Foundation History


Y. Charles (Chet) Soda and Helen C. Soda founded the Y & H Soda Foundation in 1964.

Longtime residents of the East Bay, Helen was a devoted wife and community leader and Chet initially was a cement contractor who later invested in a variety of business and property ventures. Chet was an active Catholic layman who was selected to become a Knight of Malta by the Vatican, a smart, aggressive businessman and a dedicated husband.

Chet and Helen were active in a variety of civic and philanthropic organizations and shared a special interest in education.

Helen served as a Trustee at Holy Names University in Oakland, California and Chet served as Regent and Trustee at St. Mary’s College, Moraga, California and as the Chairman of the Advisory Board of California State University at Hayward, California. Chet was one of the original co-owners of the Oakland Raiders football team. As President of the Board of Port Commissioners of the Port of Oakland, he also played a significant role in developing the Port into the second largest container port in the United States. Chet served as a commissioner on the Oakland Museum Board during the construction and development of the Museum.

Following the deaths of Helen Soda in 1983 and Chet Soda in 1989, the Board of Directors began formal grantmaking in the East Bay.