Gene and Suzanne Valla: Planning For The Future

Gene and Suzanne Valla have been with us from the start. Seriously. Gene first heard about 826 Valencia when he was reading the news and stumbled upon an article about Dave Eggers and Ninive Calegari starting a tutoring program in San Francisco. At the time, he was a trustee at the Louis R. Lurie Foundation, and after a successful site visit to our namesake pirate supply store and writing center, 826 Valencia became one of the foundation’s long-time grantees.

Gene and Susan Valla, our cherished supporters

While their connection to 826 began through the Lurie Foundation, it quickly became a more personal one. Gene and Suzanne are longtime supporters of the 826 Network, including 826 National, 826 New Orleans, 826 MSP (where they brought their daughter and son-in-law to meet with staff) and others. Enthusiastic about replicating our model, they were major supporters of our Tenderloin expansion, and then again to Mission Bay. Most recently they’ve incorporated 826 Valencia into their estate planning. They view putting 826 into their IRA and estate planning as a way to ensure that their money continues to go to causes they believe in even after they’re gone.

When choosing which nonprofits to invest in, they look for stability and duration. It’s important to them that they’re investing in something that will have a lasting impact. “We’re very committed to 826… the longevity, the leadership, the philosophy, the commitment to the mission has always been there,” Suzanne says. Gene adds, “This decision is based on strong leadership with demonstrated organizational stability. Replication, innovation, tangible results and engagement with the community are paramount. Plus, I have seen first-hand how rewarding (and fun!) the experience is to students and volunteers.”

Gene and Suzanne have been with us in so many ways throughout the years, and we are lucky to have had such forward-thinking and invested donors in our corner since the very start, and in perpetuity.

If you’d like to learn more about supporting 826 Valencia through your will or estate plan, please contact Director of Advancement Allyson Halpern at