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President's Message - April 2017

Friday, April 28, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

Southern California’s racial history includes many low moments: the Zoot Suit Riots and related discrimination against Mexican-Americans; restrictive clauses in housing and home buying that applied to non-whites; the incarceration of Japanese-Americans; and racially-segregated schools and beaches, just to name a few.  As this week marks the 25th anniversary of the civil unrest following the Rodney King case, many of us are reflecting on how far our communities have come and how much further we have to go. Please consider visiting the current exhibit at the California African American Museum to learn more.

Out of the ashes of the civil unrest, black Angelenos and other communities of color have been able to build powerful institutions to organize and win policies that increased wages, cleaned our air, decriminalized our youth, invested in public education for those with the greatest needs, and made marriage legal for all. And yet, we recognize that our work is not done. People of color in Southern California, especially those living in low-income communities, know that they do not have equal access to opportunities offered to others. These circumstances can and must be changed. Supporting racial equity and eradicating structural racism requires the long-term engagement of all sectors of our region—across all racial groups, ages, and genders. At SCG we hope to support these efforts and the work of our members to collaborate and lift up all communities as we strive for a more just and thriving Southern California.

Please continue reading below for updates and news from our membership. You can also check our News Page for the latest on SCG and philanthropy in Southern California.  

Join your peers at SCG's 2017 Family Philanthropy Conference on 5/15 to explore key strategies to ground your work in values and better navigate disruption. This conference is free for SCG members!


Exponent Philanthropy CEO Henry Berman will share how values can set the course for the work of your family philanthropy and make you better prepared to respond and thrive in the face of rapid and/or unexpected change. Jan Jaffe, Senior Partner at The Giving Practice, will share simple but sophisticated tools for becoming a more effective communicator with those whom you need to lead, inform, convince, reinforce, or even disrupt. You'll also engage closely with family philanthropy leaders from the SCG community and other experts in interactive sessions—here are just a few!

Annie Hernandez, Frieda C. Fox Family Foundation; Hilary Kern, Art Therapist; Joe Lumarda, Capital Group Companies; Mashanda Lazarus, Satterberg Foundation; Brad Myers, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation; Sylia Obagi, The Generative Group; Angel Roberson Daniels, The Angell Foundation; Joe Womac, Specialty Family Foundation

This conference is designed for trustees and staff of family foundations, but other SCG members and grantmakers eligible for SCG membership are welcome to attend. Click here to get the complete agenda or to register now!


SCG’s Entertainment Philanthropy Group and other members who fund in the field of diversity/equity/inclusion gathered recently for a special event hosted by CAA Foundation and featuring actors/activists America Ferrera, Wilmer Valderrama, and Ryan Piers Williams. America, Wilmer, and Ryan shared about their initiative HARNESS, which unites entertainment, technology, business, and nonprofit leaders through advocacy and storytelling to amplify the authentic voices and experiences of vulnerable communities.

From left: Morgan Bennett, SCG; Wilmer Valderrama; America Ferrera; Ryan Piers Williams; Amanda Byrd, SCG.

By leveraging entertainment, pop culture, and arts expertise, their initiative aims to protect vulnerable communities by helping people connect as human beings rather than as statistics or political parties. While calling on the entertainment community to use its art for social justice, their larger vision is to shift policy, create systemic change, and develop the next generation of political leaders and engaged citizens. The HARNESS team was eager to share their vision and next steps, hear input, and explore opportunities for collaboration with the broader philanthropic community that shares their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Stayed tuned for more resources and opportunities from this exciting effort!

SCG members and other grantmakers recently attended a launch event for a new professional peer group, Southern California Latinos in Philanthropy. With the support of SCG, Hispanics In Philanthropy, and others, an ad-hoc advisory committee of our members led the group's creation in order to increase opportunities for local Latinos in philanthropy to network and learn from each other, as well as to increase understanding among local and national funders about Latino needs and issues in the region.

