The Inaugural Make It Better Foundation Bay Area Philanthropy Awards: Celebrating Leaders in Healthcare, the Environment and Social Services

philanthropy awards

“Effectiveness, leadership, excellence, scalability — but most of all it is about lives made better.” These inspirational words flashed on the screen in the impactful and emotional video montage that kicked off the  Make It Better Foundation 2021 Bay Area Philanthropy Awards. The inaugural celebration, presented by the Make It Better Foundation and Make It Better Media Group’s Marin Magazine, and sponsored by the Marin Community Foundation, honored three Bay Area nonprofits whose work has made a tremendous impact: Clinic By The Bay, The Assistance League of Diablo Valley and Amazon Watch.

Speaking from the Alexandrite Suite at the Casa Madrona Hotel and Spa in Sausalito, where the event was broadcasted live, Make It Better Media founder and Chief Visionary Officer Susan Noyes got the proceedings underway. “Make It Better Foundation’s mission is to identify and amplify the work of outstanding nonprofits, while growing a network of well-informed engaged philanthropists and social entrepreneurs and sponsors,” she said.

After the semifinalist nonprofits in the Bay Area were announced — the Conservation Corps North Bay, Enriching Lives through Music, George Mark Children’s House, Giants Community Fund, Halleck Creek Ranch, Ocean Voyages Institute and The Climate Center — each winner was presented with an award. The award package included a cash gift, a professionally produced webinar promotion package and more resources for the nonprofit winners.

Health and Wellness Award: Clinic by the Bay

Clinic by the Bay, founded in 2010, provides free, volunteer-driven healthcare to those without insurance. Simply put, their mission is “to understand and serve, with dignity and respect, the health and wellness needs of the medically underserved in the San Francisco Bay Area.” 

“We call ourselves the safety net of the safety net system, as our patients are the individuals who truly fall through the cracks,” said Clinic by the Bay Executive Director Sarah Gordon in her acceptance speech. “We’re truly grateful for this amazing gift from the Make It Better Foundation. It will go incredibly far to help serve our patients in need.” 

Social Services Award: Assistance League of Diablo Valley

Founded in 1967, Assistance League of Diablo Valley’s mission is to improve the lives of residents in Bay Area communities through their hands-on program Operation School Bell, funding scholarships and directly addressing community needs. Their main fundraising is done through the Assistance League Thrift Shop at the Way Side Inn in Lafayette

“I can’t thank the Make It Better Foundation enough,” said Assistance League of Diablo Valley President Suzy Geldan. “We’re excited and thrilled to accept this award. We look forward to working with the Make It Better Foundation to help spread the word about what we do.”

Environment Award: Amazon Watch

Improving the lives of indigenous peoples of the Amazon Basin is the mission of Amazon Watch, founded in 1996. The nonprofit partners with indigenous and environmental organizations to promote corporate accountability and preserve the ecological systems and beauty of the Amazon rainforest.


“Thank you to the Make It Better Foundation for this recognition,” said Amazon Watch Executive Director Leila Salazar-López. “Indigenous peoples are the best protectors of the rainforest, and that’s why we work together with them to protect and defend indigenous rights, lives and territories. The Amazon rainforest is the largest and most biodiverse tropical rainforest on our planet. It is life, and it is also critical for our global climate.”


For more on Better


richard wright

Richard Wright is a writer from Marin whose work has appeared in San Francisco Magazine, SOMA, 944, The Olympian and numerous online publications. He has an MFA from St. Mary’s College of California in creative writing and lives in Sausalito with his wife, Stephanie.