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President's Recap June 2015

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Dear Colleagues,

June was a momentous month in so many ways—on the national level as well as here in Los Angeles. We have also been busy as ever here at SCG, and I wanted to share some of our members' exciting recent work and dynamic conversations.  Below are just a few highlights of discussions and developing initiatives from the past month.

Please join me in welcoming our newest members to the SCG family:

    Martha Montag Brown
    Chino Cienega Foundation
    Bridget Hogan Cole (Consultant)
    HealthCare Foundation for Orange County
    Moss Foundation
    Jennifer Shen (Consultant)

At a recent LA County Board of Supervisors meeting, Weingart President and CEO Fred Ali and I made public statements of support for a motion to establish a new Philanthropy Liaison position within the Office of Child Protection (OCP). I'm happy to report the motion passed unanimously! The OCP was initially established in 2014 per the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Child Protection, which SCG's policy voice helped to push forward. The liaison position is meant to work within the OCP to ensure the highest level of dialogue, as well as coordination and collaboration, between philanthropy and the County to benefit at-risk children. Over the next two months, SCG will be working with the County to develop potential options for the structure of this position.



Left: Supervisor Hilda Solis; Chris Essel, SCG; Fred Ali, Weingart Foundation. Right: Allison Holmes, Annenberg Foundation; Chris Essel, SCG; Aileen Adams, Senior Advisor to Supervisor Solis; Fred Ali, Weingart Foundation; Martha Jimenez, The California Endowment; Stephanie Levin, Annenberg Foundation


SCG, the Weingart Foundation, and nine additional SCG member organizations proposed the establishment of a philanthropy liaison in a letter sent to the Board of Superivsors on June 1st. The letter was endorsed by many SCG members: The Ahmanson Foundation, Annenberg Foundation, Blue Shield of California Foundation, California Community Foundation, The California Endowment, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, UniHealth Foundation, and the Weingart Foundation. In her newsletter, Supervisor Solis noted, “with a Philanthropy Liaison in place, we will be far better positioned to combine the best thinking and resources of government and philanthropy into programs that work for children.” You can read more about this motion in the Chronicle of Social Change.

Register now for SCG's annual Music Under the Stars celebration on Friday, August 21st. We'll be honoring the contributions of longtime SCG member Shirley Fredricks, Vice President and Trustee of the Lawrence Welk Family Foundation. This special evening features a reception, light dinner, and a performance at the Levitt Pavilion Los Angeles by the bluegrass band Whiskey Shivers. Check out the full 2015 concert calendars for the Levitt Los Angeles and Pasadena!

Last month, SCG members gathered in LA and Orange County to engage with experts in the field about real cost funding (all the necessary costs for a nonprofit to deliver on mission and to be sustainable over the long term). Special thanks to the Orange County Funders Roundtable for partnering with us on our OC convening! Our colleagues at Northern California Grantmakers and San Diego Grantmakers also led gatherings throughout the state in June. The forums were part of our work in the Real Cost Project, a statewide initiative made possible with support from the California Community Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The David & Lucile Packard Foundation, The Parker Foundation, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, and the Weingart Foundation. Members can log in to the SCG website to access resources from the LA program and the OC program. We look forward to continuing these important conversations among grantmakers at several upcoming fall convenings.


This year’s Family Philanthropy Conference helped members to examine their assumptions about philanthropy and explore ways to increase the impact of their giving. Monitor Institute's Gabriel Kasper led a fun, interactive exercise on "flipping" orthodoxies followed by a fascinating look at key global trends that will impact our communities and how we give.

Left: Melissa Berman and Mitch Singer of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors at the SCG "photo booth." Right: Blair Carty, The Adams Legacy Foundation, sharing her experiences during an interactive group exercise.

Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors CEO Melissa Berman shared thoughtful insights into RPA's Theory of the Foundation—a research project examining how donors can look at their giving with fresh eyes and renewed commitment. We were also thrilled to hear from a panel of SCG members (Blair Carty, Executive Director, The Adams Legacy Foundation; Maya Patel, President, Tarsadia Foundation; and Lois Mitchell, President, Orfalea Foundation) about their experiences challenging long-held beliefs for greater clarity and impact in their giving. Access conference resources here (members only) and view photos on Facebook.

Please save the date for our Annual Conference coming up on October 28th! Many thanks to our Presenting Sponsors: Annenberg Foundation, California Community Foundation, and the Santa Barbara Foundation. Visit the SCG website for a complete list of sponsors and other conference updates.

At a recent funder briefing, SCG members heard from San Bernardino and Riverside County community leaders about promising initiatives and ways that grantmakers can help support the challenged Inland Southern California region. This vast area is experiencing rapid growth and daunting societal issues, and funders are stepping up to bring attention to the needs and opportunities in both counties. At SCG, we are thrilled to bring a renewed focus to the work of grantmakers in this area, and to engage the broader SoCal philanthropy community on critical issues for the Inland Southern California region. Special thanks to our co-presenter, the Funders Alliance of San Bernardino & Riverside Counties, and our luncheon host, Wells Fargo. Access program resources here (members only).

A small group of leaders from SCG member organizations recently gathered for a CEO salon with Ramon Cortines, Superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Superintendent Cortines spoke candidly about his vision and priorities for the district, as well as his views on issues such as parental choice, nonprofit partners, and charter schools. Attendees also engaged with the Superintendent about the state of LAUSD and how philanthropy can help improve educational outcomes for all students. Special thanks to SCG member Ron Burkle for hosting this fascinating evening at his home.

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

  • A group of SCG members joined the LA County Economic Development Corporation for a working group session on building livable communities. SCG members' feedback from this session will help shape the County’s next five-year Strategic Plan for Economic Development.
  • STEM+Arts funders convened to learn about 100Kin10 Network's efforts to train 100,000 excellent STEM teachers to educate the next generation.
  • SCG members explored two promising models to support prosperity in low-income and immigrant communities through microenterprise.
  • Funders took a special look at First 5 LA's new strategic plan and a discussed implications for the broader funder community's work supporting young children in LA County.
  • Education funders convened to learn about community schools and collaborating to magnify our individual philanthropic efforts to improve the academic success and well-being of students.
  • SCG's Talent Philanthropy Group met to share their recent work and best practices for working in entertainment/sports. (Special partnership discount for SCG members to attend the Sports and Entertainment Philanthropy Summit on July 25th!)

Thank you for your continued participation and leadership in the SCG community and the broader SoCal region!


Christine Essel
President and CEO
Southern California Grantmakers

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