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SCG President's Message - September 2018

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Dear Colleagues,

Our 2018 Annual Conference is less than two weeks away on Monday, September 17th. And in my mind, it really couldn’t come at a better time. If you’re at all like me, then you know how easy it is to get wrapped up in our day-to-day work and overwhelmed by the constant drumbeat of the news cycle.

In this moment, I think it is important for all of us to come together; take a step back from our work and busy lives; and reflect on some big-picture topics. Our conference theme this year is Our Common Humanity. This will be a chance for us to engage in dialogue, to think holistically and connect with others who are seeking a similar path.

Annual Conference Logo

Our goal this year is for you to leave with powerful ideas and tools to advance your work and lead real change with partners in our sector and beyond.

This conference really is a wonderful opportunity to get inspired; learn from experts and thought leaders; share your own leadership and best practices; and connect with old and new friends alike.

Conference registration closes this Friday, September 7 at noon, so please make sure to register as soon as possible to secure your spot.


I really hope to see you there!

Christine Essel
President and CEO
Southern California Grantmakers


Jump To:

Philanthropy California Highlights the Migrant
Experience at the Southern Border

Register Today for 2018 Fundamentals of Effective

TRHT-LA Co-Organizes Events to Celebrate 200th
Birthday of Biddy Mason

Philanthropy California Advances 2020 Census Work

SCG News

Program Roundup

Coming Up


Philanthropy California Highlights the Migrant Experience at the Southern Border


Last month, Philanthropy California, our alliance with Northern California and San Diego Grantmakers, joined the International Community Foundation to present The ‘Flip Side’ of Family Separation: What Happens to Migrants and Deportees in Mexico?  Funders from several state and national organizations and I traveled to the region to attend a few days-worth of events aimed at highlighting the experience of migrants and deportees in Tijuana, B.C., Mexico through their challenging first days, months and even years.

During our time there, we met with representatives from organizations that are addressing new needs as a result of recent policies and others that have been working for years with those who have been affected by family separation long before this crisis made headlines.  

For me, the experience was both illuminating and moving. Witnessing firsthand the hardships endured by migrants and deportees only strengthened my resolve to do the right thing when it comes to immigration at our Southern border. (See my July President’s Message to see some of the actions we and others took over the summer with regard to issue of family separations at the border).

The events were livestreamed and are available here.


Register Today for 2018 Fundamentals of Effective Grantmaking


To keep pace with changes in the nonprofit sector and the growing demands on foundation resources, grantmakers must continually sharpen their skills and knowledge. SCG’s signature Fundamentals of Effective Grantmaking program is an opportunity for anyone who is new to the field to learn primary grantmaking competencies and for seasoned philanthropy professionals to revisit their core grantmaking skills.

This interactive program will introduce you to grantmaking skills and procedures and provide opportunities to interact with colleagues in our grantmaking community during a series of engaging sessions:

  • The Process of Assessing Proposals and Site Visits
  • Building Respectful Relationships with Grantees
  • Evaluation for Learning 
  • Understanding Financial Statements
  • Ethics in Grantmaking
  • Managing the Challenges of Grantmaking
  • Adopting the Networking and Mentoring Lifestyle
  • Advocacy, Public Policy and Transformation in the Civic Landscape


Individuals who attend the full program will receive a certificate signifying completion of the series. Register now for Fundamentals!


TRHT-LA Co-Organizes Events to Celebrate 200th Birthday of Biddy Mason


Last month, Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation - Los Angeles (TRHT-LA), an initiative coordinated by SCG, and The Biddy Mason Charitable Foundation co-organized a series of events to celebrate the inspiring life of Bridget “Biddy” Mason on her 200th birthday.

Born enslaved in Mississippi on August 15th, 1818, Biddy walked to California behind her master’s wagon, where she ultimately gained her freedom, worked as a nurse and midwife, and became the first black woman to own land in Los Angeles. As Biddy’s wealth grew, so did her generosity. She was a visionary philanthropist, regularly providing food and shelter for the poor, healing the sick and visiting inmates in county jail.

Despite her wealth and prominence at the time of her death, Biddy was buried for nearly 100 years in an unmarked grave at Evergreen Cemetery in Boyle Heights. Community members gathered at this resting place to honor Biddy Mason’s remarkable life and spirit that continues to inspire us today.

Many others attended an event at Biddy Mason Memorial Park in downtown Los Angeles a few days later. Check out photos from the event as well as this amazing story in the Los Angeles Times.

