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Canal Alliance Poised for Continued Expansion, Announces Purchase of Headquarters Building in San Rafael 

October 11, 2023

It is with great pride that Canal Alliance announces ownership of a new, permanent headquarters at 711 Grand Avenue in San Rafael.  

Over the past several years, Canal Alliance has explored the acquisition of a larger facility to support strategic program growth and to ensure organizational sustainability and permanency in the Latino community we serve. In November of 2022, with a $5 million contribution from longstanding donor Maja Kristin, Canal Alliance closed on the $6.94 million purchase of the San Rafael property. Maja has since committed a second gift of $2.5 million, for a combined $7.5 million investment in the project. 

“I’ve supported Canal Alliance since 1999,” says Maja, “and I’m delighted to provide my most significant gift as an investment in the organization’s future. I have witnessed the evolution of the agency from one that focuses solely on providing direct services to one that collaborates extensively with local and regional partners to create systemic change. The agency’s clear purpose and vision has motivated me to ensure that Canal Alliance has a permanent home to accommodate expanded programs and new initiatives aimed at making an even greater impact.”

Canal Alliance CEO Omar Carrera shared his gratitude for Maja’s transformative gift, “The purchase of our own headquarters property is key to achieving our 2028 Vision, which calls for Canal Alliance to be a leader and expert in helping Latino immigrants and their families to get on the pathway out of poverty; a healthy, sustainable and innovative organization with a physical space that supports its role in the community, and a leader in shifting perceptions and civic participation of the Latino community. I am grateful for Maja’s investment, which will change the trajectory of our agency and impact many lives here in Marin, permanently transforming and enhancing Canal Alliance’s ability to serve the Latino community.”

Additional philanthropists and leaders who have stepped up to provide a combined $1.89M in grants and low-interest loans to support the project include Mitch and Susan Cohen, Marin Community Foundation, Peter E. Haas Jr. Family Fund, The County of Marin, Bothin Foundation, and Nancy H. and James Kelso Fund.

Located two and a half blocks from the San Rafael Transit Center with easy freeway access, the centrally-located property at 711 Grand Avenue consists of two adjacent buildings that comprise 28,690 square feet – nearly twice the size of current leased spaces at 91 Larkspur and 86 Belvedere Avenues. The new headquarters facility brings permanence to Canal Alliance and its programs and will allow for continued expansion aimed at meeting the immediate and long-term needs of Marin’s Latino community. 

According to Gina Claxton, Canal Alliance Board President, “The Canal Alliance board of directors is excited about how this new facility will allow us to more effectively fulfill our mission. For the past five years, we’ve had a vision of securing our own headquarters facility to ensure our sustainability and permanency in the community we serve. The Latino community is vibrant, diverse and essential to the fabric of Marin. Our new facility will provide a welcoming space for community members to access services and pursue their goals for education, citizenship, workforce training, and more. As we deepen our impact through new and expanded programs, we will also elevate the visibility of Latinos in Marin and support them to engage more fully in the civic and cultural life of our community.”

Omar continues, “Our ongoing expansion will include scaling existing programs, growing our workforce services, exploring the launch of worker-owned co-ops to support Latino entrepreneurs, and offering asset-building programs, including a microlending program for small business owners.” 

Canal Alliance offices and programs will move to the new location progressively, beginning in the summer of 2024. Initially, Canal Alliance will occupy 17,171 square feet of the new space, while continuing to lease the remaining square footage to businesses already in the building. This will provide flexibility for future expansion while generating revenue to cover costs. Canal Alliance will also maintain a small presence at its current location at 91 Larkspur Street for services that need to be closer to Canal residents, such as the free weekly food pantry.  

Renovations are now underway and are projected to be completed by Summer 2024. Office and program spaces will be built out to support staff and visitor well-being with access to natural light and plenty of outdoor spaces for work, collaboration, and events. The top floor of the easternmost building will be dedicated to expanding education and workforce programs and will feature flexible classroom spaces, private offices, and meeting spaces for teacher prep and client meetings with tutors and volunteers. Improvements will also bring the property up to current standards for health, safety, energy efficiency and ADA compliance.

We are also seeking funding and technical assistance to install solar panels and energy storage to prepare the building to serve as a community resilience hub, with the goal of serving the larger community through enhanced access to resilience services before, during, and after natural hazard events. 

The total cost for acquisition and renovations is $13M. The property is located in a census tract and qualifies for New Market Tax Credits, which will return approximately $2.5M to support renovation costs.

To learn more about this project, or support its funding, please contact Sara Matson, Chief Development Officer, at saram@canalalliance.org.

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