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A Blueprint to Building a New Model of Community Care

By Guest Author December 2, 2021

By: Jacob Bindman, Co-founder & Chief Program Officer at SF New Deal; Jenais Zarlin, Founding Member & Chief Operating Officer at SF New Deal

SF New Deal began with a vision of San Francisco as a world class city that provides an abundance of support, opportunity, dignity, respect, and appreciation for small businesses and neighbors in need. Although much of our work over the past year and a half has focused on providing immediate support to communities acutely impacted by the pandemic, we’re on a mission to build a thriving San Francisco in the months and years ahead.
SF New Deal launched in March 2020 as a rapid response to the COVID pandemic in San Francisco. We arrived and scaled with urgency, recognizing the impact that the first shelter order would have on small businesses and under-resourced residents.

Our first program used private funds to pay restaurants to make meals for food-insecure San Franciscans who we reached through existing networks of care built by long-serving community-based organizations. In the early weeks of our existence, we were met with an overwhelming response for the services we were providing, and from members of our community—from all walks of life—who were eager to help. It required that we built and scaled systems quickly so that diverse stakeholders and partners, including donors and volunteers, community based organization partners, and restaurants, had accessible and transparent access to the information they needed. We made a “playbook” outlining our systems and platforms and shared it so that our program model could be duplicated in other areas. With our guidance, SF New Deal style programs launched in Salt Lake City, Juneau, and Napa.

Two people boxing up meals in a kitchen
Chef Gianina Serrano and her team at Sixth Course in the Mission prepare meals to be delivered to the community across San Francisco, May 2020. Photo credit: Molly DeCoudreaux

Our organization grew at a rapid pace, providing over 50,000 meals weekly. Yet, we have found the strength of our team sits beyond our domain expertise of community feeding, and into our ability to serve as a facilitator and mediator between diverse stakeholders in San Francisco. Through the programs we have launched, we have found that by building trusted partnerships between small businesses, the government, community-based organizations, and residents, we are able to find solutions that address San Francisco’s most persistent and entrenched challenges. It’s our collective responsibility to build the city we all wish to be a part of; no single agency, organization, or individual can do it alone.

The Impact of Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships

Each new program our team launches relies upon the collective impact and organizing power of a number of organizations and collaborators. Our ability to scale and catalyze meaningful impact has depended on cultivating trusted partnerships with long-serving community-based organizations (CBOs) that have been working for decades in the service of under-resourced residents across the city. Their work and in-depth knowledge of the communities they serve have fostered critical networks of care.

This past spring, we launched a program with the Homeless Prenatal Program (HPP), an inspiring organization that has served San Francisco for 30 years using the pivotal moment of pregnancy and parenthood as an opportunity to partner with families and break the cycle of childhood poverty. With support from private funders, we provided over 12,000 prepared meals to more than 800 families via Homeless Prenatal’s weekly pantry and produce distribution. SF New Deal partnered with six small businesses to serve the HPP community, which, in total, received over $130,000 in financial relief, which helped them keep their doors open and workers employed.

Our partnership with HPP is just one example of the multi-stakeholder partnerships we facilitate, which have contributed to our impact to date of more than $32 million disbursed to 615 local small businesses.

Supporting Small Businesses And Workforce Development

Across SF New Deal’s programs, we balance the need to address the symptoms of inequity that have long plagued San Francisco, while simultaneously building community partnerships and engaging in dialogue to address the root causes of injustice.

Since the beginning, we have understood that the pandemic exacerbated pre-existing inequities. It was this reality that pushed us to grow beyond community feeding programs and launch a new division focused on supporting small businesses that addresses the root challenges faced by business owners and their workers in San Francisco.

We introduced our $1 million microgrant debt relief program, awarding 401 small businesses of all kinds with $2,500 grants. We launched two distinct worker-focused pilots, a Spanish and English language pilot, and a management training program, to strengthen teams and internal cultures where turnover and employee shortages were rampant and opportunities for advancement scarce. We created a job board to connect underemployed community members with jobs at small businesses.

Two people standing in a doorway smiling
Clara Lee and Eddo Kim are the owners of Queens Korean Superette, Queens is one of the 401 small businesses that received a $2,500 debt relief microgrant from SF New Deal in 2021. Photo credit: Alanna Hale

Through our work engaging with small businesses and neighbors in need, we have come to more greatly appreciate the intersectional nature of so many of San Francisco’s most persistent challenges. It’s through this lens that our team is supporting small businesses that add so much vibrancy and unique identity to our neighborhoods. Helping small businesses succeed means confronting and addressing the root causes of inequity in San Francisco.

From the beginning, our approach has relied upon the collective momentum of collaborative partnerships. Our ability to engage and launch innovative programs depends on the community investing alongside us into the future of San Francisco. Our path to impact requires an ongoing collective commitment from stakeholders across the city that we are eager to sustain and build upon in the years ahead.

While many of the challenges that San Francisco is currently grappling with were not introduced through the pandemic, this past year and a half has made clear that meaningful, lasting, and effective solutions require collective buy-in. Our team is committed to catalyzing long-term change and addressing the systemic inequities that impact so many in our city — but we can’t do it alone. We need your help and collaboration.

Learn how other nonprofits have shifted their strategy. is proud to partner with SF New Deal in their use of technology for their mission to build a thriving San Francisco

About the Authors

Jacob Bindman, Co-founder & Chief Program Officer at SF New Deal
Jacob Bindman
Co-founder & Chief Program Officer at SF New Deal
Jacob leads SF New Deal’s service operations in community feeding and the recently launched small business support service team. He has more than a decade of experience in events and operations focused on food, community, and hospitality. In addition to leading SF New Deal’s programs, Jacob is the Director of Operations for Four One Nine, an arts and community-centered events space in SOMA. Jacob is proud to have been born and raised in San Francisco.
Jenais Zarlin, Founding Member & Chief Operating Officer at SF New Deal
Jenais Zarlin
Founding Member & Chief Operating Officer at SF New Deal
Jenais leads SF New Deal’s internal operations that support the organization’s ability to scale for impact. Her 15+ years of professional experience combine social impact, marketing, and business development in support of startups and nonprofits. Jenais was born and raised in Northern California.