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President's Blog

Four Years of Transformative Change and Learning with Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation-Los Angeles

Thursday, February 18, 2021


In April 2021, our Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation-Los Angeles partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation will come to a close. After being a part of TRHT-LA for four years, I would like to share some of the most impactful lessons I've learned in my time advocating for transformative change in our region. 


To heal, grow, and make progress, our society must have a greater awareness of our history.

For hundreds of years, our country’s history was written to enshrine white supremacy and silence the voices of Black, Indigenous, and people of color. From the history of redlining and racist housing policy, to the landscape of Downtown Los Angeles that has erased the histories of the Tongva and Gabrieleno people, to the long legacies of enslavement where Africans were forcibly embarked on slave ships to the Americas, truth-telling has been a grounding and humbling element of our work. SCG will continue to honor and confront our past to pave the ways for racial healing. 

Authentic relationship-building is grounded in trust, generosity, and reciprocity.

While organizing the Tongva History Walk of Downtown Los Angeles, we prepared a meeting agenda and plan of action. In response to our logistical questions, local Tongva leaders asked us about our family histories, roots, and values. Even with the best intentions, we still made mistakes and truly felt the meaning of progress moving at the speed of trust. There were countless moments when our errors were met with generosity and grace. We feel immense gratitude for our partners who have taught us to listen deeply and build trust.

Self-reflection and personal transformation are integral in racial justice.

We can’t create systems change without personal transformation — without living into our values and acknowledging our truths. The process of self-education and self-reflection might be different for all of us. This practice is essential even when we are fully committed to advancing racial justice. There is so much to learn and unlearn that dismantling deep-rooted racism will require a lifetime of interrogating ourselves and sustaining accountability at the personal level. 

Healing justice is essential in addressing intergenerational trauma and oppression.

By hosting numerous community gatherings to talk about our own lived experiences, our ancestral pain and joy, and the impacts of racism on all of us, we learned that open and difficult dialogues have the power to start the healing process. It can be liberatory to bring the conversations and rituals - that generally happen in our living rooms and kitchen tables -- and share in appropriate spaces with neighbors, colleagues, and community members. In addition to normalizing community dialogues, we acknowledge that people of color embody intergenerational trauma and began to explore different modalities of healing justice practices to sustain our collective wellbeing as a community.

As TRHT-LA approaches the end of its Kellogg grant, the Los Angeles team had the unique opportunity to redistribute our unspent grant dollars back into the community we've served for four years. Today, we are excited to share that TRHT-LA has awarded $223,800 in one-time grants to 15 local organizations whose mission aligns with the TRHT’s values of truth, racial justice, healing, transformation, and liberation. Our team was intentional about applying trust-based philanthropy principles and prioritized supporting organizations impacted by funding cuts and whose efforts primarily serve the needs and leadership of communities of color. You can learn more about our grants and process by reading the full announcement

I hope that TRHT-LA’s legacy serves as a model of the practices and frameworks needed to advance the philanthropic sector in more equitable directions. We hope you are inspired to join SCG in its racial justice efforts moving forward. 


In Partnership, 

Adele Lee 


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Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation-Los Angeles Awards Grants to Fifteen Organizations Dedicated to Racial Justice and Liberation

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation-Los Angeles (TRHT-LA), one of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s fourteen TRHT regions across the country, has awarded 18 grants totaling $223,800 to 15 partners in Southern California. Established by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) is a comprehensive, national and community-based process to plan for and bring about transformational and sustainable change to address the historic and contemporary effects of racism. 

Since 2016, Southern California Grantmakers (SCG) has coordinated the TRHT-LA effort by fostering collaboration with philanthropy, nonprofits, government, business, and community partners. SCG is a robust network of 325 grantmakers working to advance transformative change by mobilizes philanthropy to learn and take bold actions

As TRHT-LA approaches the end of its Kellogg grant and partnership in April 2021, the Los Angeles team had the unique opportunity to redistribute its unspent grant dollars back into the community. TRHT-LA regranted $223,800 in unused funds to organizations whose mission aligns with the TRHT’s values of truth, racial justice, healing, transformation, and liberation. Additionally, TRHT-LA prioritized organizations facing increased funding cuts due to crises and who are engaged in COVID response and racial justice efforts. For many grantees, these funds were vital for sustaining their work during turbulent times. 

