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SCG Analysis: Governor Newsom’s Proposed State Budget Seeks to Tackle Homelessness 

Monday, January 27, 2020

by Karla Mercado

On January 10, Governor Newsom released his proposed 2020-21 budget. The budget addresses some of the most pressing issues for the state, such as economic security, access to affordable healthcare and housing, education, and childcare infrastructure, to name a few. Among the most pressing issues to the state, more than $1 billion is proposed to address homelessness. 

California’s homelessness crisis has received both national coverage and scrutiny. With more than 25 percent of the nation’s homeless population here in California, the proposed budget focuses much of the allocation on addressing “street-based homelessness” and access to behavioral health and other services. New to the budget is the spending of $750 million one-time General Fund to jump-start the creation of the California Access to Housing and Services Fund, based on the work that SCG members have led in Los Angeles County. In addition, the Governor issued an Executive Order to take immediate actions to provide additional support to local governments to address homelessness.

The following sections provide an overview of the immediate actions, the Fund and, other efforts proposed to address homelessness. 

Immediate Actions

The state will provide additional aid to local governments, deploy multi-agency teams to assist cities and counties in moving individuals from encampments into shelters and connect them to services. The Administration is also partnering with local researchers to conduct a study to better understand the root causes of homelessness. The state has partnered with philanthropy to augment local shelter capacity. These immediate actions build on the goals of the 100-Day Challenge Newsom issued to local governments in December 2019 that set to create and sustain scalable, long-term strategies to reduce homelessness. The Administration is encouraging cities and counties to join the 100-Day Challenge. Participating entities will receive additional technical support to assist with their efforts. 

The Governor is partnering with Caltrans and the cities of Los Angeles, San Jose, and San Francisco to identify highway adjacent properties and other state roads for temporary homeless housing. Lastly, the Governor has directed the Department of General Services to identify state-owned land that may be used for affordable housing, temporary shelters, or permanent supportive housing. 

About the Fund

While infrastructure is being built to address affordable housing, there is still a severe shortage, and at times, an arduous process to gain access to programs that will provide safe shelter and other services. The Fund aims to provide additional rental subsidies and develop new, affordable housing units, and stabilize board and care homes. This new approach seeks to move individuals and families into stable housing and to increase the number of units available as a stable housing option. 

More about the Fund

  • Administered by the Department of Social Services, funds will be distributed through performance-based contracts between the state and regional administrators, and subject to a 10 percent cap.
  • Aims to augment local governments’ efforts to shelter the many people living on the streets.
  • The regional administrators will need to provide short and long-term rental subsidies and give contributions to encourage the development of new units.
  • Ensures tenants are enrolled in eligible public assistance programs.
  • The Fund will also be used to secure units and negotiate individual client leases.
  • Funds will go directly to service providers.
  • Like several jurisdictions, including Los Angeles, the Fund will enable regional partners to pool federal, state, local, and private funds to stabilize housing for their most vulnerable populations. 


Other Efforts to Reduce Homelessness


A significant effort to address healthcare for people experiencing homelessness and/or substance abuse is the Medi-Cal Healthier California for All program. Formally known as CalAIM, Medi-Cal is designed to be more consistent, seamless, and identify member risks and needs through the whole person care approach. The system proposed is set-up to better connect individuals to services they need, with a focus on improving care to individuals experiencing or at-risk of homelessness. The budget also includes funding to support counties implementing the changes necessary for the transformation of the county-run behavioral health and substance use disorder system. 

Mental Health Services Act

The Administration aims to improve the State’s Behavioral Health System by reforming the Mental Health Services Act (Proposition 63). The reform will be expanding to focus on people with mental illness who are also experiencing homelessness, in the criminal justice system, and early intervention of children. The Administration will do so by establishing a Behavioral Health Task Force that will bring together relevant state departments, counties, advocates, health plans, providers, and other stakeholders to review the existing policies and programs. 

Community Care Collaborative Pilot

The budget proposes to allocate $24.6 million in 2020-21 and $364.2 million over six years to the Department of State Hospital to implement the Collaborative in three counties. The goal of the Collaborative is to place individuals with mental health needs, who are designated incompetent, to stand trial into stable community placements instead of hospitals or other institutions. This strategy aims to reduce the rate of arrests, rearrests, and cycling in and out of institutions for individuals experiencing homelessness. The Collaborative will also focus on treatment programs to improve outcomes and transitions for individuals leaving State Hospital systems. 


To learn more about the entire budget, visit the California Budget & Policy Center's Report on the Governor's Budget


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January 2020: SCG Public Policy Roundup

Monday, January 27, 2020



Happy New Year! With the spirit of new beginnings in mind, SCG is introducing a refreshed format for our monthly Public Policy Roundup! The new layout prioritizes major public policy or legislative items members should keep an eye on, followed by upcoming events, and a list of resources related to our top issue areas.

This month, our feature is a policy forecast on the trends most likely to impact philanthropy in 2020. In addition, we're honing in on homelessness through an analysis of the Governor’s 2020-2021 budget proposal to address housing and homelessness in California and a recap of our "Right to Housing Webinar." Lastly, we'd like to invite you to join our nonpartisan Candidate’s Forum for the Second District of the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors and our annual Foundations on the Hill gathering in Washington D.C. As always, we welcome any feedback on this newsletter. 


Increased Regulations, Greater Community Needs, and Ballot Box Politics 

This year, SCG is committed to tracking the policy trends most likely to impact our members' grantmaking strategies and their ability to fulfill their missions.

As we start 2020, we have identified three trends likely to impact the philanthropic sector: more proposed state regulations on philanthropy, increasing pressures on vulnerable communities, and a focus on housing policy at the ballot box. Read our full trends analysis below, and keep an eye out for our continued coverage of these issues in 2020. 

  • Philanthropy Under Scrutiny: The continued growth of donor-advised funds (DAFs) has drawn and will continue to draw scrutiny, particularly from state legislators. Assembly Bill 1712, authored by Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks and primarily supported by CalNonprofits, will impose significant burdens on community foundations and reveal donor identity of DAF accounts – including the trustees of many SCG members who use DAFs as a form of their philanthropy. AB 1712 (Wicks) is opposed by Philanthropy California – the alliance of Southern California Grantmakers, San Diego Grantmakers, and Northern California Grantmakers – as well as the League of California Community Foundations. SCG is also working to bring more voices to the table to oppose this harmful bill. 
  • Greater Demands as Needs Rise: Federal action on the social safety net will place more pressure on nonprofits that provide direct services to communities. For example, the Federal government took aim at the Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program (SNAP) three times last year, restricting eligibility requirements and making it more difficult to apply for basic food benefits. According to the California Budget and Policy Center, four million Californians each month receive SNAP — also known as CalFresh. Four out of 5 of CalFresh recipients are children and their parents, seniors, and people with disabilities. Add the layer of “public charge” rules that penalize otherwise eligible immigrant families from receiving basic food needs, funders will likely observe increase pressures on regional food banks. 
  • Housing at the Ballot Box: Expect plenty of statewide ballot measures to come before voters this year in what will likely be high turnout primary and general elections. Unsurprisingly, housing will continue to be a focus for policymakers – both activists and lawmakers alike. Grassroots organizations may return to the ballot box to try to put in place a statewide rent control measure that failed in 2018 (Proposition 10). Meanwhile, a statewide taskforce has recommended that the Legislature place a “right to housing” in the state constitution. Finally, state legislators may also place a constitutional amendment that eliminates Article 34 from the state constitution. Article 34 currently requires local governments to seek voter approval for the construction of public housing. Voters in 1950 adopted Article 34 in a bid to perpetuate segregationist housing policies.



SCG Analysis: Homelessness in the State Budget

On January 10, Governor Newsom released his proposed 2020-21 budget, which allocates more than $1 billion to address homelessness in California. The proposed budget focuses on addressing “street-based homelessness,” access to behavioral health, and other services.



Members Take Action: Housing & Homelessness

In December, nearly 60 funders across the state came together to discuss today's challenges around housing and homelessness and to share philanthropic opportunities to protect those most vulnerable to and those already experiencing homelessness.



Pretrial Risk Assessment in California

This report presents an overview of pretrial risk assessment in California and offers considerations for improving the effectiveness of local pretrial risk assessment systems.

Californian’s and the Housing Crisis

This interactive tool shows how housing costs and availability affects Californians. 

Specialized Case Management for Young Adults in Extended Federal Foster Care

This policy brief examines specialized case management models for youth in extended foster care and includes specialized approaches used by Illinois, Indiana, and Oregon.

New Los Angeles County Homelessness & Housing Map

This interactive GIS map makes it possible to geographically view the interim and supportive housing that currently exists and is being developed in LA County. 

Housing Insecurity among College Students

This is the first of a series of spotlight briefs released by the California Aid Commission regarding the obstacles students face in affording higher education.

Grant for Nonprofits Working in Prevention, Youth Development, and Racial Justice

The Center at Sierra Health Foundation, through The California Department of Health Care Services, will provide $20 million in funding and technical assistance for organizations developing or increasing community substance use disorder prevention, outreach, and education focused on youth.


JAN 31: Creating a Bold Vision for Los Angeles County

Join us for a nonpartisan candidate forum for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors – Second District where candidates will share their vision for affordable housing, homelessness, child welfare, and juvenile justice.



MAR 09-11: Foundations on the Hill 2020

Foundations on the Hill (FOTH), is a two-day event that brings together hundreds of foundation leaders from across the country to meet with members of Congress to discuss issues of critical importance to philanthropy and the communities we serve.




JANUARY PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE SCG's monthly newsletter from Chris Essel, our President and CEO. 

2019 END-OF-YEAR MESSAGE Last year, the SCG network embarked on a series of new initiatives and innovative ideas to evolve alongside our changing philanthropic sector.


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Press Release: SCG Announces James Alva as New Board Chair

Tuesday, January 21, 2020





James Alva, Senior Vice President & Market Manager at Citi Community Development, has been elected Chair of Southern California Grantmakers’ Board of Directors.


Los Angeles, CA, January 21, 2020 - Southern California Grantmakers today announced that James Alva has been elected as Chair of its Board of Directors for a two-year term, effective January 1, 2020. Southern California Grantmakers is a robust network of 325 grantmakers working to champion effective philanthropy across 8 counties in Southern California. 

“I am honored to have been selected to serve in this important role,” said Alva, who has served on the SCG Board since 2017. “I look forward to working together with my board colleagues and the entire SCG network to address the issues most impacting the communities that we serve.” 

As Chair, James will oversee the operation of the Southern California Grantmakers’ Board of Directors alongside the current Board Executive Committee: Nike Irvin, Trustee at the Riordan Foundation, SCG Board Vice-Chair; Joe Lumarda, Chair of The California Wellness Foundation’s Board of Directors, SCG Board Secretary; and Melissa Harman, Partner at Moss Adams LLP and Senior Partner at the Moss Adams Foundation, SCG Board Treasurer. In addition, Beatriz Solís, Director of Healthy Communities (South) at The California Endowment, will move into the role of Past Board Chair.

During his term, James will prioritize working with the Board to optimize Southern California Grantmakers’ mission and unveil its revitalized strategic framework in 2020. Additionally, as a number of board terms come to a close next year, James will utilize his experience in organizational change and management to facilitate the onboarding of new board members in 2021. 

“I can think of no one better to lead our Board during this pivotal moment for SCG and the philanthropic sector as a whole,” said Beatriz Solís. “His dedication to our most vulnerable communities and his commitment to racial equity and diversity are exactly what we need in order to envision a more inclusive future for all Californians.” 

James leads Citibank’s corporate philanthropy division for Southern California and Texas. He focuses Citi’s philanthropic efforts on catalyzing new programs and building public-private partnerships. During his five year tenure at Citi, he has helped found the Los Angeles County Center for Financial Empowerment with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Cities for Citizenship with Mayor Garcetti, the Ventanilla Financiera with the Mexican Consulate, and the ONE LA small business procurement program with the LA Chamber of Commerce. He has also partnered with many foundations in joint-funding initiatives and studies such as the Portrait of Los Angeles. His experience prior to Citi includes founding a non-profit and a community bank.

James’ innovative approach to community engagement work has been recognized by three prestigious business organizations in Los Angeles all of which have selected Citi as their 2019 and 2020 Corporation of the Year for corporate social responsibility. 

“James brings a new voice and perspective to the Board,” said Wendy Garen, former SCG Board Chair. “His considerable experience across multiple sectors provides him with valuable insights that will help us achieve long-lasting impact with our communities.” 

James has vast board experience and currently serves on four boards: Southern California Grantmakers, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, the Foundation for the Los Angeles Community Colleges, and the California Latino Economic Institute. He serves on two advisory boards: the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) and the LA County Center for Financial Empowerment. James' other responsibilities include serving on the steering committees for Philanthropy California and Southern California Latinx in Philanthropy, as well as being a member of the SCG Public Policy Advisory Committee, the SCG Corporate Advisory Council, and the SCG Senior Peer-to-Peer Leadership Program. 

“James has been an incredible champion of SCG’s vision throughout his entire tenure on our Board,” said Christine Essel, President & CEO of SCG. “I am eager to see how his leadership will accelerate our impact and help us foster a thriving philanthropic sector.” 

James is a first-generation college graduate with a degree from Stanford University where he served twice as president of his class. James and his husband, Edward, live in Los Angeles with their dog and cat.

SCG’s Full Slate of 2020 Board Members:

Kim Belshé, Executive Director, First 5 Los Angeles; Marsha E. Bonner, Senior Director of Programs, Community Grantmaking & Special Initiatives, Annenberg Foundation; Cara Esposito, Executive Director, Leonetti/ O’Connell Family Foundation; Christine Essel, President and CEO, Southern California Grantmakers; Michael Fleming, Executive Director, The David Bohnett Foundation; Wendy Garen, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation; Shane Goldsmith, President and Chief Executive Officer, Liberty Hill Foundation; John E. Kobara, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, California Community Foundation; Deidre Lind, Social Impact Advisor; Connie Malloy, Executive Director, Panta Rhea Foundation; Steve Nissen, Senior Vice President, Legal and Government Affairs, NBCUniversal; Gabriela Robles, Vice President, St. Joseph Health; Tara Roth, President, Goldhirsh Foundation; Gerald Solomon, Executive Director, Samueli Foundation; Belen Vargas, Associate Vice President for Operations and Chief Mission Officer, California State University, Los Angeles; and Adrienne Wittenberg, Executive Director, S. Mark Taper Foundation.


About Southern California Grantmakers

Southern California Grantmakers (SCG) is a community of philanthropists and grantmakers working to make a difference in our communities and around the world. Our members include family, private, public, independent, community and corporate foundations and corporate giving programs, individuals, and government agencies.

We believe that a strong and informed giving community is essential to improving the quality of life for all Southern Californians. At SCG, we understand the region’s philanthropic community, we know our local nonprofits and civic partners, and we recognize the key issues you face. SCG connects grantmakers across Southern California through sector-wide conferences, trainings, networking opportunities and funder convenings—providing space for collaboration and coordinated action on critical issues. We support and advance effective grantmaking in eight Southern California counties: Los Angeles, Orange, Kern, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura.



