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SCG President's Message - July 2018

Monday, July 9, 2018

Dear Colleagues,

I hope everyone had a chance to enjoy the Independence Day holiday. This year, the holiday held a special meaning and importance for me. I struggled to find a narrative of what it means to love our country when there is so much injustice taking place here on a daily basis. Despite our aspirations and achievements as a country, the United States has a long history of injustices – from slavery and Jim Crow laws to modern-day xenophobia and racism. And, as generations of Americans have tried to do before us – albeit inconsistently and with mixed success – we must continue to fulfill our responsibility to stand up to injustice when we see it.


Ad in the Los Angeles Times

To that end, Philanthropy California, our alliance with Northern California and San Diego Grantmakers, issued a statement last month condemning the practice of separating children from their parents as a part of the Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy on the U.S.-Mexico border. We also joined a group of SCG members and other funders in signing on to the full page advertisement pictured here, which ran in the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, calling for the protection of families and children. While the child in this photo was fortunately not separated from her parents as thousands of others have been and still are, this image has been featured by many publications recently as a symbol of the trauma and human rights violations facing immigrant and refugee families due to current policies.

As the chorus of political pressure mounted, President Trump signed an executive order on June 20 stating that the Administration’s policy would be to keep families together. Of course, serious problems remain – including reuniting families that have been separated and figuring out how to enforce immigration laws in a fair and humane way.

To me, this series of events demonstrated a few things: first, and most importantly, it showed that raising our collective voices against policies that are contrary to our work and values does make a difference. Second, it shows the value of collaboration. As news about the horrors of family separations started spreading, we quickly assembled a large, diverse coalition of funders to speak out against the practice. In this spirit of collaboration, we also recently signed on to a statement from Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR) about the inhuman separation and detention policies at the Southern border of the United States.

Last but not least, July 4th has passed, but our efforts to live up to the ideals of our country will continue. As long as inequities and injustices remain in the world, philanthropy needs to wield our collective power and influence to promote the welfare of others. The task is daunting, but the purpose is noble; and I am confident that when we work together, we in philanthropy can do our part in the long struggle to bend the moral arc of the universe towards justice.

Please continue reading below for more on SCG’s past and upcoming work. As always, thank you for being part of the Southern California philanthropy community.

Christine Essel
President and CEO
Southern California Grantmakers

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Takeaways from the SCG 2018 Family Philanthropy

Register now: SCG’s 2018 Annual Conference is
September 17

Welcome, New SCG Members!

SCG Staff News

Program Roundup

Coming Up

Takeaways from the SCG 2018 Family Philanthropy Conference


On June 5, over 125 SCG members joined us for our annual Family Philanthropy Conference. This year’s theme was “Pathways to Impact,” and we focused on how we as grantmakers can find new and proven paths that truly maximize our impact in the communities we serve.

The conference was the perfect opportunity for leaders in family philanthropy to connect, build relationships and learn from one another. We were delighted to hear from our keynote speakers who are leaders in this sector: Aaron Dorfman, President and CEO of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) and Farhad Ebrahimi, Founder and President of the Chorus Foundation.



Aaron Dorfman and Farhad Ebrahimi



Aaron Dorfman
President and CEO


    Farhad Ebrahimi
Founder and President
   Chorus Foundation


At #SCGFamilyCon18, Aaron Dorfman presented NCRP’s Power Moves toolkit, a comprehensive tool developed to help funders explore three dimensions of funding: building, sharing and wielding power. Quoting director Rashad Robinson, Aaron noted that “power is the ability to change the rules.” He explained that our society would achieve full equity when one could no longer predict an advantage or disadvantage based on race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or ability. He then talked through how funders could assess themselves through the lens of the power-equity relationship, and build, share and wield power with the goal of achieving equity.

In a compelling and moving afternoon keynote address and chat with SCG Board Vice Chair Nike Irvin, Farhad Ebrahimi described his work as head of the Chorus Foundation, which works for a just transition to a regenerative economy in the United States. Farhad, a Next Gen philanthropist, spoke eloquently about how philanthropy itself is sometimes an obstacle to the work we seek to change. He noted that if we want our work to be transformational, we often must first transform ourselves. Farhad highlighted the importance of supporting multi-issue, power-building organizations among communities of color and working class communities, noting that building power from the bottom up is not just more equitable, but more authentic. He also urged funders to prioritize accountability through relationships rather than fidelity to process or loyalty to metrics.



Top left: Mitch Singer, Singer Philanthropy. Top right: Francisco Ortega, City of Los Angeles; Chris Essel, SCG; Nike Irvin, Riordan Family Foundation. Bottom left: Angela Oh, City of Los Angeles. Bottom right: SCG member; Greg Mora, Direct Relief; Nancy Berman, The Philip and Muriel Berman Foundation.

As I mentioned in my message last month, SCG is very fortunate and grateful to have a vibrant community of family philanthropists in our membership, and we will continue to support them through a variety of new and existing programs.



Register now: SCG’s 2018 Annual Conference is September 17


Annual Conference Logo

At SCG’s 2018 Annual Conference, we’ll engage in a dialogue about what brings us together in a divided world. The theme of this year’s conference is Our Common Humanity.