TRHT-LA awarded three types of one-time grants to help advance the work of their grantees: six organizations received $20,000 General Operating Support Grants; three organizations received Partner Program Grants that include program design support from TRHT-LA and the funds needed to bolster existing programs; nine organizations received Program Support Grants of varying amounts to develop new programs and sustain reoccurring ones.  

TRHT-LA implemented a grantmaking process founded on trust-based principles. Instead of requesting applications, TRHT-LA leaned into its network and long-standing relationships to select its grantees. The team prioritized historically underfunded organizations and partners serving local communities, with most of its grants going to regions in Los Angeles county. TRHT-LA also focused on supporting organizations that work primarily with communities of color to bolster their leadership, racial justice, and healing efforts. In addition to allowing grantees to determine the size of their grant, TRHT-LA has decided not to engage in reporting or evaluation. 

“We are committed to upholding the principles of trust-based philanthropy by trusting our partners to lead the work,” said Adele Lee, Director of TRHT-LA. “We don’t believe in creating additional obstacles by having our partners “prove” their efforts. We value and believe in their mission, and that is enough.” 

Yet, TRHT-LA was honest about the limitations of awarding one-time grants in a trust-based practice. The team held candid conversations with every grantee about their plans to sustain their efforts after the funds expire. TRHT-LA will continue to have frequent communication with their partners and are open to future collaborations. 

Chris Essel, President & CEO of SCG, stated, “We are incredibly proud of everything TRHT-LA has accomplished in our region over the past four years and are excited to continue their work in a new form. We hope that TRHT-LA’s legacy serves as a model of the practices and frameworks needed to advance the philanthropic sector in more equitable directions.”




  • Armory Center for the Arts: Armory Center for the Arts is a national leader for contemporary art exhibitions and community arts education. The Armory believes that an understanding and appreciation of the arts is essential for a well-rounded human experience and a healthy community.  
  • The Biddy Mason Charitable Foundation: The Biddy Mason Charitable Foundation provides quality services and support to current and former foster youth through innovative programs and collaborative initiatives with community partners.
  • California Conference for Equality and Justice (CCEJ): The California Conference for Equality and Justice is a human relations organization dedicated to eliminating bias, bigotry, and racism through education, conflict resolution, and advocacy.
  • California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance (CIYJA): CIYJA is a statewide immigrant youth-led alliance that focuses on placing immigrant youth in advocacy and policy delegations in order to ensure pro-immigrant policies go beyond legalization, and shed light on how the criminalization of immigrants varies based on identity.
  • COLORS LGBTQ+ Youth Counseling Services: COLORS’ mission is to ensure that LGBTQ+ identified youth have the mental health support they need in order to walk into their adulthood affirmed in their sexual orientation and/or gender identity and are able to achieve their full potential while supporting strong and productive relationships with their families, partners and other community members.
  • embRACE LA: embRACE LA seeks to foster understanding, healing, and growth throughout Los Angeles by building authentic relationships, changing existing narratives, and advancing public policy solutions. Through a wide variety of programs and strategies, embRACE LA is an unprecedented partnership between government, organizations, and residents.
  • Greenstone Farm and Sanctuary: Greenstone Farm and Sanctuary's mission is to nurture people's holistic wellbeing through the healing power of gardens. They help well-being seekers find feelings of nourishment and belonging, by leveraging the power of the thousands of Healing Gardens in urban spaces across the world.
  • In My Skin: In My Skin was produced by Tatiana Zamir and showcases artists embodying their vision for the future - dancing chronicles of protest and liberation, reclamation, and hope.  
  • Initiate Justice: Initiate Justice's mission is to end mass incarceration by activating the power of the people it directly impacts. They organize members, both inside and outside of prisons, to advocate for their freedom and change criminal justice policy in California. They have more than 30,000 incarcerated members, 135 inside organizers, and hundreds more outside members and organizers throughout California.
  • Japanese American Cultural & Community Center: A hub for Japanese and Japanese American arts and culture and a community gathering place for the diverse voices it inspires—Japanese American Cultural & Community Center connects traditional and contemporary; community participants and creative professionals; Southern California and the world beyond.
  • Las Fotos Project: Las Fotos Project is a community-based nonprofit organization that inspires teenage girls through photography, mentorship, and self-expression. Offering year-round programming, they provide girls with access to professional cameras, quality instruction, and workshops that encourage them to explore their identity,  build leadership and advocacy skills, and strengthen their social and emotional well-being.
  • Sacred Place Institute: The Sacred Place Institute builds the capacity of Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples to protect sacred lands, waters, and cultures
  • Soy Africano: Soy Africano highlights the overlooked history and widespread influence of latin music in West Africa by showcasing the ways in which clave­-based Cuban music and New York Salsa were embraced by Africans, and led to thriving “latin afro” scenes in countries like Senegal, Benin, Guinea and the Congo. Dexter Story will direct and curate the Grand Performances concert on Saturday, June 18, 2021.  
  • Vigilant Love: Vigilant Love actively counters Islamophobic policies that support the Mosque-to-Prison Pipeline. Their policy advocacy is strategized in partnership with a strong coalition of Los Angeles-based organizations. The primary policy Vigilant Love advocates against in Los Angeles is Countering Violent Extremism (CVE). 
  • 580 Cafe by Wesley Foundation Serving UCLA: 580 Café is a space for students to break bread & build relationships through food, conversation, study, and arts.