Phuong Pham | Director, Knowledge & Communications | 213-860-8866



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Trista Harris' 2020 Philanthropy Predictions

Monday, December 9, 2019

Trista Harris' 2020 Philanthropy Predictions

SCG's Back to the Future blog series is a collection of conversations with philanthropic leaders exploring the key trends that shape the contours of the future. This series aims to expand our thinking on a variety of issue areas, as well as provide funders with the insights necessary to maximize their impact. 

In the early 20th century, futurists were inspired by speed, technology, and modernity to create an avant-garde art movement. Today, shifting demographics and cutting-edge technologies are changing the world faster than ever. These developments have prompted the private sector to adopt foresight as a strategy to analyze trends and determine what is possible, preferable, and probable in the future. Nonprofits and social movements have also begun to adjust their work to meet the challenges of the coming societal and environmental transformations. 

In 2019, it was philanthropy’s turn. This year, our team at Southern California Grantmakers selected futurism to be the heart of our 2019 Annual Conference, Foresight Philanthropy. By asking our network to cast their eyes forward, we could focus on adapting to emerging trends and co-create a future that was equitable to all people. Through the tools of futurism, we knew funders could sharpen their grantmaking strategies, invigorate cross-sector collaborations, and prepare to be more dynamic changemakers. In the following months, we continued these conversations and efforts by inviting philanthropic leaders to discuss the future of key issues areas in our Back to the Future blog series.

One of our primary inspirations for the conference’s future-focused theme was Trista Harris, President of FutureGood and cutting-edge philanthropic futurist. Trista has spearheaded the efforts to make the often confusing and complicated tools of futurism accessible to the field of philanthropy. At Foresight Philanthropy, Trista enlightened our audience with “The Future Started Yesterday,” a plenary focused on using the tools of foresight to prepare for the challenges  that will impact our grantees and communities.

Every year, Trista Harris and her team of researchers at FutureGood curate a list of trends that will impact foundations and nonprofits in the coming months. SCG is thrilled to share their 2020 predictions as the concluding piece of our “Back to the Future” blog series.

Funders help defend democracy.

As we see the United States becomes more divided and instability grow abroad, foundations will invest more resources into strengthening democracy. To support these efforts, foundations will create spaces for communities to collectively solve complex issues, reinvigorate our civics curriculums in schools, and ensure the safety of elections locally and globally. We will see networks like Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement become key places where funders go to connect about these issues.

Institutions examine their impact on the environment.

As the climate crisis worsens, foundations will critically examine how their institutions are impacting the environment. We will see foundations begin to divest from fossil fuels, add solar panels to their buildings, encourage remote work, replace in-person meetings with webinars, and pay for carbon credits when their staff travel. 

Universal Basic Income on the map.

With artificial intelligence and robotics’ emerging impact on our laborforce, the financial model for work will have to change. Universal Basic Income sets a floor for everyone, whether they are working or not. This amount is often described as about $12,000 a year and companies and higher-income people are taxed to cover this amount. Foundations will be on the cutting edge of testing this idea for scale.

Workplaces support staff during times of rapid transformation.

Foundations will begin to think more deeply about employee wellness. The old paradigm that “doing good” in the social sector will shield you from the stresses of work will no longer be enough. Foundations will become frontline actors in a whole scale transformation of society by investing in employee wellness programs, offering more options for remote work, adding more vacation days, and improving their organizational cultures. 

Equity minded algorithms.

A 2019 study published in Science found that an algorithm widely used by US hospitals to determine how to allocate care for more than 200 million patients, was less likely to refer black people than white people who were equally sick to programs that aim to improve care for patients with complex medical needs. We are just beginning to understand how algorithms are expanding disparities. Foundations will begin to take an active role in funding solutions to this growing problem.

Foundations become more digitally savvy.

Foundations will begin to add Chief Digital Officers (CDO’s) who are tasked with leading digital engagement efforts, maximizing the efficiency of grants management systems, financial systems, and relationship management databases. These CDO’s will hire staff and consultants with expertise in automation, to limit the amount of time that staff spend on repetitive duties like checking nonprofit status, updating databases, and managing reporting and instead use that time to deepen relationships in community. Foundations (and nonprofits) that don’t invest in staff in this area will be disrupted externally or internally by a new generation of self-automators


Trista Harris is a philanthropic futurist and nationally known as a passionate advocate for leaders in the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors. She is also the author of the books How to Become a Nonprofit Rockstar and FutureGood: How to Use Futurism to Save the World. She is a President of FutureGood, a consultancy focused on helping visionaries build a better future. 


Other Back to the Future Blogs: 

"Nothing Without Us": SCG's Journey to Inclusive Design

Trends in Education Philanthropy: A Q&A with Celine Coggins

The Future of Art Funding: A Conversation with Vijay Gupta and James Herr 

What is the Future of Work?: A Conversation with Tracie Neuhaus and Michele Prichard 

Designing the Future of Health: Blue Shield of California Foundation’s Strategic Foresight


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Designing the Future of Health: Blue Shield of California Foundation’s Strategic Foresight

Monday, December 9, 2019

Designing the Future of Health: Blue Shield of California Foundation’s Strategic Foresight 

SCG's Back to the Future blog series is a collection of conversations with philanthropic leaders exploring the key trends that shape the contours of the future. This series aims to expand our thinking on a variety of issue areas, as well as provide funders with the insights necessary to maximize their impact. 
So far, our blog series has explored trends in issue areas including education, disability, the arts, and our changing workforce. When we learned that our partners at the Blue Shield Foundation of California were actively incorporating foresight into their organizational strategy, we were delighted to see an example of futurism in action. We spoke to Rachel Wick, Senior Program Officer at Blue Shield Foundation of California, to learn more about how their foundation integrated a future-focused purpose into their new health and wellness initiatives. 

Two years ago, Blue Shield of California Foundation launched Designing the Future of Health to create space for leaders to explore new ideas that could improve health, end domestic violence, and expand their approach to social change. This initiative was born in the midst of unprecedented changes – technological, demographic, social, political, and more – and the Foundation felt determined to find new ways to prevent what ails their communities and make California the healthiest state in the nation with the lowest rates of domestic violence.  

To design and reach that future, Blue Shield of California Foundation knew they needed to take a new approach – one centered on future-focused thinking and innovation. By imagining radical alternatives for the future, the Foundation hoped to find new ways to solve systemic problems and generate breakthrough ideas for healthier populations, strong families, and empowered communities.

We spoke with Rachel Wick, Senior Program Officer at Blue Shield Foundation of California, to discuss what prompted the foundation to adopt the tools of foresight and the steps they are taking to create a more equitable tomorrow. 

Q: What drove the Blue Shield Foundation of California to adopt a future-focused approach?

Although some consider future-focused work to be the latest philanthropic trend, we think it’s an essential and critical lens in our contemporary cultural moment. We are facing deep, historical inequities in both health and domestic violence, and we need tools to confront the social and economic factors underpinning them. Business, science, and technology sectors have been utilizing future thinking and design for some time, and their innovations are having a profound impact on our communities, often without considerations of equity. If we in the philanthropic sector are to understand and influence the forces that shape our future, we have to keep pace. A focus on the future isn’t simply an intellectual exercise for the privileged — it is an imperative for problem-solving, innovation, and equity. 

Q: How have you incorporated foresight into your philanthropic work? 

Our new focus on prevention has helped us shift from an one-off solution mindset to a long-term focus on creating healthy relationships and communities. One way we do this is by monitoring future trends. We invested in the Foresight Project which identified 50 emerging threats and opportunities — such as an evolving job market, climate refugees, and the zero waste movement — that have the potential to dramatically impact our way of life, including our health and well-being. Also, through a partnership with Institute for the Future, we are learning about the different ways our health and family life may be impacted by workforce developments. The Institute has prompted us to support public health professionals taking action on new occupational hazards, as well as develop partnerships with workers advocating for better conditions and benefit models. In addition, once the California Commission on the Future of Work releases their policy recommendations, we will take them to our communities and help them design and implement policy solutions. 

Q: How does the Blue Shield Foundation of California ensure that the future you’re working towards is equitable?

In all of our future-focused projects, we prioritize listening to the communities we’re supporting in order to help them imagine and shape their own futures for health. It’s incredible how excited people get when asked to contemplate their future, but how rarely they are invited to do so. However, while the future can be a fun and create space, it can also be a space where people see inequities continue to be perpetuated. For that reason, history, culture, and identity – especially histories that have been hidden or marginalized – need to be integrated into foresight to make the process itself more inclusive and accessible. 

An example of this is the AfroFutures Festival we supported which was led and curated by Dr. Lonny Avi Brooks. The festival worked to integrate histories of trauma and colonization into conversations about the future in order to highlight the ways in which people of color have historically engaged in futurism as a form of cultural survival. They created a card game called “Afro-Rithms from the Future” where one festival participant envisioned the creation of a tattoo that would hold your family’s history and be used to determine your eligibility for reparations. 

Additionally, a workshop we hosted on the future of gender norms is now informing our partnership in the Gender Justice Funders Network and our investment in the Culture Change Fund. Addressing norms and culture is a new approach for our Foundation and the futures workshop helped us generate new visions for gender equity and alerted us to policy issues on the horizon, such as the potential impact of ending data collection by gender. 

Q: Why is it critical for other foundations to incorporate futurism into their work?

The lines between the past, present, and future are blurry. Future-focused work invites us to be playful and imaginative in our pursuit of social change. While speculating about the unknown can feel abstract or uncomfortable, foresight invites us to question our assumptions, name our deepest problems, and consider alternatives to create the kind of world we want to live in – one much bolder, more equitable, and freer than the one we have today. After all, our future depends on it.


"Nothing Without Us": SCG's Journey to Inclusive Design

Trends in Education Philanthropy: A Q&A with Celine Coggins

The Future of Art Funding: A Conversation with Vijay Gupta and James Herr 

What is the Future of Work?: A Conversation with Tracie Neuhaus and Michele Prichard 

Trista Harris' 2020 Philanthropy Predictions

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The Future of Art Funding: A Conversation with Vijay Gupta and James E. Herr

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The Future of Art Funding: A Conversation with Vijay Gupta and James E. Herr

SCG's Back to the Future blog series is a collection of conversations with philanthropic leaders exploring the key trends that shape the contours of the future. This series aims to expand our thinking on a variety of issue areas, as well as provide funders with the insights necessary to maximize their impact. 

Art is commonly believed to be an essential facet of our culture and a key indicator of our societal well-being. But has the ubiquity of the arts caused it to be deprioritized in our current funding landscape? More and more, the arts are being left out of funding budgets, constricting their ability to be powerful tools of empathy and persuasion in our contemporary social movements. 

To explore the state and potential of art in our contemporary moment, we held a session on “Funding the Arts for Social Justice and Economic Prosperity” at our 2019 Annual Conference: Foresight Philanthropy. To guide our conversation, we invited James E. Herr (Jim), Program Officer at Annenberg Foundation, and Vijay Gupta, Founder and Artistic Director at Street Symphony, an organization working with communities affected by homelessness and incarceration in LA County through performances, workshops, and musical artistry. Together, they explored the vital role the arts play in today’s world and how a new wave of investment could accelerate underserved communities’ participation in the creative economy. 

After the panel, we sat with Jim and Vijay to dig deeper into the importance of art as the lifeblood of social justice movements and key opportunities for funders looking to strengthen their impact and collaboration with artists on the ground. 


What is the function of art in a social justice movement?

VG: I believe that a lot of what we consider to be social justice work is instinctive for artists. In my mind, the artist is very much the modern-day shaman: we’re boundary crossers and cultural translators who are able to occupy the in-between, relational areas where we can share the stories of our hearts. Artists intuitively create spaces for cultural and human exchange.

You see this best when you’re making art in communities — especially communities that we are quick to throw away, disregard, or ignore — where the art is in the process of cultivating relationships. When I go to make music in a county jail or in Skid Row, I'm fully aware that I’m a guest in that community and that it’s not my job to fix or rehabilitate anyone. I'm there to be present with them and to sit with their stories. Listening is restorative, not only for the person telling the story, but also for the person receiving it. When we begin to understand that the stories of our hearts — the stories of communities — don't often come from a place of success, but from places of brokenness, that’s when healing begins. When we talk about the arts and social change, we're really talking about coming together to deal with our painful experiences. Art happens when we tend to the things that make us the most fragile, the most vulnerable, the most human. Our job as artists is to create conditions where exchange can happen, where these rough narratives can provoke conversations and lead us into a space of healing. 

JH: Art is the fuel that drives social justice and it does that by achieving empathy. The funding framework that I developed plugs art into Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. At the very bottom you have the basic needs, which for art, I consider to be the level of voice because the first innate need of any human is to have a voice, an outlet for expression. Next, is the level of hearing because once you've found your voice, it doesn't do you any good if you can't express your needs to another person. But just because someone hears you doesn’t mean they understand what you’re trying to say, so next is the level of understanding, which simply means that others comprehend your message. Finally, you get to the top level — the level of self-actualization — which is empathy. The goal of empathy is to get someone to feel what you’re feeling, what the community is feeling — and to achieve that you must succeed at all the previous levels. For me, the goal of the artist is to guide us through all these levels until we reach that place of empathy. 


What are the opportunities for artists and funders to strengthen their collaboration? 

VG: I would like for us to move away from the historic, hierarchical relationship that has existed between funders and artists. Examples of this include philanthropy’s emphasis on organizations to produce an end product, to meet a set of metrics, or to adopt a traditional, top-down model. There are certain foundations that'll never work with me unless I’ve hired a full-time executive director and submitted my organization to internal restructuring. Instead of falling into this dynamic, let’s work collaboratively to reimagine the nature of capacity-building in a way that centers the artist's vision and that adapts to the needs of a developing organization. This could result in redefining how we think about the "right way to build an organization” and how we evaluate successful engagement in our communities. 

I would also say that some funders are incredibly focused on conventional ideas of success. And I say that very pointedly because success in my community almost always refers to someone leaving Skid Row. Success means that my organization doesn't have to exist anymore. That somehow the work of a funder and an artist will someday be done. And what I've learned from running a nonprofit and being an artist is that the work is never done. That is why when a funder asks for a demographic assessment or for hard metrics, it’s difficult to find a number that evaluates this success. It is challenging to numerically capture the quality of the connection we are working to build over the course of one of our engagements. This is fundamentally about the ways in which funding systems continue to be isolated and dissociated from the artistic product and from the communities they’re supposed to be engaging in. 

To lessen this distance between philanthropy and communities, I would like to see funders get more involved in the artist's process by showing up and serving in the same ways that artists are serving. For example, I’ve begun inviting funders to attend our events in Skid Row and have asked them to participate by doing things like assembling the hygiene kits that will then be donated to the community. When this happens, the fact that they give money becomes incidental to the fact that they showed up. This involvement is so meaningful to me and the communities I serve. I sincerely believe that our funders can benefit from the same thing that our audiences crave, which is real human connection. I want to create an organizational system where the funders are acknowledged for their humanity first and their capacity to give second.


