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The Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation donated $29,500 in grants and scholarships this year, as part of the Silicon Valley REALTORS®’ outreach to help the communities where they live and work. The Charitable Foundation is a trust which makes grants available to organizations from donations by members of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®.

Grants are annually presented to different non-profit organizations that help homeless and low-income individuals and families in Silicon Valley. The 2012 grant recipients include Friends of Deer Hollow Farm, Youth Community Services (YCS), Westwind 4-H Handicapped Riding Institute, JustREAD (on campus of Mountain View/Los Altos Union High School District) and East Palo Alto Kids Foundation (EPAK).

As part of its annual scholarship program, the Charitable Foundation likewise presented a $1,000 grant to each of 18 graduating seniors from public high schools in Silicon Valley. The Foundation has been assisting students with the scholarship grants for the past 13 years

In addition to voluntary contributions from members, grants are funded by proceeds from the local trade association’s annual charitable foundation golf tournament and fundraiser and donations from the REALTOR® group’s districts to their local community nonprofit organizations. Donations from the districts included $1,200 for backpacks for needy students through West Valley Community Services and $1,000 to the Cupertino Education Endowment Foundation.

John Tripp, 2012 president of the Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation, said the Charitable Foundation grants support three main causes: families, youth and housing. He thanked members for their contributions and fundraisers this year in support of the foundation.

“We thank our members and friends for being so generous and supporting the foundation in 2012,” said Tripp. “Please support this cause in 2013, as well, so we can continue our commitment to the welfare and prosperity of communities where we live and work.”

The Charitable Foundation trustees meet quarterly to evaluate grant applications. Serving on the 2013 Silicon Valley REALTORS® Charitable Foundation Board of Trustees are Tripp, Lehua Greenman, Jimmy Kang, Carolyn Miller and Susan Sweeley.

Non-profit organizations operating within the areas served by the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® are eligible for grant consideration provided they meet certain guidelines. The guidelines include community need for the expenditure and people who will be served; impact on the recipient organization; location of the community served; financial soundness and efficiency of the organization; accuracy and completeness of the application; structure of volunteer organization and level of volunteer support; and  appropriate use of the Foundation’s previous grants (if applicable).

The Charitable Foundation trustees meet quarterly (March, June, September, and December) to evaluate applications. Applications must be received by Feb. 15, May 15, Aug. 15, and Nov. 15 in order to be considered at the quarterly meeting. For more information and details about the Charitable Foundation grants and an application form, visit www.silvar.org, or call SILVAR at (408) 200-0100.

REALTORS® want to ensure the nation’s 75 million homeowners continue to receive the mortgage interest deduction as it is today. It’s a very important benefit for all homeowners, especially the middle class homeowners. On Wednesday, the California Association of REALTORS® placed an open letter advertisement in California’s six largest daily newspapers, calling on President Obama and Congress to preserve the mortgage interest deduction in its entirety during their “fiscal cliff” discussions.

The letter was placed in a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, Sacramento Bee, U-T San Diego, and the Orange County Register, and states any proposal that eliminates or attempts to alter in any way the mortgage interest deduction undermines a century-old commitment to the American Dream of homeownership.

The letter also asks the public to visit www.KeepTheMID.com to learn how they can contact their Member of Congress and ask them to protect the mortgage interest deduction. View the open letter.

The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® is asking the public to call their Member of Congress directly and urge them to preserve the mortgage interest deduction (MID).

Congress, as part of negotiations on avoiding the “fiscal cliff,” has made direct references to “closing loopholes” and “limiting deductions” as a way to raise revenues. Clearly, the MID is high on this list of revenue raisers. Losing the MID will disproportionately affect the middle class because a larger proportion of the middle class takes the deduction.

The MID benefits primarily middle- and lower-income families. According to the IRS, more than 70 percent of the mortgage interest payments claimed as deductions is on returns filed by people with incomes between $60,000 to $200,000. Only about 1.4 percent of the total is claimed by taxpayers earning $1 million or more.

In California, 89 percent of those who took the MID earned less than $200,000. Losing the deduction would cost the average California taxpayer over $3,900.

Congress may decide to reduce or limit the MID at any time, which is why it is vital that you call your Member of Congress TODAY and ask that they preserve the mortgage interest deduction. Limiting the MID impacts ALL homeowners, not just those who take the deduction, by decreasing the value of all housing. The MID facilitates homeownership by reducing the carrying costs of owning a home. This makes a real difference to hardworking families. Homeowners already pay 80 to 90 percent of U.S. federal income tax, and this share could rise to 95 percent if the MID is eliminated.

REALTORS® urge all homeowners, including family, friends, colleagues and clients to get involved by calling Congress and ask that the MID be preserved. The public may reach Congress by calling 202-224-3121 Monday-Friday, from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., Eastern time. The Capitol switchboard operator will help callers identify their member of Congress and connect them.

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