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SCG Analysis: Breaking Down Governor Newsom's 2021-2022 January Budget Proposal

Monday, January 25, 2021

By: SCG Public Policy Team 



Governor Gavin Newsom’s 2021-2022 January budget mirrors the triage conditions we see across the country as it simultaneously attempts to meet the emergency needs created by the COVID pandemic, respond to the perennial needs of Californians, and manage a tenuous political landscape. Newsom’s January 2021-22 budget is a record-setting $227 billion, $5 billion more than last year’s proposed budget and $30 billion more than the $196 billion budget approved in 2020-21. The additional $5 billion in the proposal consists of COVID relief, including massive one-time funding to address emergent needs in addition to proposed investments in health care, education, small business, and social safety net programs. 

While we expected 2020-21 to be a deficit year due to the various crises, it surprisingly is positioned to yield a surplus of between $15 and $30 billion. California’s massive budget cuts did not occur as predicted. Additionally, even though California did not receive about $14 billion in expected Federal relief, other Federal programs helped mitigate the state’s additional expenses. Also, tax revenues were much higher than expected because many high-wage earners were not negatively affected by the COVID pandemic as low wage earners were. The stock market also remained robust because, as Governor Newsom put it, “Folks at the top are doing pretty damn well.” While the 2021-22 fiscal year is forecasted to have a moderate surplus under this proposal, the following three years are expected to produce deficits, primarily due to the utilization of “rainy day” funds and spending from 2020 through 2022.

Also, unique to 2021-2022 is an emergency request to approve the $5 billion portion of the budget designated for immediate COVID relief resources. The remaining part of the Governor’s proposed budget is simply a starting point for negotiations that will continue until the official budget is approved in June 2021. 


Jump to a Section: Economic Security and Equitable RecoveryHealthcare & Human ServicesEnvironment and Climate ChangeNonprofit/Small Business | Justice SystemHomelessness & Housing | Education | COVID-19 Response


Economic Security and Equitable Recovery 

As the state begins to recover from the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, it’s investments and relief must prioritize all Californians, especially low-income families, individuals, and communities of color, to rebuild equitably and anew. In this proposal, the Administration includes immediate relief for families and individuals, including: 

  • Golden State Stimulus: The state would provide $600 tax refunds to eligible families and individuals who qualify for the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) program, which could be disbursed as early as February 2021. This proposal builds off last year’s budget agreement, which expanded the CalEITC to families and individuals who file taxes with Individual Taxpayers Identification Numbers (ITIN). These tax filers are also eligible to receive the Golden State Stimulus tax refunds. The state allocates $2.4 billion for this stimulus program. 
  • Food Banks: The budget includes a one-time $30 million funding to support regional food banks, tribal organizations, and other emergency food assistance providers, to alleviate food insecurity amongst low-income communities. This amount supplements the latest federal relief package that allocated $400 million nationwide for Emergency Food Assistance Programs. 
  • California Food Assistance Program (CFAP): CFAP provides food assistance to immigrant families ineligible for CalFresh or other federal relief programs. The budget includes $11.4 million in funding to ensure eligible households can receive the maximum amount of assistance until December 2021. 
  • Expansion of California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKS): CalWORKS, the state-administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), receives a total of $9.3 billion in combined local, state, and federal funding, with $7.4 billion allocated for program expenditures and the remaining $1.9 billion designated for other programs, such as Child Welfare Services and Foster Care. The governor is calling for a grant increase of 1.5 percent in assistance payout levels effective October 2021. Due to COVID-19, the budget also suspends the accrual of months in which a household receives CalWORKs benefits from counting towards the CalWORKS 48-month time limit until May 2022. 


