Established in 2019, the William J. Zellerbach Award for Social Change (WJZ Award) honors the legacy of William J. Zellerbach, who served as the foundation’s Board Chair from 1960 until his death in 2017. The WJZ Award recognizes Bay Area organizations that are developing visionary approaches to advance social justice and address the pressing needs faced by communities throughout the Bay Area. Whether a pilot project or a new organization, the award seeks to recognize innovative efforts that have the potential for sustainable and replicable systems change in our region and beyond. 

To be eligible, nominees must be 501c3 public charities or fiscally sponsored organizations located in and serving San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, Marin, Sonoma, and/or Napa county. Each year, a unique theme or sector will be highlighted and award criteria will change accordingly.

The next application period is February 3 - March 31, 2020. 


The 2020 WJZ Award will recognize a Bay Area organization that is using arts and/or culture as a key strategy in their broader efforts to advance social change. This may include, but is not limited to, raising consciousness; preserving or reclaiming traditional cultural practices; being a tool or strategy for organizing and movement building; challenging racism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, ageism, ableism or other oppressions; and shifting the perception of power/privilege and the dynamics associated with justice, equity and/or accountability.  

One recipient will be selected to receive a $50,000 general support award.


The following criteria will be used to judge each application:

  • Arts and Culture: Awardees effectively use art and/or culture in their efforts to advance social change 
  • Equity: Awardees are focused on fairness, inclusion, and opportunities for communities excluded historically and structurally from resources and decision-making
  • Representation: The staff, leadership, and/or boards of awardees represent the communities they serve
  • Collaboration: Awardees have demonstrated a commitment to work effectively with other organizations, leaders, and/or sectors


  • 501(c)(3)s and fiscally-sponsored organizations located and working in the nine Bay Area counties (San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, Marin, Sonoma, Napa)
  • Organizations of any size may apply for the award 
  • Organizations may only submit one application per annual award cycle
  • Organizations that have been declined may apply again in subsequent years
  • Organizations  may only win the WJZ Award once
  • Organizations with leadership or staff affiliated with the Zellerbach Family Foundation are not eligible 


  • The application period opens on Monday, February 3 and closes at 5:00 p.m. Friday, April 17. To apply, please fill out all of the questions below.
  • The submitted applications will be reviewed by a ZFF staff committee, who will advance 5-10 finalists to the selection committee, comprised of ZFF board members, community leaders, and subject matter experts from the field
  • Finalists will be announced in July; the winner will be announced in September
  • One winner will be selected; the winner will receive a $50,000 general support award

For questions, please email

Zellerbach Family Foundation