What opportunities are available to philanthropy in arts funding?

JH: Currently, there’s a trend to fund social justice movements and organizations from the advocacy side, but not from the art side. This is one factor that has eroded a lot of today’s art funding. But you can’t separate the arts from social justice movements. My hope moving forward is that we reframe art and access to the arts as a social justice issue. 

I would also like to see more momentum around the issue of school districts not providing arts education the way they should be. The California state education code mandates that students from K-12 have arts education every single day. The reality is that less than 40% of the schools even offer it once a week. How many hundreds of thousands of students are not getting what they are legally entitled to? This lack of access disproportionately affects students of color in underserved communities more than it does affluent white communities. Arts education then becomes a social justice issue because we’re exacerbating inequity by not giving all kids equal opportunities. We need to continue funding arts education programs in K-12 in order to provide our students with lifelong opportunities for expression.  And not only is it important for personal development but 21st Century workforce skills require abilities that an education rooted in the arts can provide, namely: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. We’ve seen some success even though it often feels like we’re pushing this rock uphill to get districts to implement arts programs. With that in mind, it might be time we pursued other policy options to make this happen. I think funders should be leading and supporting these efforts. 

VG: Funders should also pay attention to policies that restrict charitable giving. This is a huge concern for us right now. Aspirationally, I'd also like us to radically reconceptualize what the arts could look like if we adopted funding models similar to the unrestricted funds we provide for venture capital investments in the tech industry. We're willing to invest $20 million on an app that might be bought by Facebook tomorrow, but we're not willing to invest that same money in artists who've been working in their community for 30 years. I'm personally very committed to pushing policy changes that will  cultivate and support these artists.


How can artists leverage technology in their efforts?

JH: I think social media is a place where people are finding their voice. And to be clear, by voice, I do not necessarily mean physical voice.  Technology is playing an important role in giving voice to artists and voice to movements. I’m inspired by the artists who have integrated technology into their practice to amplify their message and experiences. The better you are able to use these tools to communicate, the louder your message will become.

VG: That’s absolutely true. Every year I host a Facebook fundraiser for Street Symphony and it turns out to be one of our most fruitful fundraisers of the year. Of course, part of it is my own visibility, but the rest is the amplification I get from my fellow artists all over the country. Technology helps us decentralize the way we think about distance and allows us to build coalitions a little easier. We need to embrace technologies that allow us to create, to track, and to bolster our daily artistic practice. 


What aspirations do you have for the future of art funding?

JH: I would like funders to understand that the arts are not superfluous. Art is in everything we do. Art is present every single moment of the day. Everything around you right now is the end product of a creative process. We must keep providing opportunities for expression. It's an essential part of finding our voice and moving all of us to a place of empathy.  

VG: I want to paint a picture of what looks like to me. Every year, Street Symphony presents a sing along of George Fredric Handel’s oratorio “Messiah” in Skid Row, where many of our performers are either currently experiencing homelessness or have experienced it previously. This experience is significant because when “Messiah” premiered in Dublin in 1742, it raised enough money to release 142 men from prison. Later, when similar concerts were held in hospitals in London, it is said that they were so successful as fundraisers that the hospitals wanted to patent this piece of music. 

What’s striking is that when it comes to funding classical music, there's actually a long history of individual patrons, like King George II, who came to “Messiah” concerts in the 1740s and helped raise funds for communities. Seeing the funder in the room weeping collectively with the musicians and community members, that’s the vital connection we should be aspiring to create. “Messiah” and all the greatest pieces of music came from the intersection of support, inspiration, and practice. I would love for funders to shift from the idea of using funding  to build a product toward seeing themselves as vital parts of the community, 

Other Back to the Future Blogs: 

"Nothing Without Us": SCG's Journey to Inclusive Design

Trends in Education Philanthropy: A Q&A with Celine Coggins

What is the Future of Work?: A Conversation with Tracie Neuhaus and Michele Prichard

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SCG's President's Message - November 2019

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Dear SCG Community, 

This month, I am thrilled to celebrate the launch of evolve, SCG's new suite of programming championing transformational leadership. evolve seeks to cultivate the personal and professional skills necessary to further individuals' growth, organizational culture, and interpersonal relationships. To kick off this exciting series of professional learning, I spoke with Judy Belk, President and CEO of the California Wellness Foundation, to explore the skills, qualities, and motivations necessary to be an authentic leader in today's workforce. 

In addition, I am eager to share two new conversations from our Back to the Future blog series, which explores key philanthropic issues with leaders from our sector. We start with "What is the Future of Work?," bringing together Tracie Neuhaus and Michele Prichard to discuss the trends most likely to impact our workforce and the role philanthropy can play in ensuring an equitable future. In the second piece, "The Future of Art Funding," Vijay Gupta and James E. Herr explore art as the lifeblood of social movements and highlight opportunities for funders looking to strengthen their partnerships with artists on the ground. 

I hope you find these conversations to be as timely and insightful as I have. Everyday, I am driven by the work we are embarking on together and inspired by the future we help to build for our communities and sector.

Best Regards, 

Christine Essel
President & CEO, Southern California Grantmakers

Judy Belk leads The California Wellness Foundation in its mission to improve the health of the people of California. In her role, she uses her vision and her voice to help Cal Wellness “level the playing field” so that everyone has access to good-paying jobs, safe neighborhoods, and quality health care services.

To celebrate the launch of evolve — a new suite of programming championing transformational leadership — I spoke with Judy to discuss her personal philosophy on leadership and the importance of being an authentic leader.


In this installation of Back to the Future, we're thrilled to host a conversation between Tracie Neuhaus, Senior Manager of Monitor Institute by Deloitte, and Michele Prichard, Senior Director for Strategic Initiatives at the Liberty Hill Foundation.

Tracie and Michele tackle the trends emerging from our changing workforce, the potential implications these shifts will have in exacerbating income inequality in our most vulnerable communities, and the role philanthropy can play in spearheading innovation for an equitable future.


What is the role of art in social justice movements? What are the opportunities for artists and funders to strengthen their collaboration? To answer these questions, we invited James E. Herr, Program Officer at the Annenberg Foundation, and Vijay Gupta, Founder and Artistic Director of Street Symphony, a non-profit organization providing musical engagement for homeless and incarcerated communities in Los Angeles, to explore the vital role and potential of art in today's world. 



DEC 02 | Right to Housing


DEC 03 | Awake to Woke to Work: Building a Race Equity Culture


DEC 04 | Traditions Of Giving: Rekindling Our Connections


JAN 16 | Human-Centered Design Thinking



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What is the Future of Work?: A Conversation with Tracie Neuhaus and Michele Prichard

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

What is the Future of Work?: A Conversation with Tracie Neuhaus and Michele Prichard

SCG's Back to the Future blog series is a collection of conversations with philanthropic leaders exploring the key trends that shape the contours of the future. This series aims to expand our thinking on a variety of issue areas, as well as provide funders with the insights necessary to maximize their impact. 

What is the future of work? How are governments and businesses preparing for change? What is philanthropy’s role in helping workers and society at large manage this transition with the least possible disruption, while maximizing the potential benefits? 

At SCG’s 2019 Annual Conference: Foresight Philanthropy, we invited Tracie Neuhaus, Senior Manager at Monitor Institute by Deloitte, and Michele Prichard, Senior Director for Strategic Initiatives at the Liberty Hill Foundation, to participate in two sessions regarding the future of our workforce. In “Great Scott! Back to the Future of Work” and “Labor, Climate Change, and a Just Transition: Building a Future for People and the Planet,” Tracie and Michele, respectively tackled the prevailing myths and trends emerging from our changing economy and the potential implications these shifts will have in exacerbating income inequality with our most vulnerable workers and communities. 

We sat with Tracie and Michele post-conference for a conversation on the shifts happening with our workforce and discussed the role philanthropy can play in spearheading innovation for an equitable future. 


What are the factors most likely to shape our future workforce and economy?

MP: The most high-profile changes are artificial intelligence and the urgent need for a shift to a low-carbon economy, raising the possibility that many of today’s jobs might not exist in five or ten years. We need to be prepared to address the challenges that will result from the loss of these positions. At the same time, these technological and energy resource changes will also produce new jobs that require different skill sets. To fill these roles and keep up with these rapid technological breakthroughs, we will need to focus on developing our future workers, while also continuing the reskilling of our current workforce. Lastly, the notion of a “Just Transition” will also play a significant role as we begin shifting our energy systems from a fossil fuel-based, carbon-intensive economic model, into —what we must do —a zero-carbon, 100% clean renewable energy model.

TN: I want to elaborate on Michele’s first response because it captures the central tension around artificial intelligence, specifically what is currently known as the “myth of automation.” Automation is not necessarily going to replace workers as much as it’s going to fundamentally change what work looks like for front line workers in many industries. Let’s think about how a manufacturing or construction worker’s job might change. Rather than having a routine responsibility in a factory, workers will now be responsible for interacting with advanced equipment and will need to know how to problem-solve in real-time. They will be working side-by-side with these robots to program them but also to address issues critically and creatively as they arise. Workers will need skills to become more technologically fluid in order to interact with machines instead of being replaced by them. 

Another trend affecting our workforce is the development of the “gig economy.” I think people often associate things like freelance work and independent contractors as being inherently negative byproducts of our economy. But the reality is that this is what employment looks like for many people now: some people have a small side-business, others drive for rideshare services, some rent their apartment, and many do this all while they have a full-time job. Increasingly, I think we are going to see workers piece together their gigs into an employment portfolio. While there are negative consequences of this shift that need to be addressed, I think we need to reconsider the idea that people have just one full-time, 40-hour a week job and that’s what qualifies as a “good job.” Going forward, I think we will see a more flexible economy where everyone will begin to have a diverse portfolio of employment. 

In addition, I think where work happens is changing. For example, most people believe that the majority of construction work happens “on-site,” with workers living and working in that specific area. However, Deloitte’s research around the construction and manufacturing sectors shows that technological developments are actually blurring this geographic assumption. We’re seeing construction companies build modular homes off-site and then ship that home elsewhere to be erected. Alongside the rise of remote positions, we might see a change in where jobs are offered and how industries restructure themselves to adapt. 


What opportunities do funders have in preparing our future workforce?

MP: One opportunity funders have is to invest in research that helps us better understand the biggest economic drivers influencing the changing nature of work. The truth is we don’t have great data. 

TN: That’s an important point. Our data is outdated and we don't fully understand how jobs are changing, how work is changing, and how it's impacting different populations. We need help solving this big data piece in order to understand the bigger picture and identify who's going to be impacted most and when. 

MP: Another opportunity funders have is investing in organizations that are working to reskill the workforce through training and education programs. We need to invest in initiatives that create job pathways in historically disenfranchised communities. A great example of this work is illustrated by the great success that apprenticeship programs, such as the Utility Pre-Craft Trainee Program developed by the LA DWP and Local 11 of the IBEW,  are having. Employers are not only paying people to learn a skill, but they are also committing to employ them once they complete their education and training. Some even go a step further and ensure that these jobs are targeted to the communities that need them most, including low-income populations, geographically isolated communities, disabled veterans, formerly incarcerated individuals, and others. 

The conversations around universal basic income also presents a compelling opportunity to support our workers and other individuals who might be automated “out” of the job market in the future. This idea pre-figures the fact that today’s jobs may not exist and that there might not be enough jobs to employ the population at the level it needs for income security. To maintain economic stability and minimize the impact on our most vulnerable communities, advocates are promoting the idea of a universal basic income, along with moving the entire workforce towards a family-supporting living wage. There’s still significant work to be done on this front, but I’d encourage funders interested in these policy proposals to begin investing in research in this area and support organizations working to build momentum. 

TN: I also want to tackle this problem of employment but from an angle that is new for philanthropy. When you think about the workforce and the employment ecosystem, there are the supply side, the demand side, and how matching traditionally happens between workers and employers. Historically, philanthropy has focused on funding workforce organizations, workforce intermediaries, and the nonprofit sector to work with employers and get people hired. Many foundations believe it’s not their place to interface with employers. There’s an opportunity for philanthropy to work more directly with the private sector to shift employer behaviors and address the emerging issues in our workforce. 

An example of this dynamic emerged from Deloitte’s work with several organizations in Boston who’ve spent time interviewing employers. There was a collective sentiment that while the majority of funding understandably goes toward workforce organizations, if funders are looking for employers to behave differently, they also need to find ways to listen to and help employers and nonprofits who are working to develop innovative programs. The truth is that employers are often scrounging trying to close gaps in the system and don’t always have the capacity to invest in new programs or solutions.

MP: Do you believe this requires philanthropy to make a shift in its approach to funding?

TN: Employers need to move beyond thinking of workforce funding as charity and begin to consider how engaging different talent sources and different organizations can be good for business. The scale of the problem, particularly in California, is so vast that even if you had all these workforce organizations trying to address the problem together, it’s not enough. Employers are significant leverage points in the system and funders should consider working with them more directly to fund and seed innovative programs that will address these issues from a variety of angles.

What can funders do to prioritize the needs of low income communities, communities of color, and other populations that will be most impacted to ensure that our transition is equitable?

MP: Foremost, I believe philanthropy needs to collaborate with and fund groups that come directly from the communities they wish to support. Because community leaders hold so much knowledge and wisdom, they need to be equal partners in figuring out what their future looks like. I encourage funders to engage with advocacy organizations, unions, elected officials, and other major stakeholders to think about policies that support families and children in becoming healthy, productive members of our society. 

Additionally, many of our public systems are not working the way they’re supposed to, and philanthropy has historically come in and tried to fill in the gaps with the latest innovative ideas. Instead, I would like to see philanthropy increase its investment in programs that leverage public sector spending. Philanthropy should be strategic about how, with our limited dollars, we can leverage the influence of government purchasing power and spending to achieve much bigger systems change for our historically disenfranchised communities. 

TN:  I agree with Michele. Oftentimes, we focus on the deficits of certain communities and create programs that don’t recognize their assets and strengths. There is this pervasive idea that low-income communities don’t know how to make progress. In reality, they can be some of the most resourceful and innovative people around because they’ve had to figure out how to make ends meet and provide for their families. Instead of saying “I’ve got the answer and we’re going to do another training,” how can we uplift the great ideas that are coming from the communities themselves? We need to refocus our premise on building from the ground up by giving communities the tools they need to help themselves.


If you would like additional reading on the future of work, review our “Great Scott! Back to the Future of Work” presentation which debunks common myths around our changing workforce and includes Deloitte’s case-study on supporting workers in the age of automation. We also recommend The Climate Equity Network’s report “A Roadmap to an Equitable Low-Carbon Future: Four Pillars for a Just Transition.”