The older adult population is the most vulnerable demographic to the health and economic impacts of COVID-19. On January 6, 2021, the Administration released the Master Plan on Aging, a collaboration between government agencies, older adult advocates, community-based organizations, and philanthropy (including SCG members SCAN Foundation), to map out the future of healthy and dignified aging across the state. While the Master Plan identifies the need for equitable and affordable aging, this budget does not adjust the State Supplementary Payment. The State Supplementary Payment is California’s contribution to the federal Supplemental Security Income amount designed to match the rising cost of rent, food, and healthcare for low-income older adults and people with disabilities. 

The Governor has elevated several investments and initiatives to ensure an equitable economic recovery through workforce development, livable wages, and workplace protections. These initiatives include: 

  • Workforce Development Board: The budget calls for $25 million for the High Road Training Partnership (HRTP) to increase and retain workforce training collaborations between employers, non-profits, and training institutions for apprenticeship pathways. It also includes $407 million in federal funds to improve training and apprenticeship pathways.  
  • Increase CalOSHA inspectors: To ensure a vibrant and secure workforce amid the pandemic, the Governor calls for a mid-year $11.4 million increase to hire more CalOSHA inspectors and investigate workplace health violations. 
  • Enforcing SB 1159 - Workers Compensation: Under SB 1159, employees who contract COVID-19 from their workplace are eligible to access worker’s compensation benefits. The budget allocates an additional $8.6 million to the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) to implement and enforce SB 1159 statewide, 
  • Creation of the Department of Better Jobs and Higher Wages: The budget calls for creating a new state department to consolidate and streamline various workforce development programs and initiatives across different labor agencies. 


Healthcare & Human Services 

The pandemic has highlighted the extreme health disparities in our state resulting from systemic racism and historic disinvestment in low-income and rural communities and communities of color. Governor Newsom’s budget reflects increased expenditures for the state’s healthcare system due to increased caseloads caused by the pandemic. 

  • Medi-Cal Expenditures: Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program, is anticipated to cover over 15.6 to 16.1 million Californians this fiscal year. This increase in caseloads, primarily due to the economic impacts of COVID-19 and households losing employer-provided health plans, is estimated to increase the state’s Medi-Cal expenditures by $13.5 billion. The budget calls for the following under Medi-Cal: 
  • Telehealth Expansion: The proposal includes $94.8 million to make telehealth services and monitoring a permanent Medi-Cal benefit
  • Postpartum Medi-Cal Eligibility: The Administration will delay the sunsetting of the Medi-Cal Postpartum Eligibility provision from December 2021 to 2022 in this proposal. 


California Advancing and Innovating in Medi-Cal (CalAIM): Last year, the Administration delayed its plans to initiate CalAIM in the 2020-21 budget due to the economic contraction from COVID-19. This year, Governor Newsom has allocated $1.1 billion for the launch of CalAIM. Many of our funders deeply involved with the intersection of health equity, housing, and homelessness are excited for the state’s renewed framework for whole-person care that involves better coordination and service delivery of Medi-Cal programs. 

  • Office of Health Care Affordability: The budget also includes an $11.2 million initial investment to create the Office of Health Care Affordability within the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. The new office would be responsible for increasing transparency in the cost and quality of medical services, establish cost targets for providers, and enforce compliance to those targets. 
  • Dignified and Healthy Aging: In less than a decade, 1 in 5 Californians will be 65 years of age or older. This significant demographic shift requires a statewide, coordinated response to this group’s unique economic and medical needs. The combination of the economic uncertainty from COVID-19 and the high percentage of older adults, especially people of color, living in poverty in California, makes this group highly susceptible to housing and food insecurity. To this end, the Administration has included these investments: 
  • Adult Residential Facilities (ARF) and Residential Care Facilities (RCF): $250 million will be provided in one-time funding to the Department of Social Services to acquire and repurpose property for older adults. The Administration specifies the goal to keep older adults securely housed and add 5,000 beds across the state.
  • Office of Medicare Innovation and Integration: The budget includes the Administration’s intent to create an Office of Medicare Innovation and Integration to provide better analysis methods and data-driven plans better to expand access to Medicare for low to middle-class older adults. 


