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President's Message - March 2017

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

In March, I was in Washington, D.C. with an impressive delegation of California funders for Foundations on the Hill. Now, as April begins, SCG will hold our sold-out Public Policy Conference. It’s easy to see why the SCG community is more engaged with public policy than ever before: the ground has shifted beneath our feet since last November’s election. In this tumultuous time, it’s more important than ever for us to come together at the SCG table.
We are a nonpartisan organization, a rare and precious space for civic discourse. We are a place for learning and questioning across different perspectives. We cannot turn away from studying and discussing the great controversies of our time—issues that philanthropy is now confronting regularly across our region. At the same time, as a membership community of relationships built on trust, we must treat each other in ways that ensure all of our members, speakers, guests, and staff feel respected and included. These are challenges that our entire society is facing, and SCG is very much in the mode of learning how best to navigate this. We are deeply committed to this path forward, and I welcome your feedback and insight.

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.

SCG's Public Policy Conference on Thursday 4/6 is sold out! This year, we'll hear from a powerful lineup of community leaders, academics, and change-makers, including these just announced speakers: 

The Implications of Federal Budget and Policy Proposals for Southern California


Kim Belshé, First 5 Los Angeles; Chris Hoene, California Budget & Policy Center;
John Kim, Advancement Project California

Finding Common Ground in Uncertain Times

Bill Allen, LA County Economic Development Corporation; Hon. Kathryn Barger, Supervisor, Fifth District, LA County Board of Supervisors; Nike Irvin, California Community Foundation; Dr. Raphael Sonenshein,
Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs, Cal State LA.

For the complete list of sessions descriptions and speakers, visit our website.

SCG members are also welcome to sign up here for periodic email updates from our policy team that distill the most philanthropy-relevant information on emerging policy issues in our region, statewide, and nationally. To sign up for this members-only benefit, click here.


In a whirlwind three-day tour last week, SCG and our partners Northern California Grantmakers and San Diego Grantmakers met with two dozen legislators and staff from both sides of the aisle in our nation’s capital. Our “Philanthropy California” delegation was the biggest group of members and staff from the state’s three regional associations that we have ever sent to the annual Foundations on the Hill event in Washington, D.C. I’m proud that our statewide delegation was organized and led by SCG's own Director of Public Policy & Government Relations Seyron Foo, and our VP of Operations & Government Relations Karen Freeman—who also serves as Chief Administrative Officer for the Philanthropy California initiative.


Left photo: Kate Anderson, Center for Strategic Public-Private Partnerships; Nike Irvin, California Community Foundation, Christine Essel, SCG; Congressman Adam Schiff; Ellah Ronen, California Community Foundation; Seyron Foo, SCG. Right photo: Ellah Ronen, California Community Foundation; Dan Goldenberg, Call of Duty Endowment; Karla Mercado, SCG; Holly Potter, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation; Christine Essel, SCG; Jimmy Tang, SCG; Emily Katz, NCG; Elena Richardson, Fund for Santa Barbara; Jonathan Yorba, Ford Foundation Fellows Fund; Karen Freeman, SCG.


It was exciting and impactful to meet with policymakers as joint representatives for the philanthropic sector of our nation’s most economically powerful state. Together, we forged relationships with Members of Congress, urged them to keep in place the Johnson Amendment ensuring that nonprofits remain nonpartisan, and shared ideas and concerns about a variety of important topics for our region – including the arts, healthcare, workforce development, child welfare, criminal justice, and veterans issues.

In times of uncertainty (shifts in family dynamics or leadership, sudden political or economic changes, changing philanthropic priorities, etc), values play an even more important role in family philanthropy, helping to reaffirm a set course or redirect to a new approach. Join your peers at SCG's 2017 Family Philanthropy Conference on 5/15 to explore key strategies to navigate disruption and elevate the impact of your foundation's work. Special thanks to our conference sponsors! For sponsorship opportunities, click here.  

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.