Other Back to the Future Blogs: 

"Nothing Without Us": SCG's Journey to Inclusive Design

Trends in Education Philanthropy: A Q&A with Celine Coggins

The Future of Art Funding: A Conversation with Vijay Gupta and James Herr


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Becoming an Authentic Leader: A Conversation with Christine Essel and Judy Belk

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

To celebrate the launch of evolve — a new suite of programming championing transformational leadership — Christine Essel held a conversation with Judy Belk to discuss her personal philosophy on leadership and the skills needed to be an authentic leader.


Judy Belk leads The California Wellness Foundation in pursuing its mission to improve the health of the people of California. In her role, she uses her vision and her voice to help Cal Wellness “level the playing field” so that everyone has access to good-paying jobs, safe neighborhoods, and quality health care services.


Christine Essel: The world is coming at us much faster than it has in the past. Things are changing through technology, through global communications, through the political landscape alongside all the divisions and views on how the world should work. So given all that, what do you see as the most significant challenges philanthropy leaders are facing today?


Judy Belk: The challenges we are facing today are very different than those we might have encountered 20 years ago. Our workforce is changing drastically in terms of diversity, skill sets, and career aspirations. Workers, especially millennials, increasingly want to be part of organizations that reflect their values. In philanthropy, we’re fortunate to come to work every day equipped with our mission of serving the broad community. But regardless of whether it’s the nonprofit or private sectors, our working population doesn’t want to make the decision of putting aside their views about service when choosing a career path. 


Christine Essel: Our sector is certainly not immune to these challenges and must embrace the future of work. In my career, I’ve always enjoyed building teams that not only perform well together but are also professionally satisfied with their work and can grow in their jobs. I’m also aware that the ways in which I can accomplish this goal are inherently changing. In your opinion, how do the rapid shifts above require leaders to adapt?


Judy Belk: These changes and challenges have been weighing on my mind lately. As demographics shift in our workforce, we can’t merely look at what people do. We must instead examine how people do their jobs and identify the ingredients that help them flourish. 

I’ve always been interested in the human side of organizational design. Throughout my career, I’ve worked in government, nonprofits, and corporations. I’ve consistently paid attention to leaders in those organizations — to leaders who brought out the best in me and those who, in my estimation, fell short. I asked myself why I did my best work under the guidance of certain leaders and why I was not my authentic self in other situations. These questions have taken me through a journey of contemplating my leadership role and style. I’ve drawn upon my own experiences to challenge my current thinking about ways to bring the best out of folks. 


Christine Essel: I appreciate you mentioning authenticity. In recent years, we have come around to the importance of building authentic brands for mission-driven organizations. However, the nonprofit sector has not been at the forefront of investing in internal culture. Do you see a shift in our field toward empowering our leaders to be more authentic at work?


Judy Belk: In a large corporation, there are a variety of ways that people could move up, move across, and move laterally throughout their career growth. In small nonprofit organizations, it is undeniably a struggle to get and keep the talent. I’m personally excited by the conversations among CEOs and health funders in Los Angeles and nationally around building a learning culture of motivating others. We are asking ourselves critical questions about professional development opportunities, coaching,  ways to help folks bring their full self into the organization, and what wellness means in terms of balancing work and family demands. I don’t think the philanthropy sector was thinking and pushing these ideas 10 or 20 years ago. 


Christine Essel: How are you embodying this culture shift at The California Wellness Foundation?


Judy Belk: There has been significant research guiding us to reflect upon and practice authentic leadership. One of the leaders whom I admire is Ernie Wilson, a board member of The California Wellness Foundation and founder of the USC Center for Third Space Thinking. He champions a fresh way of thinking rooted in five key competencies required for success in today’s ever-changing world: adaptability, cultural competency, empathy, intellectual curiosity, and 360-degree thinking. 

I find the Third Space thinking helpful in considering how performances develop, how we hire at Cal Wellness, and how folks are compensated. In our work, we put our values front and center while also cultivating  respect, integrity, excellence, learning, and trust. We’re building the optimal environment where team members are willing to try, to fail, and to learn from both successes and failures. We are looking to motivate individuals to use critical thinking in identifying new possibilities, and to employ creative problem solving to challenge the status quo.


Christine Essel: With these holistic internal practices, what are the skills that you hope to develop in leaders?


Judy Belk: I genuinely believe there’s very little that any of us can do without collaborating. And we can’t discuss effective collaboration without self-awareness, empathy, and humility. We must be able to recognize how our actions are making a difference and understand how our behaviors impact other team members on a day to day basis. 

It’s also important to be thoughtful and have the courage of one's convictions. It’s been a lifetime quest for me to show courage, which could be vastly different for everyone. In a team, I hope that being courageous means speaking our minds, acting in accordance with our beliefs, being willing to walk the talk, and being held accountable for our actions. 

These skills are often referred to as soft skills; I consider them essential skills. Even though we all need technical skills to do our jobs, we cannot do them well without being our authentic selves.


Christine Essel: You mentioned empathy as an essential skill for leaders. I cannot agree with you more as I believe we can’t be fully present and listen to others without showing compassion. What does it mean for you to show up as an empathetic leader?


Judy Belk: Recognizing and overcoming the blind spot about empathy has guided me through a lot of tough conversations. In the workplace, it’s often easy to focus solely on the “tip of the iceberg” – a team member’s visible behaviors that we can all observe. However, it takes empathy to consider that someone might not be able to deliver their best work because of unspoken reasons below the iceberg. In those cases, I regularly ask myself whether I haven’t been clear on setting the vision or if my team members don’t have the skills or resources to do the work. Those tough conversations might lead to difficult decisions. Ultimately, empathy allows me to address the problem and make those decisions in a respectful way.


Christine Essel: It seems evident that in order to be empathetic, you must have self-awareness. And to show empathy to others, you might need to show courage. How did you build up these essential skills?


Judy Belk: I’ve been on a journey to learn these skills as a leader. And I feel a lot of gratitude to the leaders in my life who took a chance on me. When Bob Haas, former CEO of Levi Strauss, gave me the opportunity to lead, I certainly wasn’t the most experienced. The same with Melissa Berman who gave me the opportunity to build Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors into a global philanthropic presence. Both organizations invested in training me to become a skillful leader. I appreciate those moments and spaces in my career to truly consider not only what I did at work, but how I did it and which values I was holding when I made certain decisions. 


Christine Essel: In order to show up as your full self at work — to be self-aware, empathetic, courageous — what do you do to take care of yourself?


Judy Belk: First of all, writing is really important to me and has been a constant thread in both my personal and professional lives. I write to figure things out. I write to take care of myself.

Then, I have a strong support system. They’re primarily women who have known me for a long time and thought I was pretty cool even before I became a CEO. I trust these women who all know me well. I’ve also been fortunate in terms of love, of a life partner who keeps me sane. I always say, “Find work that you love, find a partner that you love even more.” 

In smaller ways, I take care of myself sometimes by taking short breaks and sitting in the sun. The water inspires me, and so I spend a lot of time walking on the beach. 

Most importantly, I am working on being fully present in all interactions and look for opportunities to express gratitude in both my personal and work lives.




JAN 16 | Human-Centered Design Thinking

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Trends in Education Philanthropy: A Q&A with Celine Coggins (Back to the Future)

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Trends in Education Philanthropy: A Q&A with Celine Coggins, Executive Director of Grantmakers for Education 

SCG's Back to the Future blog series is a collection of conversations with philanthropic leaders exploring the key trends that shape the contours of the future. This series aims to expand our thinking on a variety of issue areas, as well as provide funders with the insights necessary to maximize their impact. 

At our 2019 Annual Conference: Foresight Philanthropy, we welcomed Celine Coggins, founder of Teach Plus and current Executive Director of Grantmakers for Education, to lead the panel “Redefining Education Philanthropy: Trends and Implications for Future Learners.” Celine shared key headlines from Grantmakers for Education’s latest edition of “Trends in Education Philanthropy: Benchmarking 2018-19” a report tracking the shifting priorities of the education funding community over the past ten years. Alongside leaders from First 5 LA, College Future Foundation, and the California Community Foundation, Celine outlined the profound investment shifts happening at every level in education and explored the future direction of education policy. 

We sat with Celine after the panel to delve deeper into the report’s highlights and to discuss critical opportunities for education funders. 


What are the biggest shifts and trends happening in education philanthropy?

CC: To start, we’re seeing significant growth in post-secondary education followed by a growing interest in early childhood education. Our 2018 survey results show that 56% of surveyed funders are now funding postsecondary education, a 10% increase since 2015 and the largest increase in the topic areas we surveyed. Regarding early childhood, we found that one-third of survey respondents are funding this area and three-out-of-five of those funders expect to increase their giving in the next two years. While this only accounts for 4% of total education funding, it is the topic that is projected to see the most growth of all the areas surveyed. In effect, we’re seeing an increased interest in funding the bookends of K-12 education. Funders are more interested in preparing learners for success before kindergarten and are prioritizing postsecondary in order to prepare learners for an evolving labor force. 

Second, when you look exclusively at the K-12 space, you’ll notice a funding shift away from new school models, core academics like curriculum standards and assessments, and teacher preparation in the classroom. There is now a movement toward “the whole child” which includes wraparound supports, more family engagement, and social and emotional learning initiatives that center the “whole learner.” Although this accounts for only 3% of reported education funding, respondents identified social and emotional learning as the trend that could have the largest potential impact on education over the next five years. 

And third, there has been a tremendous loss of faith in the government, especially the federal government, in providing leadership and funding on education issues. In our 2018 survey, only 17% of respondents held a “moderately favorable” view of the policy environment at the federal level (the majority fell in the unfavorable category, a small percentage had no opinion). There are many reasons for this move away from the federal government, but what this means is that funders are now interested in focusing their grantmaking at the local level. 


What are three key opportunities for education funders in the next five years?

CC: The rapid growth in the post-secondary space has transformed it into a magnet for new funders. The sheer number of dollars going into it right now —  42% of total grant dollars —  is creating the potential for system-level levers to be pulled. I think that’s very promising. 

We're also seeing good research on early childhood education and the need for social and emotional learning to help students address traumas they’ve experienced and to think critically about racial injustice and bias. Although we’re seeing a high number of funders stepping into these areas, they’re entering at a fairly low-dollar threshold which isn’t enough to change the system. As more people learn about those spaces, I think there’s an opportunity for funders to work together to achieve greater impact. 

Finally, I think there's an opportunity to reflect on the field of education philanthropy as a whole. What have we learned from the last stage that has led to the kind of dramatic shifts that we've seen over the past few years? Without actually learning from these changes, we're not going to reach the level of coherence and system-level strategy that we need in order to move into the next phase.


What impact are education funders having in our evolving workforce?

CC: Education funders are actually really interested in this topic. Alongside postsecondary, workforce and career readiness funding also experienced significant growth in 2018. Coupled together, these two funding areas currently make up almost half of all education funding. 

One reason for this trend is that the Corporate Social Responsibility arms of many private enterprises are looking at the current labor force and saying, "this workforce is not adequate to the kind of technical challenges of the job that I'm looking to fill." Take for example, IBM’s Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools (P-TECH) training model which grew out of these insufficiencies. Their Pathways model starts at high school and continues into college to help equip individuals with the right skills to enter their workforce. We’re beginning to see a lot of push in this high school to college pathway. 


What are some key ways you’ve seen education funders collaborate with their stakeholders?

CC: The short answer is that there are two ways: one is by learning and one is by doing. I think oftentimes we try to jump to the doing without conducting a deep analysis of what we know or how we’re working together. What are the constraints that exist within our own philanthropic organization? What are the things that our trustees care about and struggle with? There’s an opportunity to talk across differences and to learn how to learn about these topics together. Those are the type of conversations that often don’t happen when we jump too quickly into action. In regards to the doing, I think there are many opportunities for funders to collaborate and take action, including figuring out how to share power, how to listen to communities, and how to ensure that grantmaking gets done in a way that really resonates with the communities they’re working in. I really love the efforts around uplifting student’s voices in the K-12 space and figuring out how we can reach a place of having authentic voices in the conversation.


As we move into the next decade, what are your hopes for philanthropists in the education sectors?

CC: As a sector, we do very little with the science of learning. When we train educators, we do very little with brain development: how learning happens, how bias forms, and how trauma impacts learning. I would hope that we push for educators to be trained in those things. I would hope that philanthropy becomes a standard-bearer in saying, "Education is a field that has a scientific basis, and we need to make sure that this scientific framework is being incorporated in every school, for every kid."


If you would like to explore these trends in greater detail, visit Grantmakers for Education’s website and access their full report.


Other Back to the Future Blogs: 

"Nothing Without Us": SCG's Journey to Inclusive Design

The Future of Art Funding: A Conversation with Vijay Gupta and James Herr

What is the Future of Work?: A Conversation with Tracie Neuhaus and Michele Prichard


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Nothing Without Us: SCG's Journey to Inclusive Design (Back to the Future)

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

"Nothing Without Us": SCG's Journey to Inclusive Design 

SCG's Back to the Future blog series is a collection of conversations with philanthropic leaders exploring the key trends that shape the contours of the future. This series aims to expand our thinking on a variety of issue areas, as well as provide funders with the insights necessary to maximize their impact. 

By Dave Sheldon


Imagine a village where no one has a disability. One day, a villager returns to town with a disability and instead of being cast aside, they are celebrated. The entire community rejoices in their increased diversity and their newfound opportunity to learn.  


Candace Cable, nine-time Paralympian and Vice-Chair of the Bid Committee for LA 2028, shared this story at our full-day disability conference, “Enabling Foundations, Nonprofits, and Partners to Include People with Disabilities.” Not only did this story serve to reframe disability to our 120 attendees, but it also presented a north star for what our collective spaces could become. 

This year, the team at Southern California Grantmakers worked diligently to implement the principles of universal design and accessibility into our events, starting with our disability inclusion conference and most recently with our 2019 Annual Conference: Foresight Philanthropy. While we still have a long way to go, the lessons we learned have dramatically changed how we design our programs and have shown us the universal benefits of inclusive design. 

Before anything, I want to acknowledge that the ideas and strategies discussed here aren’t new — they’re just new to most foundations and nonprofits. Up until this year, SCG had barely scratched the surface on disability inclusion through a staff development workshop and a disability inclusion panel at our 2018 Annual Conference: Our Common Humanity. However, disability organizers and advocates have spent decades pioneering work around access and inclusion. They’ve worked to develop a critical, intersectional framework that interrogates the systems that create exclusionary environments, while simultaneously (re)imagining a world that accounts for everyone, from the very beginning. And this year, it became clearer that our members were ready to invest in a world without barriers.  


Inclusion Begins at Co-Creation

“You can ask the people around you ‘is our community accessible?’ And once you start asking those questions, you'll start noticing barriers, which hopefully will lead you to remove those barriers. Because if you don't do anything, the barriers will continue to exist until somebody removes them.” - Haben Girma on taking the first steps to universal inclusion


SCG had never hosted a full-day conference on disability, nor had we ever approached events through a sophisticated accessibility lens. In planning “Enabling Foundations, Nonprofits, and Partners to Include People with Disabilities,” we became aware that our first challenge was simply knowing where to start. Luckily, we had some incredible partners — including The Ford Foundation, WITH Foundation, Weingart Foundation, Mizrahi Family Charitable Fund, and Craig H. Nielsen Foundation —   who supported us from our initial planning phases until the very end. This event was possible because of them, and their unyielding belief that we could create a day that would resonate across the sector. 