Older Populations: Notable, the Administration has omitted its Medi-Cal expansion to undocumented seniors age 65 and older. The Administration included this plan in the January 2020-2021 budget proposal but retracted it from the May Revised Budget due to the economic impacts of COVID-19. As we have witnessed, the risks of exposure and susceptibility to the COVID-19 virus are higher amongst older adults, especially within immigrant communities excluded from receiving federal assistance and the past COVID-19 relief packages. Expanding full-scope Medi-Cal services to undocumented older adults comes at a time when affordable and a stable source of preventative and chronic healthcare is critical to their health and well-being amidst a pandemic. 


Behavioral Health: The pandemic has made clear the need for and disparate access to behavioral health services, especially at a time where safer at home orders, distance learning, and financial stresses have defined our reality. This budget proposal includes investments into county health departments and capacity and information sharing infrastructure with schools to address the rising need for behavioral health services. Some key highlights include: 

  • $400 million to increase the number of students accessing behavioral health services through Medi-Cal managed plans, in partnership with county health services and K-12 schools.  
  • $25 million in one-time funding to provide grants to the Mental Health Student Services Partnership program, which funds partnerships between schools and county health departments.
  • The budget also includes $750 million in competitive grants for counties to strengthen the behavioral health services continuum ranging from acute, emergent services to rehabilitative programs. Grants may be used to acquire and rehabilitate real estate properties for behavioral health treatment centers to reduce the number of at-risk and unhoused individuals and increase the number of available beds. 


Environment and Climate Change 

This year, on top of the pandemic, California saw its most widespread devastation from wildfires. The reality of climate change demands bold steps and effective policies to mitigate further damage to our environment. 

  • Wildfire Resiliency: The Administration has proposed $1 billion for wildfire resilience and disaster preparedness. Investments include: 
  • Increase Fire Personnel: The budget includes $143 million to hire more firefighting personnel across the state. Last fall, the Governor signed legislation that would reduce barriers to former inmates seeking careers in fire or other emergency response. 
  • Forest Management and Prevention: $512 million will be dedicated to improving landscapes across California to strengthen wildfire resilience. Tactics include forest thinning, prescribed fire, and other management methods. 


Cap-and-Trade: The proposal also unveils a $1.37 billion Cap-and-Trade spending plan. 

  • AB 617 (Community Air Protection Program): $325 million would be used for targeted air monitoring, emission reduction programs, and incentives for cleaner vehicles for communities at disproportionate risk of air pollution. 
  • Transportation and Zero-Emission Vehicles: Last fall, Governor Newsom signed an executive order that requires all cars manufactured and sold in the state to be zero-emission vehicles. To this end, $635 million will be dedicated to reducing carbon emissions from cars, trucks, and off-road and other transportation vehicles. The budget includes funding for sales tax exclusion incentives and infrastructure for manufacturers and the Clean Cars 4 All trade-in program, which encourages low to middle-class households to trade in their older, higher-polluting vehicles. 


Nonprofit/Small Business

The Governor’s 2021/2022 proposed budget includes numerous investments designed to support small businesses and nonprofit organizations. Some of these investments are in direct response to the immeasurable challenges created by the COVID pandemic, while others are an advancement on previous resources aimed at these sectors. The budget includes more than a billion dollars to support struggling businesses and nonprofits through tax credits and cash grants. Intertwined throughout these supports for small businesses are workforce proposals that create and retain jobs for California’s workers.


Proposals included in the “Early Action Package.”

The COVID-19 Relief Grant Program includes an investment of $575 million. This program provides grants of up to $25,000 for small businesses and nonprofit organizations that have been impacted by COVID-19.  The grants will prioritize industries, communities, and geographies that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Included in this program is $25 million for small cultural institutions such as museums and art galleries.