Clockwise from top left: (1) Wreath-laying ceremony; (2) Remembering Biddy Mason; (3) DJ Alima Lee; (4) Amanda Gorman


Philanthropy California Advances 2020 Census Work


Last month, SCG’s Public Policy staff and our Philanthropy California partners engaged in a number of activities related to the 2020 Census, in addition to our extensive work convening and educating members on this topic.

On August 7, Philanthropy California partners jointly submitted a letter with the League of California Community Foundations opposing the inclusion of a question about citizenship on the upcoming Census form as a part of the open comment period at the U.S. Department of Commerce. The letter included the signatures of 34 organizations, including the following SCG members: Asian Pacific Fund, California Community Foundation, The California Wellness Foundation, Community Partners, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, First 5 LA, Kern Community Foundation and Liberty Hill Foundation.

On August 13, Nancy Jamison, President and CEO of San Diego Grantmakers, testified on behalf of Philanthropy California before a joint informational hearing on the 2020 Census. Additionally, SCG Public Policy Committee Member Efrain Escobedo testified before the Committee. Philanthropy focused its message on the need for the state to provide community-based organizations flexibility by providing grants instead of contracts and by focusing on hard-to-count communities in geographic areas needing additional resources. The hearing can be viewed here.

These actions are great examples of how we are investing in building relationships with state and federal policymakers in order to insert philanthropy’s voice into policymaking. In that spirit, we hope you will join us next year for Foundations on the Hill in March and/or SCG’s Philanthropy in the State Capitol in May.


SCG News


I am delighted to announce that we have hired a new Director, Statewide Technology – Phuong Pham. Phuong comes to us from Mission Investors Exchange (a member of United Philanthropy Forum) and previously worked at The Vilcek Foundation in New York City. Her first day at SCG will be September 17.


Program Roundup


  • At our Collective Impact program on August 7, Jennifer Splansky Juster, Executive Director of the Collective Impact Forum, and three local leaders of collective impact sites in Southern California unpacked the key elements of the collective impact framework and shared insights gleaned from an in-depth study of 25 collective impact sites. 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, with a strong backbone team dedicated to orchestrating the work of the group.
  • At the August 16 program entitled A Humanitarian Crisis: The Harsh New Realities Facing Refugees and Asylum Seekers, we discussed how the systems and infrastructure that support and protect the most vulnerable immigrants and learned how this development impacts local communities in California, what leaders are doing to respond and how philanthropy can engage.
  • On August 24 at the New Platforms for Shaping the Latinx Narrative program at Walt Disney Studios, we partnered with Southern California Latinxs in Philanthropy, The Walt Disney Company and Hispanics in Philanthropy to present a panel of executives and storytellers who spoke about changing the narrative on Latinx culture.

Panelists at the New Platforms for Shaping the Latinx Narrative program


  • On August 29, SCG corporate giving members met and mingled at our 2018 Corporate Summer Reception at the Hilton Checkers Hotel. We heard from Corporate Leadership Council Chairs Mary-Elizabeth Michaels (Warner Bros. Entertainment) and Raul Bustillos (Bank of America) about upcoming priorities for the next year for our corporate members.

Corporate Leadership Council Chairs Mary-Elizabeth Michaels, Warner Bros. Entertainment,
and Raul Bustillos, Bank of America, speak at the 2018 Corporate Summer Reception​​​​​


Coming Up


We hope to see you at these upcoming events:


LA Arts Funders Meeting

This meeting will feature an opportunity to learn about how nonprofit arts organizations and Los Angeles County departments are working together in prevention, diversion, incarceration and reentry in juvenile justice. Read More


2018-2019 Emerging Leaders Peer-to-Peer Cohort

We are thrilled to announce the launch of the 2018-2019 Emerging Leaders Peer-to-Peer cohort facilitated by Angel Roberson Daniels, Executive Director of the Angell Foundation. Read More


Being the Change: Foundations Transforming for Greater Impact

This session will build on the Being the Change research conducted by FSG, which outlines 12 ways foundations are transforming themselves for greater impact through their staffing philosophy, structure and design, skill development and organizational culture. Read More


Fresh Perspective: Food, Equity and Community Development Funders' Bus Tour

This tour will feature the projects of several non-profit organizations that are bridging healthy food access and equitable economic development. The tour will also make the case for an increased investment of social and economic capital, specifically in South Los Angeles. Read More


Career and Technical Education 101 – The Landscape, Promising Practices, Opportunities for Philanthropy

At this program, we will look at the growing pool of living wage, middle skills jobs in fields like health care, advanced manufacturing and energy; explore the shortage of qualified workers to fill these jobs; and talk about the renaissance in career and technical education in California as promising pathway that can equip people of all ages to pursue rewarding careers and greater economic mobility. Read More

View Full List of Upcoming Events