Listen to People with Lived Experience

Our first (and arguably most important) lesson came early: at all phases of planning a disability learning opportunity, you need to seek out the input of disability leaders to inform and co-create the day. For too long, the narratives of people with disabilities have been told by others and decisions have been made regarding the community without consulting them. In staying true to "Nothing Without Us,” we made sure that the voices of those with lived experience had input at all stages, especially when designing the programmatic pieces for the day. It is crucial to seek critical expertise from disability rights organizations to lead these sessions and facilitate the dialogues. 

In addition, throughout the entire process, we needed to be receptive to feedback from our partners, speakers, and guests with disabilities--and be willing to course-correct our approach so that everyone could fully participate. If you need help finding experts or generating ideas for panels, visit our website to view our full disability conference agenda

Broaden Your Event Planning Scope 

Organizing a stellar, full-day disability conference will mean little if your event invitation and event space are inaccessible to potential attendees. Designing inclusive communications and event logistics requires you to go beyond general compliance by proactively incorporating accessibility strategies into your event. This, of course, means that you need to expand your scope and consult with disability advocates to see how your planning can ensure the most active and inclusive participation for all individuals, whether that means asking speakers how they prefer to speak to a room (sitting, standing, or something else), or providing sign language interpretation. 

For example, we believed it to be sufficient to include a sentence in our email communications indicating that attendees contact us if they needed additional accommodations. However, at no point did we consider that our emails and website might not be accessible to screen readers that many people use. Similarly, while we secured an American Sign Language interpreter for the day, we didn’t have a variety of microphone options to accommodate facilitators with different needs. These were all elements we didn’t account for because we didn’t realize how limited our scope was. It was essential to collaborate with our partners to not only produce a day full of rich learnings, but to ensure that our community could even attend.

If you would like more tips and resources to make your events and communications more accessible, visit our Disability Conference Resource Page


Looking Ahead Toward Universal Inclusion

“It’s people that create justice. Communities create justice. All of us face the choice to accept unfairness or advocate for justice.” - Haben Girma


We had the pleasure of interviewing Haben Girma, the first deaf-blind person to graduate from Harvard Law School, after her keynote address at our 2019 Annual Conference. SCG had invited Haben to be a plenary speaker weeks before hosting our full-day disability conference which proved to be exceptional timing; Haben shared invaluable sights on how to deepen our disability inclusion work.

“Inclusion is a choice,” Haben stated, “and we all make the choice to be more accessible to connect with people that are different than us. When you do that, you role model inclusion for everyone else around you and encourage your colleagues and members in your community to also invest in inclusion with people with disabilities.” 

Both of these events required us to take risks, but we were driven by the possibility of co-creating a meaningful and powerful day for so many people. We started with the fundamental question, “is our community accessible?” and acknowledged that we had a lot to learn and do. “I wasn’t born knowing how to remove barriers,” Haben continued, “but I’ve gone through a journey of learning this process of removing barriers.” 

We knew this to be true. We knew that we couldn’t wait until we felt ready-- we would never know everything, but we would learn from doing. By the time our Annual Conference came around, we had collected our insights from our full-day disability inclusion conference and applied them to our largest gathering of grantmakers to date. We’re still far from universal design, but these incremental changes are encouraging. As our partners consistently reminded us, “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good when it comes to planning disability-focused learning events.”

But universally inclusive events are not the end-goal. We’ve also begun to explore how to pursue disability inclusion in all facets of our strategy. How can redesign our digital accounts to be more accessible and inclusive of everyone? How can our members sharpen their grantmaking strategies to be more inclusive of disability issues and justice? How can we move away from one-off “inspirational tokenism” and better incorporate disability programming year-round? As Haben reinforced, “Anything is possible to be made accessible if the community makes an effort to remove barriers.” 

These events gave us the opportunity to reimagine our internal mindsets and strategies, to rethink how we are living into our values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. I continue to carry Candice’s story with me, not just for its aspirational quality, but because radical possibilities and solutions start with our imaginations of what’s possible. As Haben declared, “Stories are powerful. Stories influence the organizations we design. The products we build, and the futures we imagine for ourselves.”


Other Back to the Future Blogs: 

Trends in Education Philanthropy: A Q&A with Celine Coggins

The Future of Art Funding: A Conversation with Vijay Gupta and James Herr

What is the Future of Work?: A Conversation with Tracie Neuhaus and Michele Prichard


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SCG's President's Message - September 2019

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Dear SCG Community, 

Predicting the future is a daunting task, but I got a glimpse of it at SCG's 2019 Annual Conference, Foresight Philanthropy. Over 700 changemakers came together that day to collectively imagine what a better, more equitable California could look like. I’m happy to say that our future has the potential to be innovative, inclusive, and truly limitless. 

The ideas we exchanged were vast, plentiful, and deeply impactful. Using our three conference pillars, I would like to share my key takeaways with all of you. 

We have the power to create a future that is truly inclusive and accessible to everyone. Our current systems have been formed by historic inequities designed to benefit specific populations and exclude others. Keynote speaker Dr. Bryant Marks reminded us of the importance of challenging our accepted histories in order to create a future free of historic biases, while Haben Girma reinforced that systemic barriers won't disappear on their own. We need to actively work to remove the barriers that prevent inclusion; only then can we imagine equitable solutions for the complex problems affecting redistricting, our workforce, and the education sector. An equitable future requires us to convene a diverse set of experiences in order to broaden our collective imagination and expand the horizon of what’s possible. 

From impact investing to community-driven philanthropy, our sessions provided our attendees ample opportunities to build their professional and future-focused skill sets. I continue to reflect on Trista Harris’ teachings on integrating futurism into our work by taking a small action like dedicating 5% of your weekly work-time to thinking about the future, to doing something as grand as building a 50 year vision for your organization. It was a reminder that we have the potential to be limitless, curious, and courageous. 

Foresight Philanthropy was a product of and testament to thoughtful, cross-sector collaboration. Leaders from many fields came together to discuss the latest work and opportunities in the fields of arts & social justice, mass incarceration, climate change, and more. The power of this convergence was demonstrated during our closing plenary which showcased the partnership between Third Sector, Ballmer Group, and the LA County Department of Mental Health. This groundbreaking initiative is working to engineer outcomes-oriented service delivery across DMH funding streams and LA County health & human services agencies. Together, they are modeling the power of a cross-sector collaboration to impact the life outcomes for thousands of Angelenos. It's increasingly clear that catalyzing systems change requires new, unexplored forms of collaboration. 

But that’s only scratching the surface of our time together. Below, you will find a compilation of all of our Foresight Philanthropy videos, pictures, and resources from the day. In the coming weeks, we will also be sharing our "Back to the Future" series that will further explore key conference topics and accelerate our development as philanthropic futurists. 

Thank you again to everyone who attended our largest convening to date. I cannot express how excited I am for the future the SCG network is building. 


Christine Essel

President & CEO, Southern California Grantmakers


From inspiring speakers to dynamic performances, Foresight Philanthropy was full of vibrant energy from start to finish! We're happy to announce that SCG members have exclusive access to all of our videos from the conference. Relive the day by watching videos of our morning performance, opening keynote, and all of our plenaries below. 


You can also view all of our conference photos by checking out the Foresight Philanthropy photo album on Facebook! 



With 15 breakout sessions and 4 keynote plenaries, our 2019 Annual Conference was home to a plethora of readings, toolkits, and supplementary learning resources. We have compiled a Foresight Philanthropy Resource Page in order to house all of these resources and continue the exchange of knowledge. 



At Foresight Philanthropy, we had the opportunity to partner with "I am a voter," a nonpartisan campaign that aims to create a cultural shift around voting and civic engagement. By unifying Americans around the central truth that democracy works best when we all participate, they hope to increase voter participation among young and diverse Americans (18-35) in the 2020 Presidential election and beyond. 

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SCG President's Message - August 2019

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Dear SCG Community,


With SCG's 2019 Annual Conference less than two weeks away, I would like to take this opportunity to share some reflections on our conference theme, Foresight Philanthropy.

The future, with its constellation of knowns and unknowns, inevitably rushes upon us all. But grantmakers need only look at our most vulnerable communities to see how often it arrives with disproportionate force. While each of our organizations work individually on bold plans for tomorrow, millions of Californians have little choice but to focus on the immediacy of today — the uncertainties of how they’ll get food on their tables, secure safe places to sleep, or address an unexpected health challenge.

As a sector, we must fully embrace this urgency as our own. It is at the very core of our work, our families, our common humanity. Knowing this, we must then ask: how can we truly see and support the community wisdom, the cross-sector partnerships, and the deep healing needed for powerful changes that will best sustain California in the decades ahead? 

Foresight Philanthropy will offer us the opportunity to learn from changemakers who are preparing our country for a host of demographic, economic, and environmental shifts. It invites each of us to look ahead and envision a just and equitable future.

For years, futurism — the study of trends to anticipate and plan for events yet to come — has been an effective practice left largely to government agencies and to titans of industry. But, in our present climate of rapidly advancing technology, dynamic population shifts, and a widening wealth gap, an unavoidable truth has emerged: the decisions philanthropy makes today will have compounding, long-term impacts on the communities we serve. To address that reality, we’ll need to lift our collective gaze well beyond the next funding cycle and innovate alongside the leaders of tomorrow. 

Whether you are attending Foresight Philanthropy or not, I hope that you will follow the conversations we are having via Twitter #SCGAnnualCon19. The experts speaking at this conference are renowned for examining the trends that shape the contours of the future. Across a wide breadth of topics — future of work, gender justice and racial equities, universal design, education, climate change, and more — their voices have enlightened CEOs, championed innovation, and proven indispensable within their communities. On September 9, they will share their valuable insights with us. 

As they do, we will undoubtedly confront some challenging truths. Preparing for the future invariably means unpacking the misconceptions of the past — and creating a more equitable tomorrow will no doubt force us to confront biases we hold unconsciously today.

Amidst such moments of self-reflection, it’s worth remembering the study of futurism offers up no fixed future. Rather, it presents us with a set of choices in the present that can help us prepare for a wide variety of outcomes. The more clearly we see the paths ahead, the better we can choose those that bend towards justice, doing our part to bring it closer for all.

In short, our future is, as it has always been, ours for the making. I hope that our virtual and in-person conversations with speakers and peers alike will spark exciting ideas and collaborations that bring our desired future nearer to reality. Thank you again for being part of the SCG community and for adding your vision and voice to the future we are creating together — for the SCG community, the philanthropy sector, and our impact on the issues that matter most.

I look forward to seeing you at Foresight Philanthropy or hearing from you online via our live conference reporting on Twitter #SCGAnnualCon19.


Best Regards,

Christine Essel

President & CEO, Southern California Grantmakers

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SCG President's Message - July 2019

Friday, July 26, 2019

Recapping our 2019 Family Philanthropy Conference & Philanthropy California Updates 

Dear SCG Family, 


Last month, our SCG family foundation community came together for our Family Foundation Conference, Unpacking Power Dynamics with Cultural Humility. This gathering was one of largest yet, and it epitomized philanthropy's power to achieve significant community impact while being grounded in empathy and humility. 

The topics we discussed were challenging and timely. We talked candidly about our collective privilege and what it means to share and build power with our community partners to create a more equitable future. I am grateful to all of our members who approach their work with curiosity and self-reflection. You can review key themes from the conference here

I am proud that every aspect of this conference was driven and shaped by the SCG Family Philanthropy Advisory Council. I saw our members leave the conference equipped with fresh perspectives, renewed empathy, and a deeper humility. I am eager to continue these conversations at the SCG 2019 Annual Conference: Foresight Philanthropy, where we will reimagine and work toward a more equitable future.


Christine Essel
President & CEO, Southern California Grantmakers


Register for our 2019 Annual Conference: Foresight Philanthropy

Creating a More Equitable Future

SCG’s 2019 Annual Conference: Foresight Philanthropy, is the gateway for funders to sharpen your grantmaking strategies, invigorate cross-sector collaborations, and get ready to be more dynamic changemakers by using the tools of futurism. Join over 600 colleagues for a day filled with interactive plenaries, inspiring keynote speakers, and skill-building workshops designed to embolden us to become philanthropic futurists. Members whose office is located outside LA County may use the discount code AC2019Travel to receive a $75 discount in recognition of your travel.



Philanthropy California Updates 

Nation's First Gender Justice Fund Launches $10 Million Collaborative to Change Culture and Advance Gender Justice

We are what we speak! From #MeToo to unconstitutional attacks on abortion, the fight for gender justice is happening now. Philanthropy California is proud to partner with the Women's Foundation of California and other leaders to launch a new $10M Culture Change Fund. A first of its kind, the Culture Change Fund is launching to address how the nation understands gender justice and to promote culture change as a key solution to systemic problems. Philanthropy California will co-lead the Gender Justice Network with the Women's Foundation, and will provide gender justice-focused programming and educational opportunities to its members. Learn more about the Culture Change Fund below. 



Siz Strategies to Increase Disaster Resiliency in California

California Volunteers has released a report outlining six investment strategies to amplify whole community emergency preparedness. channel private-sector, nonprofit, community-based, and faith-based resources to spur cross-sector coordination, and bolster the capacity of local communities to strengthen resilience. 



Philanthropy California has stepped up to lead one of the six strategies, fostering community-based disaster preparedness, response, and recovery by developing more coordinated and proactive plans and processes for funding. Stay tuned for a disaster relief summit hosted by Philanthropy California later this year! The gathering will bring together statewide funders to clarify the variety of roles funders can play in developing equitable disaster response and recovery grantmaking strategies. 



Interested in learning more about philanthropy’s role in disaster relief? Attend Reimagining Philanthropy’s Role in Building Resilient Communities: Addressing Extreme Natural Events Head On to learn the science behind California disasters and resilience investments, the role philanthropy, and how members can engage in these issues now and in the future.



Citizenship Question Will Not Be Included in the 2020 Census: Our Fight for an Accurate Count Continues

The Administration is no longer pursuing the inclusion of a citizenship question in the 2020 Census after The Supreme Court of the United States blocked the citizenship question from being added to the questionnaire. While this decision is an important victory for fairness, justice, and democracy, there is still significant work ahead to ensure a fair and accurate count of all Californians – and the future of our state. 



If you are interested in creating fair and transparent district boundaries that serve the best interests of the people of California you can apply to be a part of the 2020 Citizens Redistricting Commission.



SCG News

Announcing Our 2019-2021 Senior Peer-to-Peer Network!