Juliet Flores, Annenberg Foundation; Myeisha Peguero Gamino, JP Morgan Chase & Co.; Daniela Pineda, First 5 LA; Christine Essel, SCG; Robert Garcia, Mayor, City of Long Beach

This energizing and inspiring kick-off event was held at the beautiful Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach and featured a tour of Dreamland: A Frank Romero Retrospective. We were also honored to have Robert Garcia, Mayor of the City of Long Beach, speak to our group about creating change through the Latino/a philanthropic community. In addition, a panel moderated by California Community Foundation’s Efrain Escobedo, and featuring Lian Cheun, Executive Director, Khmer Girls in Action; Jessica Quintana, Executive Director and President, Centro C.H.A.; and Kelly Colopy, Director of Health and Human Services, City of Long Beach, shared insights into how funders can navigate challenges and identify opportunities in immigrant communities and vulnerable populations. We'll be sure to keep you updated on future events and opportunities for Southern California Latinos in Philanthropy!

Join the next cohort of our Emerging Peer-to-Peer Network! This peer-learning/coaching program is modeled after SCG’s Senior Peer-to-Peer Network and brings together select emerging leaders and mid-career foundation professionals to engage closely with philanthropic colleagues and develop a professional path aligned with their personal values and goals. We're thrilled to announce that the 2017-2018 cohort will be facilitated by Angel Roberson Daniels, Vice President of Grants at The Angell Foundation! Please note, this course is open to current SCG members only. Applications are due on May 12. Apply today! Click here for additional information.


SCG members and our staff have been particularly active in public policy lately! Here are just a few highlights from the past month:

>> Seyron Foo, SCG’s Statewide Director of Public Policy and Government Relations, recently contributed a guest post to the SCG President's Blog on our experiences at this year's Foundations on the Hill event. Click here for Seyron's update on our recent trip to Washington, D.C. with a delegation of grantmakers representing our Philanthropy California partnership.

>> SCG Public Policy Intern Michelle Ito has prepared two briefings, one on legislation addressing California’s affordable housing shortage and another on a proposed criminal justice bill that would reform California’s cash bail system in an effort to address economic disparity and injustice in the pretrial process.

>> SCG members can sign up here for periodic email updates from our policy team that distill the most philanthropy-relevant information on emerging issues.

Nearly 100 youth, next gen, and adults gathered at Dodger Stadium this past Sunday to get to know one another and learn more about philanthropy. Co-hosted by Youth Philanthropy Connect (YPC), SCG, California Community Foundation, and The Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, this fun and enriching opportunity brought together young people—and the adults who support them—from across the Southern California region.

The event was a home run! With team-building exercises led by a local youth coach from Playworks SoCal and talks by Erica Williams Simon and Joline Godfrey, participants had a chance to learn about social justice, engaging families, and philanthropy in a fun and inspiring environment. During the event, participants also had the opportunity to practice philanthropy firsthand—distributing $12,500 in grants to a variety of nonprofits (to be awarded soon)! We thank the sponsors, partners, volunteers, and attendees for making this special gathering possible.

SCG's Public Policy Conference earlier this month was a great success! Three hundred SCG members from across Southern California gathered for our largest-ever policy event. For nearly half  of them, it was their first time attending this annual gathering focused on the intersection of philanthropy and policy. For SCG, it was the first time our Policy Conference actually sold out weeks in advance.

At the conference, funders came together to learn and connect with a powerful lineup of community leaders, academics, and change-makers around the day’s central theme of equity – fair inclusion in a society where all can participate and prosper. We also explored philanthropy's many strengths beyond our dollars, including examples where philanthropy leaders successfully leveraged our unique ability to research issues, evaluate options, convene stakeholders, educate policymakers, engage communities, and create collaborations for impact. For more details on the conference, access the full recap here or read a transcript of my opening remarks.

The SCG team is regularly researching and considering new resources to support different segments of our membership, and we are excited to expand our services to individuals in finance, human resources, and operations at member organizations. We are seeking to launch one or two new peer learning groups for foundation staff that focus on these areas, and we would love your input! Please participate in this brief survey to help us learn more about the issues and topics that you’d like to cover at future events, as well as the kinds of resources that would be of use to you. Click here to take the survey now.

Here are some additional SCG events we've held in the past few weeks:

I hope to see you at these upcoming events:

As always, thank you for your interest in Southern California philanthropy and the dynamic work being done across our communities.

Christine Essel
President and CEO
Southern California Grantmakers

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