The draft conference agenda is now available. The conference will be structured around three tracks: Advancing Racial Equity, Diversity & Inclusion; Developing Professional Skills and Engaging in Effective Collaboration & Partnerships. Breakout sessions will be organized within this framework.

Register by August 25 to take advantage of our early bird rate!

Special thanks to our Presenting Sponsors: Annenberg Foundation, California Community Foundation, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation. For information about sponsorship opportunities, click here.

Welcome, New SCG Members!


I would like to take the opportunity to welcome the following new SCG members:

Our membership includes all types of foundations, corporate grantmakers, family philanthropy and government funders, as well as consultants. We represent the Southern California region, which includes Los Angeles, Kern, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties.

Are you getting the most value out of your membership? Check out our member benefits. Visit our members-only online directory to find and reach out to your SCG colleagues! We’re also happy to help you connect member-to-member.


SCG Staff News


I am very excited to announce that I have promoted Karen Freeman to the role of Chief Operating Officer. During my tenure at SCG, Karen has been crucial to so much of our success – and I don’t want that to go unnoticed. In her new role as Chief Operating Officer (COO), in addition to her current responsibilities, Karen will focus on the internal operations of SCG. This will include working with me, and taking the lead on designing and implementing business operations to ensure organizational sustainability, establishing policies to promote culture and vision, and overseeing the overall operations of SCG. Congratulations, Karen!

We are also grateful to attract very bright and highly capable interns. Last month, we were sad to bid adieu to Sean Tan, a second year student at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs who was a key part of the SCG Public Policy team for the past nine months. Sean has been named a David Bohnett Foundation Fellow at the City of Los Angeles Mayor's Office, where he will be tasked with projects in preparation for the 2028 Olympics.

While we are sad to see Sean go, we are pleased to welcome two new Public Policy interns. Eric Schroer is entering his second year as a Master of Public Policy student at the UCLA Luskin School. Eric’s internship was made possible through the generous support of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, through UCLA's Hilton Senior Fellows Program. Gustavo Medrano joins us from the Rand Corporation, where he has been working as a bilingual survey interviewer. Gustavo's internship is generously supported by the WHH Foundation and the Goldhirsh Foundation.

Program Roundup



  • On June 12, at the Addressing Inequity through Arts Education program, we dove into the data presented in the Arts Ed Profile report and online tool; explored how key findings could inform grantmaking strategies to improve the quantity, quality and equity of arts education; and discussed the role that arts education could play in addressing a range of critical issues raised in the recently released Portrait of Los Angeles County report.
  • On June 19, we had A Conversation with Birger Stamperdahl, President and CEO of Give2Asia. Established in 2001, Give2Asia is a U.S.-based international nonprofit organization that connects corporations, foundations and individuals with local charitable organizations and social enterprises across Asia.
  • On June 22, at the Neighborhood Data for Social Change program, we partnered with the University of Southern California's Price Center for Social Innovation to introduce and demonstrate the new Neighborhood Data for Social Change (NDSC) platform, a free, publicly available online resource that illuminates the trends, challenges and opportunities facing Los Angeles County neighborhoods.
  • On June 27, SCG along with the California Community Foundation co-presented The Foundation: A Performance by Tony Award-Winner Sarah Jones. This was an evening of laughter, entertainment and thoughtful conversation featuring a dynamic, multi-character one-person show commissioned by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, written and performed by Tony Award-winning actress Sarah Jones.

Sarah Jones


Coming Up


We hope to see you at these upcoming events:


Domestic Violence Homeless Services Coalition Progress and Next Steps

Funders Together to End Homelessness – Los Angeles Network and SCG invite you to a session focused on the Domestic Violence Homeless Services Coalition (DVHSC). The vision of DVHS is to create a client-centered system of shared values and responsibilities that increases access to safe housing and supportive services for survivors of domestic violence and their families. Read More


The Children’s Trust: A Plan to Create Health Equity for All California Children

At this program, we will talk about The Children’s Trust, a bold new initiative to leverage the power of behavioral health supports and strategies—and the resources behind them—to achieve health equity for all children in California. Read More


Form 990: Beyond The Basics

Learn how to look at the Form 990 through the eyes of funders and supporters interested in the story of your organization’s return. We will also take a look at the tools available to assess an organization’s financial  health and impact. Read More


Youth Health Outcomes through School-Based Substance Use Intervention and Prevention

At this program, speakers will help attendees identify effective youth engagement strategies (such as screening, brief intervention and referral for treatment) for improving school health services. Read More


Funders’ Briefing: Assemblywoman Autumn Burke and Ending Child Poverty

Assemblymember Autumn Burke authored legislation last year that created the Lifting Children and Families Out of Poverty Act, which established a Task Force to make recommendations to reduce child poverty rates. This is an opportunity to engage and discuss opportunities to engage with the Task Force’s work and to lend philanthropy’s insights on the issue. Read More


Collective Impact: From Common Goals to Uncommon Results

The collective impact framework brings people and sectors together in a structured process that leads to a common agenda, shared measurement, mutually reinforcing activities and continuous communication. Join us to unpack key elements of this framework and share insights gleaned from an in-depth study of 25 collective impact sites. Read More

View Full List of Upcoming Events