SCG is delighted to announce that we have selected our candidates for the 2019-2021 Senior Peer-to-Peer Network! This exciting peer-learning professional development program will be led by Judy Belk, President and CEO of The California Wellness Foundation, and will bring together senior-level program staff from SCG member organizations. The group will explore topics related to philanthropic leadership development, collaborative philanthropic impact, philanthropy trends, and each member’s professional and personal goals. We will be sharing more updates on cohort members and their work in the coming months! For now, meet our cohort: 


Naomi Strongin - Senior Program Officer, The Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles

Phylene Wiggins - Vice President, Programs & Grants, Ventura County Community Foundation

Vanessa Silberman - Senior Director of Communications & Strategic Initiatives, Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation

Jennifer Lieberstein - Senior Program Advisor, The Atlas Family Foundation

Sara Montrose - Program Officer, Weingart Foundation

Jolene Fassbinder - Program Officer, Archstone Foundation

Talia Gibas - Professional Development Programs Manager, Los Angeles County

Erin Westphal - Program Officer, The SCAN Foundation

Rafael Gonzalez - Director of Community Relations, First 5 LA

Rebecca Newman - Program Officer, The Rose Hills Foundation

Sheri Dunn Berry - Director of Programs, Community Partners

Chaitali Gala - Chief Operating Officer, Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation

Ellen Young - Vice President, Irvine Health Foundation

James Alva - Senior VP & Market Manager, Citi Community Development

Sarah Belnick - Program Director, ECMC Foundation


Videos: 50th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage & Tongva Tribe Walking Tour

In April, Truth Racial Healing & Transformation – Los Angeles hosted a Tongva History Walk of Downtown Los Angeles and took part in the 50th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage. Both events reaffirmed our commitment to holding space for truth-telling and healing, filled our hearts with humility, and left us with much to reflect upon: in order to heal, grow, and make progress, our society must have greater awareness of our history. Watch two beautiful videos chronicling the Tongva History Walk and Manzanar Pilgrimage.



In Case You Missed It

July Family Philanthropy Newsletter SCG'S quarterly newsletter highlighting original content created by family foundations, community news, and resources. 

June Public Policy Roundup SCG'S monthly newsletter featuring the latest on public policy issues and legislative spotlights. 

June Corporate Brief SCG'S monthly newsletter on corporate social responsibility and corporate philanthropy news, events, and peer profiles.

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SCG President's Message - May 2019

Wednesday, May 15, 2019
This month, SCG'S President & CEO Chis Essel has offered our staff her platform to share key takeaways from our 2019 Public Policy Conference, learnings and resources from recent Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation - Los Angeles programs, member news, and more.


Post-Policy Conference Takeaways and SCG’s Newly Expanded Public Policy Agenda

Tuly Martinez, Director, Programs and Conferences; Seyron Foo, Director, Public Policy and Government Relations

Key Takeaways for Funders from the 2019 Public Policy Conference, Conference California: The Road Ahead


As we reflect on last month’s Public Policy Conference, it’s clearer than ever that philanthropy has a significant role to play in public policy. With over 300 funders and community leaders in attendance, the conference illustrated that advocacy is a critical tool in the philanthropic toolbox and that public-private partnerships are among our most promising vehicles for change.

Below are just a few key takeaways for funders from the day’s dynamic conversations (be sure to visit this resource page for more valuable insights from each session):

  • Across various state budget initiatives, a common theme is the recognition that children and families do not face isolated challenges or live in silos. Addressing deep poverty requires a multitude of simultaneous, coordinated investments—amongst which philanthropy’s direct monetary contribution can only create a relatively small impact. Therefore, funders might want to consider using policy, advocacy and communications campaigns to scale systems change efforts.
  • California has three interconnected crises: homelessness, housing affordability and healthcare access. Put simply, it’s difficult to access healthcare if you do not have a place to live. Philanthropy can: (1) Get involved in tax laws/state budgets, which have the single biggest impact on the lives of people in poverty; (2) Change the narrative: Housing is a systemic issue, not an individual one; (3) Elevate the voices of people most impacted by building power through community organizing networks; and, (4) Advance budgetary and legislative change through our own advocacy and by supporting active voting at the ballot box, including for equitable implementation of laws.
  • Philanthropy has a role to play in redistricting reform—ensuring that the rules of the game are fair and that politicians have to serve voters. To learn more about redistricting, read a blog post by Connie Malloy Portfolio Director of the James Irvine Foundation and join a Redistricting 101 webinar on May 28, co-presented by SCG and Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrant and Refugees.
  • The “north star” for justice reinvestments for young people in Los Angeles is for no children to remain in the county youth prison system. In order to reach this goal, a larger coalition of partners will be needed.
  • While many of us are trained to create structural systems change by focusing on policies and practices, transformative systems change requires working on “hidden” conditions that are holding a problem in place. Funders need to recognize and address relationships, power dynamics, events, patterns/trends and deeply held beliefs.
  • To alleviate race and gender wealth gaps, funders can broaden the reach of private-public partnerships. For example, LIFT-LA focuses on financial literacy and education, helping families overcome burdensome debt and build pathways to access and gain wealth. Funders can also support robust public policies to address cash-based need and debt alleviation, e.g., expanding the California Earned Income Tax Credit or children’s savings accounts.

An Exciting Next Step for SCG’s Policy Work


Since the creation of our public policy agenda, SCG has worked with members to lay out key areas of focus for our advocacy work. Earlier this year, SCG’s Public Policy Committee took a bold step by articulating an informed position and strategy recommendation on each of our priority issues. We have long recognized that philanthropy’s immense intellectual capital must be shared to support community-led solutions and drive evidence-based public policy, and this agenda now anchors us to further deepen our public policy engagement. It spells out our perspective on key issue areas that underpin and drive our advocacy. Reviewed on an annual basis by our Public Policy Committee, the agenda guides the SCG team as we identify opportunities where philanthropy’s voice can positively shape outcomes.


Our next major effort in the policy realm is Philanthropy in the State Capitol, coming up on May 21 and 22. We are thrilled that 30 of your colleagues will be among our delegation in Sacramento, joining another 10 funders from across the state through Philanthropy California. We will continue to share updates and outcomes from this event, as well as ongoing public policy efforts. If you have any questions or would like to become more involved in this work, contact Seyron Foo, Director of Public Policy and Government Relations.



Honoring and Confronting Our Past to Pave Ways for Racial Healing

Adele Lee, Director, Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation - Los Angeles

In April, Truth Racial Healing & Transformation – Los Angeles hosted a Tongva History Walk of Downtown Los Angeles and took part in the 50th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage. Both events filled our hearts with humility and left us with much to reflect upon: in order to heal, grow, and make progress, our society must have greater awareness of our history.

Presented in collaboration with local Tongva leaders Cindi Alvitre, Julia Bogany, Desiree Martinez, and Craig Torres, the Tongva History Walk attempted to re-envision the landscape of Downtown Los Angeles as Yaanga—the village where Tongva and Gabrieleno communities lived prior to contact with European settlers and missionaries in the late 1700s. Throughout the program, participants got a glimpse into indigenous worldviews that highlight our current relationships with water and nature, public spaces, oral histories, land, and ancestry. As the Tongva leaders fought through a cacophony of traffic and city noises in order to guide us through the Yaanga Plaque, Placita Olvera, Union Station, and other unacknowledged sites, we were poignantly reminded of the indigenous communities who are constantly struggling to be seen and heard.


For half a century, over 1,000 people from all walks of life have traveled from locations far and wide to Manzanar, the first of the American concentration camps in which more than 120,000 Japanese Americans and their immigrant parents were unjustly incarcerated during World War II. Partnering with Vigilant Love during the 50th Manzanar Pilgrimage, our TRHT-LA community was joined by a multi-ethnic and inter-spiritual delegation of Muslim Americans, Japanese Americans and many others. Standing in the sweltering desert heat at the foot of the majestic Sierra Nevada with an alliance of diverse Americans who have come together in solidarity, we believed more strongly than ever that during this time of deep division, love is stronger than hate. Today, we must not only share the truth about past wrongs created by individual and systemic racism, but also celebrate the beauty of what it means to show up for one another and to see one’s self in each other.



Meet SCG's New Members

Armanino Foundation (San Ramon, CA)

Assist charitable organizations that create a positive impact on the lives of people in our communities

Arts Council for Long Beach (Long Beach, CA)

Foster creativity and culture, enliven communities and enable a thriving creative economy 

Golden State Opportunity Foundation (Los Angeles, CA)

Spread awareness of the Federal and California Earned Income Tax Credit (CAL EITC), as well as other public benefits, and promotes free tax preparation services 

Hope and Heal Fund (Washington, D.C.)

Harness the collective power of individuals, communities, government, and philanthropy in order to ensure homes and communities in California are safe and free from gun death, injury, and trauma

LA Partnership for Early Childhood Investment (Los Angeles, CA)

To invest in and promote innovations that advance the lifelong health and well-being of LA County children, age 0-5 

Manufacturers Bank (Los Angeles, CA)

To support the communities they serve by working closely with non-profit organizations to help them achieve their purpose

WITH Foundation (Palo Alto, CA)

To promote the establishment of comprehensive healthcare for adults with developmental disabilities that is designed to address their unique and fundamental needs 



Member and Community News

Grantmakers Salary and Benefits Survey

Council on Foundations

Since 1980, the Council's Grantmaker Salary and Benefits Survey has provided the sector with the most comprehensive data on staff composition and compensation in the U.S. Survey participants receive a copy of the full and board compensation reports in October.


John W. Mack Movement Building Fellows Pilot Program

Application Deadline: June 17, 2019

The Weingart Foundation is excited to launch a pilot fellowship designed to strengthen the pipeline of next-generation social justice and racial equity leaders in Los Angeles County. 


Turning Thoughts and Prayers into Action: Religious Pluralism in the Era of Hate

Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

Conrad N. Hilton Foundation launches an initiative to connect local and national funders whose work touches religious pluralism with a cross-section of local community leaders, content and experts.


White Nationalism: Count it, Condemn it, Confront it

Nathan Cummings Foundation

The Nathan Cummings Foundation speaks out against white nationalism and calls on the field of philanthropy to come together to #deactivatehate.




In Case You Missed It

April Public Policy Roundup - SCG's monthly newsletter featuring the latest on public policy issues and legislative spotlights.

April Corporate Brief - SCG's monthly newsletter on corporate social responsibility and corporate philanthropy news, events, and peer profiles.

Family Philanthropy Newsletter - SCG's quarterly newsletter highlighting original content created by family foundations, community news, and resources.



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SCG President's Message - April 2019

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Dear Colleagues:

On the heels of last month’s Foundations on the Hill event in Washington, DC and heading into next week’s sold-out SCG Public Policy Conference and next month’s Philanthropy in the State Capitol delegation, I am feeling very energized about our sector’s power to catalyze positive impact at scale through policy. In healthcare, education, homelessness and a multitude of other social issues, public policy affects so much of what we seek to achieve through our grantmaking—even if we’re not directly engaging in what’s often called “systems change.”

Personally, I saw this vividly at last month’s program presented by our Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation – Los Angeles (TRHT-LA) initiative. Together with many SCG members, we visited an extraordinary exhibit called Undesign the Redline where we learned firsthand about the connection between intentional and structural racism and the racially segregated housing policies of the 1930s that have led to many of today’s political and social issues. (See more below).

As we in philanthropy aspire to create change in the communities we serve, we have more to give than just financial resources. In March, more than 20 returning and new members joined our Philanthropy California delegation representing our statewide alliance with Northern California and San Diego Grantmakers at the annual Foundations on the Hill event in Washington DC, where they met with members of Congress to share philanthropy’s unique expertise and perspective. We are also working diligently with Philanthropy California and many other partners to fight for a fair and accurate count in the upcoming 2020 Census, including submitting our first-ever amicus curiae brief to the United States Supreme Court. You’ll find more detail below on how you can stay informed and get involved.

We look forward to learning from and connecting with over 350 of you at next Monday’s Public Policy Conference. Inspired by the theme “California: The Road Ahead,” we worked with your philanthropic peers to design a conference agenda and assemble a diverse group of experts and leaders to guide us through a day of interactive and thought-provoking conversations. The fact that the conference sells out and attendance levels set new records every year is evidence that public policy is now integral to the work of the philanthropic sector. 


#SCGPolicyCon19 is finally here next Monday. We look forward to connecting with peers and
gaining powerful ideas and insights to advance our work and lead meaningful change


Finally, whether you are a public policy novice or an experienced pro, we invite you to join us next month in Sacramento for our annual Philanthropy in the State Capitol event. From May 21-22, our members will meet with state policymakers to share our unique perspective on the issues we fund, educate legislators and the administration about philanthropy’s role in civil society, and build relationships with fellow policy-oriented funders and policymakers. (And for those of you who just can’t get enough, don’t forget to sign up for our Public Policy Roundup newsletter!)

Of course, even though these opportunities for policy impact are front-of-mind right now, there’s always more going on here at SCG in our topic-focused programs, professional development, and peer groups. Please read on for updates across the full scope of our work.

From all of us at SCG, thank you for your interest in Southern California philanthropy and your continued commitment to serving our communities.

Christine Essel
President and CEO
Southern California Grantmakers


Philanthropy California Goes to Washington, DC for 2019 Foundations on the Hill

Last month, SCG members joined our Philanthropy California delegation in Washington, DC for the annual Foundations on the Hill gathering. Over the course of two jam-packed days, our delegation met with and educated over 30 lawmakers from both political parties on several topics of importance to our sector, including the 2020 Census, disaster resiliency, early childhood development, and issues related to veterans and people with disabilities.


At the 2019 Foundations on the Hill, Philanthropy California delegation met with the offices of (counterclockwise)
Representative Kevin McCarthy; Representative Adam Schiff; and Representative Alan Lowenthal, among others


These meetings are more than just ceremonial and yield tangible results. Last year, for instance, our delegation was part of the wave of education and advocacy that helped prevent attempts to repeal the Johnson Amendment as a part of an omnibus spending bill, and provided key insights that informed Committee oversight hearings on the 2020 Census.


Philanthropy California Takes Action on 2020 Census

This past Monday, April 1 was an important milestone: exactly one year left until the official start of the 2020 Census. SCG marked the date by joining with Philanthropy California in issuing this statement about the critical importance of the upcoming Census and what actions funders can take to help ensure a full and fair count.

That same day, Philanthropy California jointly led the submission of an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief that was filed with the U.S. Supreme Court opposing the citizenship question on the Census, which would undoubtedly discourage participation in the Census. Together with The Bauman Foundation and Funders' Committee for Civic Participation, Philanthropy California coordinated 30 private foundations, community foundations, and philanthropy serving organizations across the country as co-signers. I should note that it is highly unusual for philanthropy to file an amicus brief. We chose to do so because undercounting hurts philanthropy’s ability to have reliable data to drive our assessments, tailor solutions, make data-driven investments and identify outcomes and measure progress in achieving our goals, and ultimately, our mission.

The time for funders to act on the Census is growing short, and the stakes are high. We are working with so many of you to help ensure a fair and accurate count of all Californians because Census data also informs how more than $76 billion for federal programs is allocated and how political districts are drawn in the state. Going forward, Philanthropy California is convening funders interested in the Census in Oakland on April 9 to learn about state and funders’ investments to-date, on-the-ground outreach efforts, and how to get connected to this statewide movement. And on April 16, we at SCG will make the case about the importance of a fair Census count to our corporate members.