Emergency relief of $70 million is proposed for individuals and small businesses from service industries that have been overwhelmingly affected by COVID shutdowns. Many of these businesses have been closed since March 2020 and include restaurants, bars, and salons. Organizations can obtain these funds through one-time fee waivers.
Lastly, the budget proposes $35 million to startup grants for entrepreneurs to create new small businesses. Grants will be up to $10,000 and would prioritize people of color, women, and immigrants.

The budget proposes the following supports for businesses and nonprofit organizations:

  • Main Street Small Business Tax Credit: The Administration allocates $100 million credit against state income or sales taxes for small businesses impacted by COVID-19. These resources aim to support in retaining and hiring employees. 
  • California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority (CAEATFA): The budget proposes doubling the state’s investment in this program by providing a $100 million expansion. Under CAEATFA, businesses can exclude sales taxes if they are purchasing manufacturing equipment that utilizes alternative energy. 
  • California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank (IBank): IBank would receive a $100 million investment with $50 million for small business loan guarantees and $50 million for broad support of IBank’s programs, with a focus on those that benefit underserved businesses. 
  • The California Rebuilding Fund: This California Rebuilding Fund, a partnership consisting of public, private, and philanthropic funds, would receive an additional $12.5 million to provide loans to small businesses. The fund is expected to provide $125 million in resources for small businesses.


Justice System

The Governor’s budget is proposing a program to allow individuals charged with traffic violations to avoid in-person appearances and pay fees online. This program focuses on supporting low-income individuals, providing discounts over 50% of fines and assessments, and the opportunity to participate in a fee payment plan. The amount of this budgetary proposal is $12.3 million, with the hopes of increasing the allocation and expanding the types of infractions included over the next few years. 


Homelessness & Housing

Addressing Homelessness:
With more than 25 percent of the state's population experiencing homelessness, Governor Newsome has proposed a series of one-time investments to "further develop a broader portfolio of housing needed to end homelessness." The funding includes acquiring and rehabilitating property for our most vulnerable communities. Though the budget does not propose a long-term funding strategy to address homelessness, it does focus on the need for permanent housing.

The proposed investments are as follows:

  • A $750 million one-time General Fund to continue acquiring and rehabilitating hotels/motels and other buildings through the Homekey Program. California will convert the acquired property into interim or permanent housing for individuals experiencing homelessness. $250 million will be available through early June.
  • A $750 million one-time General Fund is available over three years to acquire and rehabilitate behavioral health treatment and community-based residential facilities administered through the Department of Health Care Services via grants to counties. This funding will focus on providing individuals with behavioral health treatment. However, such grants will require a local match and the production of about 5,000 beds, units, or rooms.
  • A $250 million one-time General Fund will be available through the Department of Social Services to acquire and rehabilitate adult and senior facilities.


Focus on Housing:
Last year, Governor Newsom stepped up to protect renters impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In this year’s budget, Newsom has proposed an extension of the state eviction moratorium past its expiration date, January 31, 2021. In addition, a second federal COVID-19 relief bill enacts $2.6 billion in assistance for rent and utility expenses for low-income California renters, which aims to stabilize at-risk renters.

The 2021-22 proposed budget allocates one-time investments to support housing development. The new investment of $500 million towards the Infill Infrastructure Grant Program focuses on housing production while providing job opportunities. Afterward, a third round of $500 million will be allocated for low-income housing tax credits to help builders create affordable, low-income rental housing to ramp up affordable housing development. 



Governor Newsom recognizes the importance of funding education, especially after the tremendous impact the pandemic has had on education and districts across the state.  In his 2021-22 budget, Newsom proposes a record $98.2 billion focused on reopening schools for grades TK-6, summer school, community colleges, and a 3 percent increase in funding allocation for UC and CSU school systems.

A few highlights from the budget include a historic proposal of $4.6 billion for summer school and extra learning for students who have struggled with virtual education, special needs, and students experiencing housing insecurity. Focusing on our educators, a one-time $500 million is proposed for professional development programs focused on educator effectiveness, justice, implicit bias training, and social and emotional learning. The budget will allocate $250 million to address the teacher shortage by improving our educator pipeline through the Golden State Teacher Grant Program. As a reminder, Proposition 98 constitutionally guarantees annual funding for K-12, community colleges, and state preschool programs. Below is a breakdown of the proposed educational budget:

