts on what their community needs. With the aid of a community Advisory Committee, KBF creates a Cohort by grouping nonprofits with supportive missions from inside the same community. Once built, the Cohort decides which grants KBF funds and which ones can be made stronger with their expert input.


Deep expertise 

Our Cohorts decide which grants get funded because they are nonprofit experts and members of the benefiting community. 


Capacity Focused

Our goal is to help nonprofits become self-sustaining by focusing our grant funds on capacity and sustained growth. 

LOng-term commitment 

We remain financially committed to our Cohorts for five-year terms with our grants designed to flex over time. 


Clustered impact

By focusing on one local community at a time, we are helping to create a robust network of thriving nonprofit services and leaders.

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Our History

Ken Birdwell, KBF's founder, has been a nonprofit volunteer, employee, board member, and donor. Through his 20+ years of nonprofit experience, he has seen firsthand how well-intentioned programmatic grants can stunt a nonprofit's success. Dissatisfied with the status quo, Ken began testing an alternative approach. After ten years of experimentation with three Seattle area nonprofits, he has landed on a grant-making model that funds long-term, capacity building grants, with community support built-in.

Learn more about the Seattle area nonprofits Ken has been working with for the past ten years. 



August 2018

"As nonprofits, we don’t often get the opportunity to fail forward and support each other in the process. The experience of being in a Cohort of nonprofits all supported by a philanthropist who is interested in giving us space and resources to innovate under our own terms is so valuable for our sustainability and effectiveness.

In my view, this is how all philanthropists should view nonprofits—as experts in their field who need resources to grow."

Trish Millines Dziko / Co-founder & Executive Director of  TAF (Technology Access Foundation)



Get Involved


Introduce your nonprofit

Learn more about our partner profile and let us know if we're a fit. 

Introduce yourself

We're always happy to meet someone who shares our vision. 

Share your thoughts

Knowing is the first step. Share your ideas on how we can do better.