Learning from the Past in Our Undesign the Redline Program

On March 18, SCG and TRHT-LA, in partnership with Enterprise Community Partners and Designing the WE, hosted a private, docent-led tour and panel discussion of Undesign the Redline—a one-of-a-kind interactive exhibit exploring the history of race, class and U.S. housing policy, and how this legacy of inequity and exclusion continues to shape our communities.

The docents and panelists did a wonderful job of explaining redlining and engaging us in a spirited discussion about how to consider equity in our grantmaking strategies. For me, a central lesson from this program was that we must explicitly and directly address equity—specifically racial equity—if we want to effectively address political and social problems in our society. Otherwise we will perpetuate the very systems and structures that originally created these conditions and that continue today.

While the exhibit has moved on from Los Angeles, I encourage everyone to learn more about redlining by visiting the Undesign the Redline site or by reading The Color of Law, an excellent book by Richard Rothstein that several SCG staff members and I have read.




Undesign the Redline docents (L to R) Mary Lee, PolicyLink (former) and Braden Crooks, Designing the WE


(L to R): Mary Lee, PolicyLink (former); Beatriz Solís, The California Endowment; Fred Ali, Weingart Foundation; Jacqueline Waggoner, Enterprise Community Partners; Braden Crooks, Designing the WE


Welcome Debbie McKeon to the Philanthropy California Family

 Next week, Debbie McKeon will start her role as President and CEO of San Diego Grantmakers.

As Executive Vice President and COO of the Council of Michigan Foundations for over six years, Debbie brings a wealth of experience in public policy that will serve SDG and the Philanthropy California alliance well.

We at SCG and Philanthropy California are excited to welcome Debbie to California and look forward to working closely with her as she takes the helm of the excellent team at SDG.



Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation – Los Angeles Releases New Video About 2019 National Day of Racial Healing

In January, our TRHT-LA team observed the 2019 National Day of Racial Healing with a multi-day series of programs grounded in truth-telling, movement, dialogues, workshops and musical performances. Whether or not you were able to attend one of these events, I encourage you to check out this outstanding video chronicling the week’s events.

Check out this great new video about the 2019 National Day of Racial Healing from our TRHT-LA team.


SCG News

I am pleased to welcome a new staff member to the growing SCG team and recognize another staff member on a well-deserved accolade.

 Alexis Smart is the new Associate, Membership and Grants at SCG.  Alexis supports our membership team with grants, conference sponsorships, member renewals, and new member development and engagement. Welcome, Alexis!


 SCG’s Director, Public Policy and Government Relations Seyron Foo has been selected to participate in the American Express Leadership Academy Global Alumni Summit, which brings together 80 emerging social purpose leaders with representatives from the American Express Leadership Academy partners for continued professional development, relationship-building and collaboration. Congratulation, Seyron!


Program Roundup

At the recent LA Arts Funders Meeting at the Center Theatre Group (CTG) on March 14, we took a behind-the-scenes look at the CTG’s Block Party initiative, an investment in the LA County theater ecosystem through the sharing of audiences, ideas and resources.

On March 19, we hosted Dr. Lucy Bernholz from Stanford University’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (Stanford PACS) Digital Civil Society Lab at Digital Impact for Grantmakers, an action-oriented workshop uniquely designed for grantmakers to examine, build and improve their organizations’ digital data governance practices and policies. One of the key takeaways from Dr. Bernholz: “If an organization can’t protect data, it shouldn’t collect it!”

At the March 20 meeting of the Foundation Aging Network, we explored the Master Plan for Aging for California. SCG member The SCAN Foundation and the West Foundation have been working with gubernatorial candidates and now the new administration around this issue. 

Finally, on March 26, presenters from the Southern California Capacity Building Collaborative showed funders how they could help address the targeted capacity building needs of Southern California nonprofits by building a regional collaborative that will focus on nonprofit sustainability in an innovative new way.


Coming Up

We hope to see you at these upcoming events:

View Full List of Upcoming Events

Funding Issue Area & Geographic Regions
News type 
Geographic Location 

SCG President's Message - March 2019

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Dear Colleagues:

The month of February was short but action-packed – in the world around us and at SCG. Just in the last few weeks, the President declared a national emergency along the US-Mexico border, the Supreme Court announced it will decide whether the Census will include a citizenship question, and over a dozen leaders have already declared their candidacy for the 2020 presidential race.

Meanwhile, here in the SCG community, we are taking action too. As you’ll read below, in February more than 400 people in the broader SCG network learned to see our implicit biases more clearly. Many of us, myself included, are preparing to join a Philanthropy California delegation of over 20 staff members and philanthropy leaders representing our statewide alliance with Northern California Grantmakers and San Diego Grantmakers at next week’s Foundations on the Hill trip to Washington, DC. We are planning to meet with more than 30 legislators and agencies to share philanthropy’s unique voice on the issues that matter most in our work. And the entire SCG team is working hard to bring you a robust Public Policy Conference on April 8th focusing on how our new Governor and new policymakers in Washington—and all of these constant news headlines—might affect your philanthropic agenda.
In fact, we recently announced the Public Policy Conference’s opening plenary session, “The Whole Child - From Cradle to Career: A Generational Opportunity to Lift California’s Most Impoverished Children and Families” – as well as other sessions on the California budget, homelessness, opportunity zones, justice reinvestment for young people and more.This conference will sell out, so please be sure to register now to join us for a day of candid conversations about our sector's role in strengthening our communities.


Join us at #SCGPolicyCon19 to connect with peers and gain powerful ideas and insights to advance your work and lead meaningful change

Please keep reading below or check out our website or social media accounts for ways to get involved in these and other SCG programs. And please know that we at SCG want to be of value to you in your important work – so please do not hesitate to reach out to us with any questions or suggestions. We’re here for you!

As always, thank you for being part of the Southern California philanthropy community.

Christine Essel
President and CEO
Southern California Grantmakers

Hundreds Trained on the Importance of Addressing Implicit Bias in Our Work

Following last year’s Annual Conference, at which leading expert Dr. Bryant T. Marks, Sr. led a breakout session on implicit bias in philanthropy, we heard from many of you asking us to go deeper into the topic to help you in your work. In January and February, SCG and our Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation – Los Angeles (TRHT-LA) team took the next step in answering this call by hosting a series of deep-dive implicit bias trainings conducted by Dr. Marks for our partners in nonprofit, philanthropy and government, as well as with our own staff. Collectively, Dr. Marks trained over 400 people in our region about the importance of recognizing and addressing implicit bias in their work!

As Dr. Marks pointed out (see these resources from his training at our Annual Conference), we all have biases, but the impact of our biases on others depends on the roles we play in society. For our sector, implicit biases affect the priorities set and supported by funders and grantmaking organizations. (For more on this topic, see this op-ed in The NonProfit Times that I wrote back in December). Recognizing and reducing these biases that lurk in all of us at the personal and organizational level is a crucial step toward helping our sector do our work better.

I personally want to thank Dr. Marks and those who attended the workshops for taking the time to dig into what can be a difficult subject for many. I know that I gained tremendous insights from our staff time with Dr. Marks, and the response from so many of our members and partners to his trainings has been superb. So if you missed this round of trainings, stay tuned for future opportunities!


Panelists Seek to Strengthen the Safety Net at Title X Program

On February 21, we hosted a powerful and informative program entitled Weakening the Safety Net: A Close Look at Title X. As many of you know, Title X provides critical federal funding for family planning and women’s reproductive health. In California, the Title X program serves more than one million people; in SCG’s eight county service area, more than 450,000 people receive Title X services.

The timing of this program was not coincidental. SCG’s public policy team works with our member to track relevant rules and regulations, which led us to identify that the federal government was contemplating a major shift that would dramatically weaken the safety net that many of our funders are trying to create for families, especially for underserved communities and people of color. Make no mistake: this is an issue of equity.

And indeed, a mere day after the program, on February 22, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced a “gag rule” that would bar organizations that provide abortion referrals from receiving Title X funding, a step that could strip millions of dollars from California’s federally qualified health centers.

Panelists and SCG staff and Board members meet to talk about the threats to Title X funding in California

In response to the proposed rule, Essential Access Health—whose President and CEO, Julie Rabinovitz, was a panelist at our program—sued the Administration over the regulations and issued the following statement.

“The regulations posted … by the Trump administration represent some of the most extreme policy shifts in the history of the Title X family planning program. These changes counter clinical best practices and established medical ethics standards… If implemented, the regulations could devastate California’s Title X provider network and result in increased wait times and delays in patient access to time-sensitive care throughout the state.

Please be sure to visit our Title X program resources page, where you will find a map of Title X recipients in California, Essential Access Health’s Strategic Plan, and a knowledge capture from the program.


SCG News

Some of you have recently noticed that SCG is growing. As I’ve shared before, we are indeed reorganizing and expanding so we can deepen and strengthen our work and value in the ways that our members and partners are seeking. I am very excited to introduce you to several new members of the SCG team.



Monica Banks

Monica Banks is the new Associate, Professional Development/Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation - Los Angeles (TRHT-LA). She will provide administrative and clerical support to both the programs and TRHT team. 

Katy Pelissier

Katy Pelissier is the new Manager, Programs & Conferences. Katy will be responsible for developing and implementing programs and conferences at SCG, and supporting peer networking and collaboration.


Tegan Joseph Mosugu

Tegan Joseph Mosugu is the new Manager, Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation – Los Angeles. Tegan will assist with the development and implementation of TRHT-LA programs and events and will serve as the primary contact of all programmatic, logistical and administrative aspects of TRHT-LA.

 Anna Song

Anna Song is the new Assistant, Public Policy and Government Relations. In this role, Anna will support the SCG Public Policy and Government Relations team with research, advocacy and government relations projects.


Program Roundup

At the program entitled A New Governor, Legislature and Congress: Implications for Southern California’s Environment on February 22, we discussed how existing and new policies under the leadership of California’s new governor, Gavin Newsom, will impact climate change, water related issues, public lands and ecosystem protection and air quality.

Panelists and attendees have a spirited discussion about California’s environment under Governor Newsom

As a part of our Not-for-Profit Education Series, we presented a Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) Update on February 25. At this meeting, Rick Cole, Supervising Project Manager for the FASB, provided key insights into relevant and current topics for not-for-profits, including an overview of the new standards’ key elements, a deeper dive into the upcoming standards on revenue recognition, not-for-profit grants, contracts and financial reporting accounting standards; the standards’ implementation issues; and practical examples for implementation of the new standards

On February 28, we presented with the generous support of the David Bohnett Foundation an LGBTQ Professionals Network Reception with Immigration Equality Executive Director Aaron Morris. A few days prior to the event, Immigration Equality scored a legal victory for its clients when a federal judge ruled that the child of a same-sex bi-national couple was a citizen since birth, rejecting the position taken by the U.S. Department of State that disenfranchised the child.

Left to right: Dave Sheldon, SCG; Mitch Singer, Singer Philanthropy; Aaron Morris, Immigration Equality; Paul Moore, David Bohnett Foundation; Kameron Green, SCG; Seyron Foo, SCG


Coming Up

We hope to see you at these upcoming events:

View Full List of Upcoming Events

SCG President's Message - February 2019

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Dear Colleagues:

With January already behind us and February now bringing us into Black History Month and the Lunar New Year, I'm hoping that your 2019 is off to a good start. From where I sit, it’s already clear that this will not be a time for business-as-usual for our sector, or indeed for anyone. Here at SCG, in the past month alone, our Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation – Los Angeles team hosted a week of events centered around the 2019 National Day of Racial Healing. We also announced that through our Philanthropy California alliance, we are collaborating with the Women’s Foundation of California to take on gender-based discrimination and violence. And we began a training series on Implicit Bias for our partners in nonprofit, government, and philanthropy—including a full-day retreat for our own SCG staff. I’m grateful to so many of you for joining us at these events, and in this work. Together, we are part of a national movement in philanthropy for racial justice and equity, as you can see in this video from our friends at the United Philanthropy Forum.

I’m also thrilled to tell you that SCG is investing in our ability to support your work. We are adding several new staff, whom you’ll meet in the article below. This brings our team to 21 full-time employees, so we can do even more to bring you exceptional programs and events, a compelling voice on public policy, impactful cross-sector collaborations, and valuable communications products.

Our SCG team is here to help you make the most of your membership this year to propel your own work and amplify your impact. Please reach out if you’d like to brainstorm how you or your team can get involved (remember, SCG membership is organizational!). I hope you’ll come learn the latest at our programs and conferences; share your expertise and your questions in a peer group; take action on a policy initiative to scale change on your issues; or forward an SCG email or tag a friend on one of our social media posts to share news and resources. That’s the power of the SCG community: when you add your leadership to the mix, you multiply your impact. Your participation makes everyone’s work better, stronger, and more effective.

As always, keep reading below for upcoming opportunities and to catch up on recent developments. Last but not least, I want to wish you a peaceful and productive 2019. Let’s do this… together!

Christine Essel
President & CEO, Southern California Grantmakers

PS – Here are a few important save-the-dates for this year:


Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation – Los Angeles Marks 2019 National Day of Racial Healing with a Series of Events

Following the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, which my Northern California Grantmakers counterpart Ellen LaPointe and her organization commemorated with some very moving articles, and leading into Black History Month, we observed the 2019 National Day of Racial Healing. This day is a call for intergenerational healing, a celebration of our common humanity and a commitment to action to create a more just and equitable world.

Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation – Los Angeles (TRHT-LA), which is coordinated by SCG, marked the event with the theme Hand in Hand and a multi-day series of programs grounded in truth-telling, movement, dialogues, workshops, and musical performances. Some of the highlights included:

  • A Liberation through Capoeira workshop that explored the Afro-Brazilian cultural practice developed by enslaved Africans in Brazil as a tool for liberation, self-determination, expression and survival;
  • A Blanket Exercise that took participants through an interactive process to learn about the oppression and colonization of Native peoples and lands;
  • A powerful concert by Los Angeles artist Georgia Anne Muldrow whose revolutionary sound provided inspiration and restoration through music;
  • A workshop about plant interventions that helped participants revisit their relationships with plants, plant medicine and ancestral healing practices;
  • Multiple racial healing dialogues throughout Southern California that encouraged participants to talk about race and racism; and
  • A livestream experience curated by award-winning director Ava Duvernay


A few of many treasured moments from the National Day of Racial Healing events put on by TRHT-LA

I was personally inspired both by the breadth of programs that our team put on and by their ability to catalyze social change through cultural and healing arts. While our region—and our whole country—still have a long way to go to confront our dark history and current reality of racial segregation and hierarchy, being in community at TRHT-LA events allows us to be at the heart of racial healing.


Join us for the 2019 Public Policy Conference and Foundations on the Hill!

SCG has two outstanding opportunities where you can learn, connect and take action to advance your work through public policy.