  • Transitional Kindergarten: A proponent of transitional kindergarten (TK), Governor Newsom proposes to invest $500 million in one-time funding to expand TK programs for younger students, rebuild existing facilities to use for TK and full-day kindergarten, and training for TK instructors.
  • K-12 & Community Colleges: Much of the Prop. 98 funding, $88.1 billion, is allocated for K-12 and community colleges, bringing the total spending to $89.2 billion. Focusing on K-12, the budget aims to repay deferred payments, expand learning time, and begin in-person instructions. The funding for community colleges also includes $250 million for emergency financial aid for students in need and experiencing housing and food insecurity.
  • CSU & UCs: The proposed $144.5 million CSU budget focuses on increasing resources for operational costs, providing basic needs for students experiencing homelessness, hunger, and financial insecurities, and addressing the digital divide as we continue with virtual learning. The UC $136 million budget similarly focuses on addressing operational costs, the digital divide, and the UC Programs in Medical Education expanding to American Indian communities.  


COVID-19 Response

Praised for its early response to the pandemic, California is now scrambling to contain the virus's transmission while also speeding up vaccine distribution. In response, the state continues to deploy federal, state, mutual aid, and private sector resources to support communities across the state.

  • Federal Relief: The fifth federal relief bill, Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, passed in December 2020 and extended unemployment insurance through March 14, 2021, provided a one-time direct relief payment to individuals and families, and allotted more business support through March 2021. States expect $100 billion to provide additional funding for testing, contact tracing, and vaccine distribution. However, it is imperative to acknowledge that support beyond this bill is critical for the recovery and rebuilding of our state.  
  • State Emergency Response: Vaccine Distribution: The budget includes over $300 million for vaccine distribution, including a public awareness campaign to increase vaccine outreach. The state will continue to partner closely with community partners and stakeholders to help plan and expedite a fair and equitable vaccine distribution. Vaccines remain limited and will be made available according to approved state guidelines. 
  • COVID-19 Pandemic Response: Throughout the budget, allocations for the pandemic indicate a focus on preparedness, response, and recovery. The budget focused on the procurement and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the establishment of Health Corps deployed to facilities across the state to address the surge, maintain hospital staff capacity, and implement programs to protect vulnerable populations. The current estimates of the COVID-19 Pandemic emergency response are about $13 billion. Federal funds are expected to offset the state's cost, which has offset the net General Fund.


Opportunities for Philanthropy

Despite the pandemic’s substantial social and economic repercussions, the past year has highlighted the strength of the partnership between philanthropy and government. From disaster resilience support to the inclusion of immigrants in COVID-19 relief to the wraparound services provided through Project Homekey, philanthropy has shown its remarkable ability to respond quickly and in thoughtful coordination with the state. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that California’s stronger than predicted revenue streams or even additional federal relief will prevent the state’s future deficits. Funders should anticipate how the impact of these deficits are likely to impact the communities they serve. Philanthropy alone cannot indefinitely fill the gap for critical social services programs affected by our state’s future cuts. This need will result in more calls for philanthropic investment in similar public-private partnerships.
For this reason, philanthropy must be active and bold in advocacy during the budget process. In this proposal stage of the budget, philanthropy and its nonprofit partners have the opportunity to engage and educate policymakers on innovative solutions and priorities until the state approves the final budget in June. Funders interested in learning more about advocacy related to the state budget and foundations’ legal limitations can find more information in this Primer on Advocacy for Funders by Bolder Advocacy. Contact our Public Policy team if you need further clarification on how funders navigate these advocacy guidelines. 

The Public Policy team at Southern California Grantmakers will closely monitor the budget process and provide updates on significant developments.


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President's Blog: Welcoming a New Administration & the Work Ahead

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Today, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were sworn in as the President and Vice President of the United States of America. We congratulate them and all of the newly elected officials who will join the 117th United States Congress, including Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, who achieved historic victories at the Georgia runoff elections. Ossoff will become the first Jewish Senator elected from the Deep South since Reconstruction, and Warnock will be the first Black U.S. Senator elected from Georgia. 

