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President's Recap May 2016

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Dear Colleagues,

May was an exciting time for SCG and the Southern California funder community! From new public-philanthropic partnerships to our largest family philanthropy gathering of the year, SCG members have been at the forefront of many crucial issues. Please continue reading below to learn more about their inspiring efforts. And remember to check our website for the latest on who’s joining SCG and other philanthropy news.

In May I had an incredible opportunity to attend the International Women's Forum in Tel Aviv, Israel. With women leaders from across the globe and representing every sector, we explored cutting edge thinking related to technology, the environment, education, and economic growth.

During my trip, I also met with Maya Natan, Executive Director of the Jewish Funders Network in Israel, and Shalom Elcott, an LA-based consultant to the Samueli Foundation who is working on a project for the foundation in Tel Aviv. Our conversation as well as the Forum were truly inspiring and really highlighted for me the power of sharing bold ideas to improve our world. At SCG we consider it a priority to understand and share how global issues impact our region and vice versa—a perspective we will explore in greater depth at our Annual Conference on September 19.

This spring, we were thrilled to launch SCG's Environmental Funders Group and host its inaugural event on California's leadership in the U.N. Climate Agreement. As SCG begins a specific focus on environmental issues, I recently shared some thoughts in my blog about Southern California philanthropy and the historic opportunity we have to step up and do more to meet the tremendous environmental challenges facing our region and our world. Despite severe health and economic impacts, Southern California often gets the short end of the stick when it comes to government and philanthropic dollars. SCG recently conducted a survey to identify gaps where our philanthropy community can do more. For example, beyond the dollars we invest, philanthropy has a unique ability to bring together grassroots organizations on the front lines with political leadership. To learn more about our survey results, read my blog post here.

To continue this conversation, our Environmental Funders Group will host a program on Air Quality: Impacts on Health, Community, and Justice on June 29. We'll hear from Dean Florez, and Diane Takvorian, the new Environmental Justice representatives to the California Air Resources Board, the largest agency dedicated to improving air quality and addressing climate change in the world. If you're interested in joining the SCG Environmental Funders Group, contact Program Manager Adele Lee.

Last month, SCG family foundations, individual members, and community foundations gathered for our annual Family Philanthropy Conference. Featuring Kathleen Enright, President and CEO, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, and Joline Godfrey,  a nationally recognized family philanthropy advisor, the conference explored the idea of culture—both within one’s family and as an organization—as a crucial component of impactful family philanthropy.

  • View event photos on Facebook here.
  • Experience the conference through social media on Storify.
  • Access videos and presentations from the conference through the SCG website (members only).

Special thanks to our Family Philanthropy Advisory Council, who designed and led many of the day's thought-provoking sessions!

SCG is thrilled to serve as the fiscal sponsor for a new initiative with Citi Community Development, Youth Philanthropy Institute (YPI), and the Consul General of Mexico to support the economic empowerment of Mexican nationals and Latin American communities. LA is home to the largest population of Mexican nationals in the country, as well as two million Mexican Americans born in the US. Modeled after New York’s Ventanilla de Asesoría Financiera (Financial Empowerment Window), this program will provide customized resources on-site at the Mexican Consulate in LA. In the first year, an anticipated 16,000 visitors will receive financial education and/or financial coaching services, 500 will open YPI-matched savings accounts, and 500 will receive tax preparation services. I was honored to speak at the launch event on May 5, along with Citi Community Development's James Alva, Ambassador to Mexico in the United States Carlos Sada, and YPI CEO Dixon Slingerland.

Over the past several weeks, SCG’s Public Policy  Committee and our on-staff policy team worked with partners in the philanthropic and nonprofit communities to defeat Assembly Bill 2855 (Frazier). Requiring charities to post a link to the Attorney General’s website on all webpages and include the AG’s link on all printed materials, this legislation would have inhibited the good work of our grantees and created unnecessary expenses. The nonpartisan analysis by the Appropriations Committee called the bill “unduly onerous” and the Committee did not advance the bill forward.

The Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers—of which SCG is an active member—was one of 22 nonprofit and philanthropy organizations that recently signed on to a letter urging all foundations to invest in nonprofit and philanthropy infrastructure. This effort was spearheaded by Jacob Harold, President and CEO of GuideStar, and Phil Buchanan, President of the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP). You can read the blog post published by the Forum about the letter and the value of investing in regional associations. I encourage you to share the letter and the post with your networks, and to write your own posts if you so choose.

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

  • SCG members learned about the Nonprofit Sustainability Initiative, a collaborative of funders supporting LA nonprofits with a strong interest in exploring strategic partnerships.
  • SCG and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy gathered to learn about AAPI population data from the recently released report, The Color of Wealth in Los Angeles.
  • SCG and Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees co-hosted a conversation on expanding partnerships to support immigrant integration.
  • Funders participated in LIFTopolis, a powerful simulation of the social services system that illuminates the complexity and frustration of poverty in America.
  • SCG  co-hosted an LA County Board of Supervisors Fifth District Forum on Children's Issues for candidates to share their plans to improve the lives of children in our communities.
  • Members of SCG convened to hear lessons learned from the STEM Funders Network about their work in 27 STEM Learning Ecosystems in communities around the country.
  • In celebration of Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month, SCG members joined a discussion on how philanthropy can ensure diverse community members in our region are able to thrive.

I hope to see you at these upcoming events:

Thank you for your interest in the SCG community and your support for Southern California communities. And remember, you can get the latest updates from me on Twitter @christine_essel!


Christine Essel
President and CEO

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