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2017 Year in Review

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

To say that 2017 has been a tumultuous year would be an understatement. This year we saw a deep and widening polarization in our country’s politics, tragic natural and man-made disasters beyond our wildest imaginations, and countless other social, economic, and environmental events take place on a daily basis. Propelled by the fast-moving, large-scale developments here at home and around the world, the Southern California philanthropy sector is undergoing a transformation that will have ripple effects for years to come. 

With so much doom and gloom in the headlines, it would be easy to throw up our collective hands and give up on the important work that means so much to all of us. Yet, we have found that there is also plenty of good news to go around, whether it is the Olympics being awarded to our region or California leading the charge on the Paris Climate Agreement and other fronts internationally. We have also found that through all of this turbulence, our members have demonstrated a renewed resilience by committing even more deeply to the hard work ahead. We are seeing high profile leaders in our community speak out against unfair policies and other injustices.

Check out the SCG 2017 Year in Review

We at SCG are humbled and honored to have all of you as members. And my staff and I remained steadfastly committed to our mission of championing effective philanthropy and advancing collaborative efforts that create meaningful change for our communities.

It is no easy feat to advance this mission, and it is yet another understatement to say that we were busy in 2017. Whether we were putting on one of our 150+ high-quality programs or conferences; walking the halls of Capitol Hill advocating for better public policy on the vital issues of the day; or connecting you with peers and partners and sharing cutting edge information, we at SCG are focused on making an impact for our members and for the region.

There is far too much work to cover in one email, so we put together a brief whirlwind tour of the year to give you a better sense of our work in 2017. I hope you will take two minutes to check it out.

To give you just a small sampling of our accomplishments in 2017:

  • In January, we launched Philanthropy California, our partnership with Northern California Grantmakers and San Diego Grantmakers that brings together the deep local expertise and connections of our three regional networks to increase our impact on statewide and national issues that affect us all; and we are already seeing significant progress.
  • In April, we convened our largest ever Public Policy Conference to help our members navigate the currents of state and federal public policy; this was followed in September by our largest Annual Conference, where we looked at overlapping issues and identities that impact the well-being of community members we serve.
  • In November, we released a groundbreaking report chronicling the first year of one of our flagship initiatives, the Center for Strategic Public-Private Partnerships (CSPPP), which is a collaboration between government and philanthropy (including many of our members) housed in the Los Angeles County Office of Child Protection.
  • Also in November, we helped launch along with our partners Measure of America and 15 leading member organizations The Portrait of Los Angeles County, a comprehensive data analysis of well-being in the county using the human development framework and index.

And we are not even close to slowing down. In fact, 2018 looks to be even busier than this year. We are engaging with many of you in the crucial national debate and the hard work related to creating equity. In 2017, SCG deepened our efforts to address equity—especially racial equity—as a key factor in effective grantmaking and a thriving society. This work will continue in 2018 across our programs, policy work, operations, and new initiatives like our Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation - LA collaboration. Another one of our top priorities is to support full federal and state funding for a fair and accurate count in the 2020 Census. We will bring the 2020 Census to the center of public policy conversations, inviting you to learn more about what is at stake. Finally, please be sure to save the dates for our three 2018 conferences:

  • Public Policy Conference (4/23/18)
  • Family Philanthropy Conference (6/5/18)
  • Annual Conference (9/17/18)  

Just as we are gearing up for 2018, I urge all of you to continue having those tough conversations and keep driving the change—all of the change—that is so critically needed. Now is the perfect time to start thinking about those New Year’s Resolutions for yourselves and your organizations. Your individual and collective vision and leadership—not just in the region, but globally—is needed now more than ever to tackle the challenges lying ahead of us.
I will say it again: it is an honor and a privilege for me to lead Southern California Grantmakers and for us to learn, connect, and take action with you on so many important topics. Thank you for your membership and for the work that you do. We look forward to working with you in 2018 and beyond.

Wishing the best to you and yours this holiday season.


Christine Essel
President and CEO
Southern California Grantmakers