Family foundations are also invited to join the SoCal Youth & Next Gen Philanthropy Gathering on 4/23. This fun and enriching opportunity for young people—and the adults who support them—will bring together families from across the Southern California region!

SCG members and other grantmakers are invited to attend 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 put together this group to increase awareness and opportunities for local Latinos in philanthropy to network and learn from each other in their respective careers. We hope that you'll join us for this exciting event on April 20th! 

Through both in-person convenings and online communities, SCG now supports more than 30 funder peer learning groups that run the gamut of issues and communities. Whether funder groups are housed under the SCG umbrella or work as independently-run organizations, we strive to serve as a convener and to elevate all grantmakers doing excellent work in our region. 


As nonprofits look ahead to potential shifts in government funding, it’s more crucial than ever for them to communicate effectively with the audiences they need to reach. We were therefore thrilled to partner with The Goodman Center, the Center for Nonprofit Management, Community Partners, and the California Community Foundation to offer a free full-day communications training for nonprofits including our members’ grantees, led by internationally known storytelling expert and strategic messaging facilitator Andy Goodman. Designed to take organizations' communications skills to the next level, this workshop was a great example of SCG's recent collaborative work and efforts to be responsive to needs in the grantmaker/grantee community. Due to the overwhelmingly positive response to this training, Andy Goodman volunteered to host a second workshop specifically for the grantees of SCG members. Stay tuned for more details!

SCG members have played a pivotal role in funding the forthcoming research report, A Portrait of Los Angeles County: Advancing an Action Agenda to Improve Individual, Family, and Community Well-Being. This innovative report is being conducted by the nationally recognized research organization Measure of America, and will examine well-being in LA County by combining education, income, and health into a single understandable and evidence-based metric. The methodology is based on the American Human Development Index, which has been effective around the world in breaking down policymaking silos. For SCG and our members, our shared hope for the Portrait project is to drive cross-organizational efforts to facilitate policy change and improve the well-being of individuals across our region.
More than a dozen SCG members came together to fund the data analysis and publication for this crucial report. However, data alone cannot achieve sustainable and innovative change. That's why I'm thrilled to share that another SCG member, the County of Los Angeles, is providing a grant through the County Quality & Productivity Commission’s Productivity Investment Fund to support effective use of this data. Specifically, the QPC grant will support the LA County Office of Child Protection to promote effective use of Portrait data—thus aligning this powerful initiative with the work of our Center for Strategic Public-Private Partnerships, which is co-led by SCG and the Office of Child Protection. Thanks to these strategic investments by your peers, SCG and Measure of America look forward to sharing the Portrait with you and with our broader community later this year.

I am pleased to announce that SCG’s 2017-2019 Senior Peer-to-Peer Network will be led by Dr. Peter Long, President and CEO of the Blue Shield of California Foundation!  As one of our signature professional development programs, Senior Peer-to-Peer brings together select program staff from SCG member organizations to engage closely with philanthropic peers to reflect on topics related to leadership development. Over the course of two years, this cohort will consider organizational dynamics, collaborative philanthropic impact, and philanthropy trends, as well as individual professional and personal goals. 

In his leadership at Blue Shield, Dr. Long helps the Foundation advance its mission to improve the lives of all Californians, particularly the underserved, by making health care accessible, effective, and affordable, and by ending domestic violence. Prior to joining the Foundation, he served in leadership roles at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and The California Endowment, among other organizations. Stay tuned for more information about the Senior Peer-to-Peer Network application, which will be released this Wednesday! Applications will be due April 17.

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

SCG members joined a statewide webcast on California’s 2017/2018 budget to get insights into potential changes and implications for nonprofits, communities, and government.

I hope to see you at these upcoming events:

Last but not least, I want to invite you to add your voice to our Public Policy Conference this Thursday (April 6th) on Twitter, even if you’re unable to join us in person! Please join the conversation with @socalgrantmaker and our speakers and guests using the hashtag #SCGPolicyCon17.
Thank you for being part of the Southern California philanthropy community,

Christine Essel
President and CEO
Southern California Grantmakers

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