Oakland / SF Bay Area Programs


Meet Maritessa: Our Bay Area Community Engagement Officer!

Maritessa Bravo Ares, our Bay Area and Sacramento Community Engagement Officer, helps connect local small business owners, social-impact entrepreneurs, and nonprofits to resources, supporting our growing beneficial banking community. Looking for networking opportunities or space for your next meeting? Need help figuring out what technical and financial assistance may be available for your business or nonprofit? Get in touch via email!

Event Sponsorship Program

Beneficial State Foundation funds and manages the event sponsorships of Beneficial State Bank. We are proud to support many incredible California nonprofits through event sponsorship. To learn more, click here or contact Maritessa.

Clean Vehicle Financing Assistance Pilot Program

This fall, Beneficial State Foundation was awarded a $5 million grant to administer the statewide Financing Assistance Pilot Project (FAPP), a three-year pilot program funded by the California Air Resources Board. The program will provide roughly 800 lower-income individuals with grants and low-cost financing to purchase electric and hybrid vehicles. We will implement this program in close partnership with Beneficial State Bank, the Center for Sustainable Energy, and GRID Alternatives.

California Community Engagement Initiatives

Beneficial State Foundation develops and supports a variety of programs, services and events in the Oakland and San Francisco Bay Area. Our Community Engagement Officers build relationships in their respective communities by supporting bank clients, hosting workshops, attending community events and volunteering.

Here are some examples:

Oakland Indie Awards

The Oakland Indie Awards is Beneficial State’s signature annual event honoring Oakland’s independently-owned business and artist communities. This economic development initiative encourages Oaklanders to recognize the community, economic, environmental and political impact of supporting local commerce.

Each year, anyone in the community may nominate Oakland-based businesses and artists to be considered for one of eight awards. Two independent judging panels then gather to determine the finalists and winners. Awards are handed out at the Oakland Indie Awards Ceremony, followed by an energetic community celebration featuring live music, exhibits, food, drinks, and an Indie Marketplace highlighting a huge variety of local businesses and artists. People of all ages, cultures, faiths, and genders come together to cheer on the businesses and artists that are keeping The Town thriving!

The 11th Annual Oakland Indie Awards took place at the Oakland Museum of California on May 18, 2017 and was a huge success. Discover the winners and more at www.OaklandIndieAwards.com.

What are people saying about the Oakland Indie Awards?

“The Indie Awards is a great opportunity to find out about local businesses, creative work spaces and active entrepreneurs/artists in the Oakland community.”  – Oakland Indie Awards attendee

“When I started business in Oakland in 1999, one had to be member of a private club to have networking like this. I promised to never be “member” to one of those elitist clubs. The Indie Awards is truly an event for people to meet and network and showcase their artistry, ingenuity, and social justice outreach and efforts.” – April Quinn, owner of Gondola Servizio

“The Oakland Indie Awards was such an amazing time! We engaged non-stop with Oakland’s finest.” – Oakland Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine Clinic

“The Indie Marketplace is a reflection of Oakland’s vibrant, multicultural community. The music, the food, the scenery… It’s like a treat for all of the senses! And it’s all Oakland!”– Indie Awards Attendee

Move Your Money Workshops: Fossil Fuel Divestment

We are hosting workshops and presentations to help Bay Area and Sacramento residents and progressive local businesses and nonprofits learn how to move their money to a bank that is aligned with their values.

You bring your group, and we’ll bring our team and all materials – all completely free.

Interested in holding a Move Your Money workshop in your community? Contact Maritessa for more information!

Oakland Business Assistance Center Website

In 2010, Beneficial State Foundation built a business resource website for the City of Oakland Business Assistance Center.  This site includes searchable listings of organizations that provide classes, counseling and financial assistance to local businesses.

Ensuring Nonprofits Thrive

Through our innovative nonprofit banking services, deep community partnerships, paid-volunteer time employee benefit, and event sponsorship program, Beneficial State supports the critical work of California’s nonprofit sector.

Memberships, Partners, and Community Resources

Beneficial State Foundation builds partnerships in the community through membership in local organizations and participation on local boards and committees. See our Resources and Partners page for a list.

Join the Beneficial Banking Movement

We believe that banks should nourish our communities, not extract from them. We work closely with values-aligned partners and financial institutions to spread this mission of beneficial banking in California.

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Stay updated by signing up for the Beneficial Banking mailing list.

Beneficial State Fellowship Program

Beneficial State Foundation’s Summer Fellowship creates a pipeline for the next generation of social impact leaders. We design the Fellowship experience to be challenging, meaningful and in alignment with our strategic objective to cultivate leaders whose passion for economic justice and environmental sustainability match the vision and goals of Beneficial State. Depending on project availability, Fellows can be based out of our Oakland office. View our open opportunities here and submit an application. Positions are typically posted in February; applications are accepted on a rolling basis until positions are filled.

