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President's Recap - April 2015

Monday, May 4, 2015

Dear Colleagues,
Before sharing SCG's recent initiatives, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the events that have rocked our nation and the world in recent weeks. While deeply distressing for all of us, I am encouraged by the proactive role so many of our philanthropic partners have taken to support communities in Baltimore and relief work in Nepal. SCG will continue to share news and updates to support the funder community's efforts in these areas; please contact us if you would like to share information or resources with the SCG community.

At times like this, it’s more inspiring than ever to see the SCG family coming together to learn, connect, and take action. We’re honored to welcome our newest members: California Water Foundation; John Gogian Family Foundation; Angel Foundation; Sam Francis Foundation; and The Bedner and Eldon Family. Below are just a few highlights of recent discussions from the past month. And don't forget to visit the SCG website for the latest news and programs!

In April, SCG members engaged in series of exciting conversations at our 2015 Public Policy Conference: Engaging Communities to Amplify Philanthropic Impact.


Pictured left: Cathy Cha, Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund; Maria Brenes, Inner City Struggle; Reverend Sam Casey, Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement; Mary Anne Foo, Orange County Asian Pacific Islander Community Alliance; Marcos Vargas, Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy. Pictured right: Hilda Solis, LA County Board of Supervisors

In addition to keynotes by Austin Beutner, Publisher and CEO of The Los Angeles Times, and Hilda Solis, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and newly elected member of the LA County Board of Supervisors, we heard from a variety of regional and statewide experts about smart collective impact strategies and innovative partnerships. Breakout sessions also provided space for in-depth conversations about legal, effective advocacy and collaboration for private and public foundations as well as corporate entities.

Participants in this sold-out conference produced so many thoughtful ideas on how philanthropy can lift up the diverse voices of our communities to support a stronger Southern California. I look forward to continuing these conversations and exploring how SCG can best support your work going forward. I'd also like to thank SCG's Public Policy Conference Committee for helping us to create this dynamic experience for the SCG funder community!

Many grantmakers have begun exploring a giving approach based on real cost funding, meaning all of the necessary investments for a nonprofit organization to deliver on mission and to be sustainable over the long term. To that end, we recently announced a joint initiative with Northern California Grantmakers and San Diego Grantmakers called the Real Cost Project, designed to increase the impact of philanthropy across California. As a first step, we will host convenings across the state to shine a light on key considerations about full-cost funding.

Register now for our Southern California forums: June 15th in Los Angeles and June 19th in Orange County (held in partnership with the OC Funders Roundtable).

The Real Cost Project is made possible with generous funding from the California Community Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, The Parker Foundation, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, and Weingart Foundation. We will keep you updated as our work progresses.

As always, I am so proud to work with the SCG community toward our shared goal to make philanthropy more impactful and connected in order to better support communities in Southern California, across the country, and around the world. SCG Board Chair Wendy Garen and I recently sat down for an interview with Inside Philanthropy to share some of our thoughts about the exciting momentum of Southern California philanthropy. SCG is built on more than 40 years of collaboration and vision on the part of many regional leaders who contributed to our impact over the years, and this article outlines just a handful of exciting recent accomplishments made possible by these collective efforts.
A small group of leaders from education-focused SCG member organizations recently gathered for a CEO Salon featuring Janet Napolitano, President of the University of California. Noted author and journalist Matt Miller interviewed Ms. Napolitano about her current role leading the UC system’s ten campuses, five medical centers, three affiliated national laboratories, and a statewide agriculture and natural resources program. We engaged in a substantive discussion about current affairs for the UC system, including high profile budget and enrollment issues. Ms. Napolitano was thrilled by our members' interest and understanding of the impact of UC's mission of education, research and public service, and she expressed hope that SCG members continue to advocate for making higher education a priority for California’s future.

Special thanks to SCG member Sherry Lansing, founder of the Sherry Lansing Foundation and member of the University of California Board of Regents, for hosting this fascinating evening at her home.

Last month, I had the pleasure of attending the Council on Foundations annual meeting in San Francisco to learn about the approaches of different social actors working on critical civic, economic, and environmental issues. SCG Director of Operations and Strategic Initiatives Karen Freeman and Director of Programs and Public Policy Dave Sheldon also attended, and we were happy to have the chance to visit with some of our Northern California-based SCG members! While visiting the Bay Area, Dave also joined a convening for the Campaign for Grade Level Reading spearheaded by SCG member the Annie E. Casey Foundation. At SCG, we welcome opportunities to engage with partner organizations and our membership, and we're committed to lifting up such wonderful opportunities for funders to connect and learn together.

I also want to share some quick updates about other SCG events we've held in recent weeks:

On a final note, I wanted to let you all know I will be travelling out of the country from May 8th through May 29th. In addition to taking some personal time off, I'm looking forward to attending the International Women's Forum World Cornerstone Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa! I'm excited to learn and gain fresh perspective on some of our shared global challenges, and to bring these experiences and ideas back to the SCG community.


Christine Essel
President and CEO
Southern California Grantmakers

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