From March 11-13, join our Philanthropy California delegation for the 2019 Foundations on the Hill (FOTH), a two-day event that brings together hundreds of foundation leaders from across the country to Washington, DC to meet with members of Congress and other policymakers to discuss issues of critical importance to philanthropy. FOTH is our opportunity to share the work of philanthropy so that policymakers can take the best practices developed from your grantmaking and scale it up to improve the lives of millions who call our country home. With new Members of Congress joining the California delegation, it is especially important that we build strong relationships with our policymakers that can have profound impact on grantmaking and issues we care about.


Join us in Washington DC in March to lift up philanthropy’s voice with key policymakers


I am also pleased to announce that registration is now open for SCG’s 2019 Public Policy Conference, which will take place on April 8. This conference is the preeminent convening in our region that brings together hundreds of your peers from the philanthropic and civic sectors to take an in-depth look at the latest policy analysis and research and to prepare for and address key issues affecting our work. Presented in partnership with the California Budget & Policy Center, this year's conference will hone in on the changing public policy landscape in an environment led by a new Governor and the wave of other new policymakers in Sacramento and Washington.


Join us at #SCGPolicyCon19 to connect with peers and gain powerful ideas and insights to advance your work and lead meaningful change


Many thanks to Bank of America as our Presenting Sponsor, and to all of our sponsors. Please contact Amanda Byrd for info on sponsorship opportunities.


Welcome New Members

Below are SCG’s newest members from the last quarter. Please click on their links to learn more about them in our Member Directory.

I want to welcome our new members and thank all of our members for their continued support, leadership and willingness to collaborate. I encourage new and long-standing members alike to reach out and connect with one another—via one or more of our peer groups or otherwise—to see how best to work together and deepen our impact. 



SCG News

SCG is growing to meet the needs of our members and the work ahead for our sector. I am so excited to welcome several new members to our already outstanding staff.

 Jacqueline Carrillo

Jacqueline Carrillo is the new Coordinator, Programs and Conferences. Jacqueline supports the Programs and Conferences team by developing and implementing high quality programs and conferences. She is also responsible for providing infrastructure and logistical coordination.

 Crystal Hand

Crystal Hand is the new Associate, Statewide Technology at SCG. Crystal will support the development, implementation and management of online technology for SCG and Philanthropy California.

 Jan Kern

Jan Kern, our long time consultant and former SCG employee, re-joined our staff in December as Senior Philanthropy Advisor. Jan will be working with our Family Philanthropy members, facilitating our Health Funders Group meetings and supporting other collaborations and projects.

Jessica LeTarte

Jessica LeTarte is the new Coordinator, Collaboration and Community Building. Jessica will bring a wealth of experience in focusing on the inner workings of an office, including procedures and processes, interpersonal communications and conference planning, as well as a deep commitment to teambuilding, racial equity and organizational culture.


Program Roundup

At our first LA Arts Funders Meeting held this year on January 10, we dove into a new set of thematic case studies on distributed leadership commissioned by the Hewlett Foundation Performing Arts Program that explore how some organizations are addressing an era of rapid generational, technological, economic and demographic change by evolving their leadership practices to involve staff at all levels.

On January 11 and 14, we hosted our nonprofit partners in two separate workshops about Addressing Implicit Bias in Nonprofit Organizations. Dr. Bryant T. Marks, Sr., a national expert on implicit bias, engaged attendees in a deep-dive workshop into how implicit bias shows up in ourselves and in nonprofit organizations, and how they can change their personal and organizational behaviors and practices. In addition to these workshops for nonprofit organizations, SCG is offering additional workshops this month for funders and our partners in government.

On January 16, a panel of experts joined us for the program What Will our Next Governor Do for California’s Young Children and their Families? A large group of over 70 members were excited to hear how Governor Gavin Newsom would deliver on campaign promises to expand high-quality early education programs, establish universal preschool and improve child care programs for the youngest children given California’s strong economy and budget surplus.

SCG President's 2018 End of Year Message: Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Monday, December 10, 2018

Dear Colleagues,

This past year has been extraordinary—and extraordinarily difficult. There is so much going on in our region, country and around the world that I hardly know where to begin. The mass murder in Thousand Oaks and too many others around the nation. The state’s worst wildfires in Southern and Northern California. A humanitarian crisis at the border, racism and racial inequity, sexual harassment and assault. On a more positive note, the midterm elections in November, with their massive voter turnout and influx of newly elected women and people of color, has revealed vividly how our polarized country is beginning to work through these major political, social, and cultural issues.
And just when the pace of current events shows no signs of slowing down, this past year saw our organization and our members soar to new highs in our work—at precisely the time when our efforts were most needed. In 2018, we collectively took on incredibly thorny topics including immigration, healthcare, homelessness, education and the environment, among many others. SCG aspires to be the place where funders come together to make sense of these and other crucial issues of our day, look for short- and long-term solutions and co-create the future. Please know that as these disasters and crises become “the new abnormal,” we at SCG and our Philanthropy California alliance are doing everything we can to support our members and funders to address and respond to them.
As we move into 2019, I hope you’ll join me looking back at our work to assess the impact of what we accomplished together – and at our roadmap for how the SCG community can continue our efforts to live up to the challenges and opportunities of this moment. Please take a moment to check out highlights of our lessons learned and future plans, which I’m sharing via our website using the three-track framework that we developed at our 2018 Annual Conference:


Engaging in Effective Collaboration
& Partnerships

Advancing Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

Developing Professional Skills

During the past few years of my tenure at SCG—and in the last year in particular—we have grown so much together, in our scope and impact and courage. Looking ahead to 2019 and beyond, we’re reorganizing and expanding so we can deepen and strengthen our work and value in the ways that our members and partners are seeking:

  • Providing issue-based programming utilizing an intersectional approach
  • Designing professional development programming that helps funders take bold action for equitable outcomes
  • Pursuing robust, nimble action on our policy positions
  • Convening and facilitating collaborations and partnerships
  • Investing in our own sustainability and capacity to lead as an organization with equity at the center of our work

Over the next few months, we are adding new people across the organization, which gives us the capacity to elevate many of our excellent current staff, as you can see from their new titles.

We are very excited about this next step of our evolution; and we hope you are, too.

As we close out this year and look ahead to next year, I want to acknowledge and thank SCG’s incredible staff, board and especially our members. I am humbled and honored to lead an organization that collaborates to tackle the issues that matter most. I’m looking forward to continuing our work together in 2019.

Season's Greetings from SCG

In the meantime, the SCG team and I wish you a happy holiday season and a peaceful New Year.

Christine Essel
President and CEO
Southern California Grantmakers


Jump to:

Engaging in Effective Collaboration & Partnerships

Lifting Philanthropy's Voice

2020 Census

Center for Strategic Partnerships

Advancing Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

SCG 2018 Annual Conference: Our Common Humanity

Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation - Los Angeles

Developing Professional Skills

Peer Group Learning and Collaboration

Full Cost Project

Engaging in Effective Collaboration & Partnerships


Lifting Philanthropy’s Voice


Philanthropy California stood strong on issues such as family separations and public charge


Philanthropy California delegation on the State Assembly Floor for Philanthropy in Sacramento Day



  • SCG and Philanthropy California, our alliance with Northern California and San Diego California Grantmakers representing more than 600 members, led multiple efforts that leveraged philanthropy's voice at the local, state and federal levels
  • In June, Philanthropy California members became part of a wave of civic outrage about the Administration’s misguided “zero tolerance” policy on the U.S.-Mexico border
  • In November, we took “support” positions on Propositions 1 (affordable housing bond) and 2 (mental health housing bond) in the midterm election
  • Over the past few months, we have co-lead a #ProtectFamilies campaign, which includes, among other things, organizing and joining over 25 other signers on a full-page ad opposing new public charge regulations


  • Our work helped win victories on the Administration’s family separation policy and the two November ballot measures above
  • More funders are raising their voices and driving the change they want to see by funding these important issues; and even more are telling us that they are starting to move in that direction.



2020 Census

Philanthropy California delegation meets with Senator Dianne Feinstein to discuss 2020 Census



  • As highlighted by our 2018 Public Policy Conference, we convened a number of regional and statewide meetings throughout the year geared toward educating our members and others about the crucial importance of adequately funding a fair and accurate 2020 Census in which everyone counts
  • SCG and Philanthropy California are members of the Census 2020 Statewide Funders Initiative, which is charged with tackling Census issues in the state
  • In March, we met with members of Congress and other federal agencies to raise concerns about placing a question related to citizenship on the Census, which would plummet participation and starve California of its fair share of federal resources. We also encouraged our members to submit public comment to the US Department of Commerce on the citizenship question.
  • In May, our Philanthropy California delegation sat down with leaders in Sacramento to discussed the need for full funding for Census efforts in the state


  • As a result of our delegation’s timely discussions with key policymakers, we successfully helped to secure $90 million in the California budget, more than doubling the governor’s proposed funding for the Census
  • Over 30 funders signed on to our public comment opposing the citizenship question on the Census
  • Our members are gaining a wider understanding of how the Census will affect everything they care about


  • We are planning many more meetings about the Census, including three statewide convenings in partnership with The California Endowment, and a meeting specifically for our corporate members
  • We will also continue our advocacy efforts to ensure a fair and accurate count


Center for Strategic Partnerships

(L to R) Mary Lou Fulton, The California Endowment; Chris Essel, Southern California Grantmakers; HIlda S. Solis, Los Angeles County Supervisor; Aileen Adams, The Weingart Foundation; Jennifer Price-Letscher, Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, after the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to establish the Center for Strategic Partnerships within the County



  • Launched in 2016 as an initiative of SCG and Los Angeles County in which SCG continues to provide counsel and fiscal agent support, the newly-renamed Center for Strategic Partnerships is a nationally-recognized collaboration between government and philanthropy that has effectively brought together stakeholders to align strategies and efforts to tackle some of the most pressing problems experienced by families in the County. Since its launch, the Center has helped its partners co-invest more than $4.5 million to transform the County’s system serving vulnerable youth and families
  • In September, the County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a motion permanently establishing the Center within the County, moving it to the Chief Executive’s Office and expanding its scope


  • The Board’s decision to make the Center permanent positions it for much broader impact on issues beyond child welfare
  • This model of collaboration between philanthropy and government has demonstrated the power of thoughtful, deliberate and focused efforts to empower the most vulnerable in our communities


  • Early next year, the Center will complete a Strategic Planning process, setting forth a new shared agenda, metrics for success and mechanisms for stakeholder input

Advancing Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

SCG 2018 Annual Conference: Our Common Humanity


Artist Daniel Beaty on how philanthropy can use a trauma-informed lens to support real healing in communities: “Achievement does not equal wellness”


Professor john a. powell: “Othering is the problem of the 21st century… in the United States, the primary form of othering is racism.”



  • SCG’s programming over the past several years has increasingly focused on how systemic racial, gender and other inequities create and perpetuate the issues that philanthropy hopes to solve
  • In September, this focus culminated in bringing 650 philanthropy and community leaders together in downtown Los Angeles for our 2018 Annual Conference centered around Our Common Humanity, where we looked at what gives us hope, powers our work, and binds us all together


  • Over 85% of respondents “agree or strongly agree” that the conference’s candid peer conversations and learning from leaders and experts provided them with new information and perspective

    Word cloud of how attendees described this year's conference


  • SCG is planning more and deeper programming on equity and inclusion, including multiple implicit bias trainings for our staff and members
  • SCG staff and Board will continue our internal efforts to strengthen our ability to hold this crucial and challenging work


Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation – Los Angeles

Los Angeles Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman at TRHT event celebrating the inspiring life of Biddy Mason on her 200th birthday. Biddy Mason was a former slave who became a wealthy landowner, a noted philanthropist and a key founder of the first African American Church in Los Angeles.



  • Funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation - LA initiative is a partnership of philanthropy, nonprofits, government, business and other community partners coordinated by SCG
  • TRHT-LA convened partners in an ongoing process to plan for and bring about transformational and sustainable change that addresses the historic and contemporary effects of racism in the LA area
  • With California Conference for Equality and Justice, TRHT-LA launched its first Racial Equity and Healing Justice (REHJ) Facilitator Training, a four-month program to prepare community members to facilitate challenging yet necessary conversations on race and racism in Southern California. The first cohort of REHJ Facilitators-In-Training is comprised of advocates from the Greater Los Angeles area to San Diego and includes folks of different racial, ethnic and gender identities as well as sexual orientations, ages, careers and more.
  • TRHT-LA also organized several events and trainings throughout the year


  • With our partners, TRHT-LA has begun the long-term work to use the power of truth to shine light on examples of Los Angeles’s troubled racial past and present
  • In November, REHJ Facilitators-In-Training began their journey in San Juan Capistrano for a Retreat, community building and engaging in challenging dialogues around racism and other forms of oppression.
  • This training cohort is being lifted up as a national model from which 13 other TRHT regions can learn


  • TRHT-LA and our partners are planning a full week of events commemorating National Day of Racial Healing beginning on January 22, 2019
  • Over the next few months, REHJ Facilitator-In-Training will continue to participate in additional modules to learn about restorative justice, racial dialogue, and facilitation practice. As part of their training, Facilitators-In-Training will plan and hold healing circles for various communities on the topic of racial equity, creating space for community members to dialogue about their experiences and share their stories.
  • Additional events and trainings throughout the year


Developing Professional Skills

Peer Group Learning and Collaboration

2018 Fundamentals of Effective Grantmaking program


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




  • Our members come away from our training programs better-informed, better-connected with their peers and readier to take coordinated collective action
  • Supporting professionals in infrastructure roles benefits all organizations—regardless of funding area—and the sector as a whole
  • Among other things, our peer groups help members take a holistic, intersectional approach to examining and addressing inequity in their work


  • In addition to our flagship professional development programs, we will continue to serve as a hub of leadership and innovation and provide cutting-edge programming aimed at improving the work of the individual, organization and sector


Full Cost Project



  • Together with Philanthropy California and the Nonprofit Finance Fund, we embarked on Phase 2 of the Full Cost Project, which supports a funding model that honestly assesses the full cost for organizations to deliver on their missions and to be sustainable over time
  • We brought together education, advocacy and skill-building with the goal to increase the number of funders that provide full cost funding and to build the skills and capacity of all those engaged in grantmaking


  • Through our Full Cost Project events throughout the year, we helped bring important grantmaking best practices into the mainstream for funders and the nonprofits that provide essential services to communities across the country
  • By exploring power imbalances between nonprofits and funders, the trainings helped participants recognize the challenges nonprofits face. Participants gained practical skills and knowledge to apply full cost concepts. The Full Cost Project supported positive shifts between funder and grantee interactions but power imbalances still restrict transparent conversations. Several funders are revisiting how to apply a full cost approach to their grant practices


  • The Full Cost Project will enter Phase 3, which we envision will include toolkits and deeper dives (including online opportunities) into the full cost approach and implementation. These offerings will serve funders, nonprofits and the sector as a whole well into the future



2018-19 California County Scorecard of Children’s Well-Being

Release Date: 

2018-19 California County Scorecard of Children’s Well-Being

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