Meet Our 2017 California-Based Fellows:

Fiona Ruddy
Project Focus: Movement-building, Policy and Strategic Communications 
Email: fruddy@beneficialstate.org

Fiona Ruddy is a current dual degree Master’s student at the University of California, Berkeley in the School of Public Health and Department of City & Regional Planning. Before returning to graduate school Fiona served as the Director of Food Access Programs at the Eastern Market Corporation, a non-profit food access organization in Detroit, MI. Since moving to California Fiona has broadened her experience around equity and the social determinants of health by working with Real Food Media, Prevention Institute, and the San Francisco Foundation’s Great Communities Collaborative on projects ranging from communications to policy to curriculum development. Fiona is excited to join the Beneficial State Fellowship program this summer and expand her knowledge around economic justice issues.


Grace Lihn
Project Focus: Financing cooperative models
Email: glihn@beneficialstate.org

Grace Lihn is an artist, educator, and recent graduate of UC Berkeley with a degree in Cooperative Business and Food Systems. She served as the Experiential Learning Fellow for the Berkeley Food Institute and the University of California Global Food Initiative, where she conducted an oral history project exploring food literacy in its many forms. She previously volunteered as the Board Chair of the Berkeley Student Food Collective, where she worked to create a more equitable and inclusive storefront and community space. Grace has also previously facilitated gardening classes for the Student Organic Gardening Association, guided wanderlust freshmen in the Global Environment Theme House, and trained as a middle school educator with Breakthrough Collaborative – Oakland. She currently facilitates the Cooperatives DeCal course at UC Berkeley and is passionate about creating democratic, inclusive and cooperative learning spaces. Her dreams include co-owning an espresso and cocktails bar with her bartender friends, becoming a cooperative attorney through a legal apprenticeship, and teaching about cooperatives in a business school. In her free time, Grace enjoys cycling in the East Bay hills and painting watercolors.


Alex Gustafson
Project Focus: Community engagement in Santa Rosa and Sonoma County
Email: agustafson@beneficialstate.org

Alex is a Junior studying Economics and Media Studies at UC Berkeley.  Alex was born and raised in the city of Sonoma and is excited to be working in the same county where he grew up.  He is the Chairman of the club WriterCoach Connection which recruits volunteers to help tutor Middle and High School students in the Berkeley area.  He enjoys tutoring through the club and visiting the Boys and Girls Club of Oakland with his fraternity brothers.  Alex enjoys playing basketball, traveling, and cooking in his free time and is a huge Cal sports fan.  He plans on pursuing graduate school in the future and is excited to be a part of the Beneficial State family!


Javonte Hubbard
Project Focus: Community engagement in Fresno and the Central Valley
Email: jhubbard@beneficialstate.org

Javonte Hubbard is a rising senior at UC Merced who is currently pursuing a BS in Management and Business Economics with a minor in Psychology. Javonte has served in many leadership roles throughout his undergraduate education. He has served as the Chief Research and Development Officer of Business Society at UC Merced, an organization that aims to prepare students for the professional world after their collegiate careers.  Javonte also currently serves as a Resident Assistant at UC Merced’s Housing and Residence Life, where he builds safe and inclusive learning communities in the form of programing and guiding first and second year students in their journey at the university. Javonte also has a passion for helping people and that is why he pursued a fellowship with Beneficial State Bank.  Beneficial State Bank allows Javonte the opportunity to combine his major with his passion; which is to help serve the underserved communities that are often taken for granted. He aims to use the knowledge and insight he has gained to help young people and individuals in low socioeconomic communities have the resources necessary to succeed in life. In his free time, he enjoys sports, meeting new people, and traveling to new places.


Manny Barragan
Project Focus: Community engagement in East Los Angeles
Email: mbarragan@beneficialstate.org

Manny Barragan is pursuing his B.A. in Business Administration at the University of Providence in Montana.  Manny began his banking career as an intern at Sun Pacific Bank where he worked on many financial projects including analyzing historical stock quotes, market caps and reporting ROE and ROA.  He also has experience working in the commercial real estate sector while at LGI Association.  He was responsible for communicating with over 20 commercial residential property managers. Manny has a strong passion for financial literacy and education.  One of his life purposes is to be someone who can bring what he has learned in the financial world to his community and people around him.  He has served as a spokesperson and volunteer for Junior Achievement of Southern California – an organization that empowers young people through financial literacy, workforce readiness and entrepreneurship education. In addition to his academic pursuits, Manny is very active in his community.  He currently works for AWARE INC. which is a nonprofit designed to help people with various disabilities to become independent in life and succeed in their communities.  When he has spare time, Manny loves playing soccer, hiking, food tasting & doing road trips.