My Cause

Adam Swig’s Value Culture Wants to Engage the Next Generation of San Franciscans

By Julissa James

Adam Swig on his up-and-coming nonprofit, Value Culture: “I wanted to make the message about [giving back],” he says, “not about me.”
When the Gazette spoke with Adam Swig, he was spending the holidays in Hawaii, letting his long curls loose before returning to San Francisco for what would be a “wild” start of the year for his new nonprofit, Value Culture. The organization, which aims to engage the next generation of San Franciscans with the things that shaped Swig (the arts, community involvement) is both a tribute to his famously philanthropic family and an attempt to create something that’s not about his last name at all. “I wanted to make the message about [giving back],” he says, “not about me.”

The cause. Formed in November 2019, Value Culture is an extension of the event work that Swig’s been doing for years— from inclusive late-Shabbat after-parties to “Hanukkah in Paris”-themed toy drives. But he wanted to create a larger impact, and as an individual “it’s kind of hard to do that,” he says. The organization will continue Swig’s tradition of throwing benevolent ragers, in addition to offering something called “COR” (an acronym for cultural opportunity review), which helps foundations and organizations pinpoint their issues, find ways to address them and (in an on-brand move) kick-start the process with an event. Value Culture also has plans to offer internships and volunteer opportunities to young people, as well as opportunities for artists.

Inspiration. After serving as the token millennial on the committees of institutions trying to hook the next gen, Swig realized there was a hole in the system that needed to be filled — it’s part of what pushed him to start the nonprofit. He also cites his powerhouse grandmother, Cissie Swig, as a huge influence. “Growing up watching her, learning from her, was a blessing,” Swig says. The family matriarch, who sits on Value Culture’s advisory council, reminds him of what’s important, like writing thank-you notes, among other “grandma stuff.”

Impact. It may be too soon for numbers, but Swig is clear on what he wants his nonprofit to achieve: Preserve the culture and spirit of “old San Francisco” for a modern age. He jokes that Value Culture “is the only VC in San Francisco that’s really going to matter.”

Supporters. Swig’s mom, Sari Swig, has been a huge pillar in his philanthropic journey. Other advisers include Emma Mayerson, Zachary Casler, and Value Culture’s board of directors; Nat Hays, Deva Santiago, Dylan Macniven and J.P. Harbour.

Budget. So far, there’s no budget besides the few thousand that he’s self-funded, Swig says.

Getting involved. “I look at this as my baby,” he explains. “And what do your friends do when you have a baby? They give it gifts.” In other words, donate! Or attend one of its events. On February 2, Value Culture participated in Night of Ideas, a heady event from the French Consulate in San Francisco, SFMOMA, KQED and the San Francisco Public Library.

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