Clayton Christensen

Clayton Christensen

Disruptive Innovation (DI) is a framework, first coined by Clayton M. Christensen, which seeks to create value within a new market, eventually displacing the existing market and value networks. The term is most often used in business and technology literature to describe innovations that improve a product or service in ways that the market does not expect, typically first by designing for a new group of consumers who historically did not have access due to money or skill. In 2011, The Health Trust convened the Disruptive Innovation Summit, an event targeting community leaders to establish a common understanding of health disparities and a platform to discuss innovative solutions. Subsequently, The Health Trust launched an initiative in 2012 to explore the use of the Disruptive Innovation frame within the social services sector. The goal of the initiative is to catalyze entrepreneurial thinking and implement creative solutions to existing health and social issues impacting the Silicon Valley. To date, The Health Trust has awarded $991,256 for Disruptive Innovation projects.

The Health Trust’s Grantmaking application process is now on-line.  If you are a new applicant or previous grantee, you must first create an account in order to submit the appropriate application forms. Please click here to create an account. Once you’ve created an account, please click here to complete the Disruptive Innovation Letter of Intent.

Disruptive Innovation Projects:


Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County
Feasibility of a New Financing Mechanism in Santa Clara County – awarded $150,000 (two grants: $100,000 in FY 12 and $50,000 in FY13) to support a feasibility study of a financing mechanism to support a Pay for Success model which shifts the way social services are funded and the way outcomes are reported and tracked, with the end goal of improving health outcomes in Santa Clara County. As a result of The Health Trust’s investment, on August 2013, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved implementing the first county funded Pay for Success – Social Impact Financing pilot in the country. The philanthropic community echoed its interest and as a result, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation committed $75,000 to match $75,000 in county funds to convene a meeting of public and private investors. To date, the County has identified and secured public and private funding for two issue areas under Pay for Success: acute psychiatric illness and chronic homelessness.

Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County
Cultivando Salud/Cultivating Health  – awarded $50,000 in FY12 to design and pilot a microenterprise model and business plan to train low-income women to create their own revenue generating health and wellness businesses. As a result of this grant, nine women participated in the training and became Zumba fitness instructors, supporting their community by increasing access to affordable physical activities and generating revenue through the program. 

Community Technology Alliance
ConnectSCC– awarded $127,722 in FY12 to research and assess the feasibility of implementing a basic mobile phone service at low or no-charge for homeless and extremely low-income individuals to increase access to healthcare, housing, and employment opportunities. Because of The Health Trust’s investment, 50 homeless individuals received a smart phone by participating in the CTA Mobile4All pilot project, enabling the participants to connect to needed services. 

Greenbelt Alliance
Our Backyard – awarded $100,000 in FY12 to research, design and test a mobile app and web platform to increase community engagement, targeting underrepresented community members by including them in conversations using a more convenient, less expensive and accessible format on land-use issues to achieve health, environmental sustainability, and social equity. Because of the success of the seed funding, The Health Trust awarded Greenbelt Alliance additional funding to pilot test the app. 

Law Foundation of Silicon Valley
Health Law Connect – awarded $50,000 in FY12 to research and design a simpler, low-cost, and more accessible service model using technology to provide basic legal services to patients of Santa Clara Valley Medical Center and its clinic network. As a result of this project, an evidence-based business plan was developed outlining different options for providing basic legal services to low-income patients in healthcare settings throughout Santa Clara County to address the social determinants of health.

Sacred Heart Community Services
Massive Open Online Volunteer Engagement (MOOVE) – awarded $125,000 in FY13 to research and develop a model and action plan for a new way to engage individuals in volunteerism and to increase their retention. As a result of this grant, Sacred Heart Community Services developed a new online volunteer platform, providing volunteers with easy access to information and convenient online training. Through the development of the platform, a strong foundation has been established for volunteer opportunities and community engagement.

Somos Mayfair
Somos (We Are) Connected! – awarded $26,814 in FY15 to study the feasibility of a peer educator (aka Promotor) job training and placement model that will systematize a new way of doing business in the nonprofit sector while leveraging the assets of promotores (peer educators). Components of the study are focusing on stakeholder, legal, operational and preliminary financial analyses. This project concludes in March 2016.


 Breathe California
Zero Emissions Squared: Safe and Healthy Schools – awarded $150,000 in FY13 to disrupt the school bus transportation by converting a used diesel bus to become a solar-fueled electric vehicle. As a result of this grant, Breathe California developed the necessary infrastructure to negotiate a contract with private, for-profit entities allowing for shares in the company, developing a new revenue stream. 

Greenbelt Alliance
Public Square – awarded $75,000 in FY14 to pilot test an online tool that will create a new system of public engagement targeting individuals who are traditionally not included (i.e. renters, youth, families, local workers and people of color living on the economic margins) in the land-use planning process in the City of Mountain View.  


United Way Silicon Valley 
Disruptive Innovation 2013 – awarded $55,272 in FY13 to provide consultation support on The Health Trust Disruptive Innovation initiative and Grantees. 

United Way Silicon Valley
Disruptive Innovation 2014 – awarded $56,448 in FY14 to provide consultation support on The Health Trust Disruptive Innovation initiative and Grantees.