Our Collective Wounds

The incoming administration will usher in a new era of politics and fresh opportunities for the philanthropic sector. But, if we are to take a step forward meaningfully, we must acknowledge the damage that our democracy has suffered during the last administration. Over the past four years, we have all witnessed white supremacy become more emboldened, organized, and intent on harming our communities and our democracy. The last administration stoked these flames by spreading misinformation, elevating hostility, and working to undermine our democratic principles. During the State Capitol attack on January 6, 2020, these forces coalesced and have continued with every new threat of organized violence. Let’s be clear that the attack on the State Capitol was a white supremacist insurrection that was incited by leadership at the highest political levels. This attack was not a random act by a fringe group but rather the latest manifestation of centuries of systemic racism. 

Healing Requires Accountability

Even after this tumultuous election and transition period, our new administration calls for unity, healing, and collaboration to repair our polarized country. While we support these sentiments, we also recognize the incredible challenge of undergoing equitable recovery. The healing process necessitates accountability; we must identify those who participated in the insurrection and bring them to justice. History has shown us that failure to denounce and hold violence accountable guarantees that it will rise again. Unity cannot happen if we ignore these atrocities and pretend that white supremacy has been defeated by electing a new administration. This ideology is not a different perspective; it is a poisonous worldview fixated on its dominance and intent to strip others of their dignity, rights, and life. Yes, unity is necessary, but we must unite against white supremacy, injustice, and autocracy. Our unity must be defined by equity, accountability, and mutual respect. 

Healing Is Integral to Racial Justice

This week, we embraced healing at the 2021 National Day of Racial Healing. SCG hosted two programs dedicated to uplifting Black femme practices and knowledge for the long-overdue racial healing needed in this nation. The first program, Keepers of Ancestral Medicine, invited three Black and Afro-Indigenous healers to share what it means to remember, reclaim, integrate, and sustain ancestral medicine as crucial components to racial healing. The second, Emergent Strategy Ideation Workshop, provided an overview of the principles from adrienne maree brown's book needed to harness the power of change, including adaptation, interdependence, transformative justice, and resilience through decentralization. Together, we spent a day in solidarity, taking steps toward healing and repair by elevating community organizers' wisdom and lessons. We encourage you to visit the National Day of Racial Healing website to learn more from healers and changemakers. 

An Opportunity for a Bold Agenda

The incoming administration cannot be expected to solve systemic injustice independently. As a sector, it is time to push forward the bold agendas we’ve built and advocated for the last several years. As Judy Belk of the California Wellness Foundation stated in a recent op-ed, “It’s we, the people, who must do the heavy lifting of preserving democracy.” Let’s hold our new elected officials accountable to their promises of justice and reimagine the systems necessary to create an equitable society. Let’s continue to learn from the leadership and wisdom of community and movement leaders who have spent generations working tirelessly to protect our collective humanity and who have always stood bravely against white supremacists. Let’s invest in the immediate and long-term needs of our communities that continue to be devastated by the pandemic. Let’s urge our new administration to adopt a new governance model that prioritizes co-creation and shared leadership. 

SCG looks forward to working with the new administration to advance racial justice and equity. Alongside the philanthropic sector, we are ready to embrace new partnerships, transformative agendas, and a new future. As Amanda Gorman, the first-ever youth poet laureate and former SCG Keynote Speaker, beautifully captured in her poem today, "The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it."

In Partnership,

Christine Essel
President & CEO, Southern California Grantmakers


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President's Blog: Closing the Year with Clarity, Solidarity, and Imagination

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Dear SCG Community,

2020 has brought a storm of surprises that left us devastated and exhausted but also activated and inspired. Amid all the chaos and uncertainty of the past several months, I hope that the end of the year will bring you a few moments to cultivate hope and gratitude. While the near future won’t be less complicated or more comfortable to navigate, I am — at this moment of reflection— hopeful and thankful for the clarity, solidarity, and imagination that this turbulent year has brought. 



During SCG’s 2020 Annual Conference, Black Lives Matter founder Melina Abdullah made it clear the choice we have to make — are we on the side of liberators or oppressors? This choice isn’t necessarily difficult to make, but one that some of us have had the privilege to avoid for most of our lives. As our friend Kaci Patterson — the architect of the Black Equity Initiative — eloquently articulated, “the disease of white supremacy is killing this country. It’s killing our democracy; it’s killing our norms; it’s killing our climate; it’s killing justice.” And so, even while we might not all know the exact next steps, we must remain unequivocally committed to humble ourselves, fight complacency, and dismantle racism.



As I reflect on Building Movement Project’s Social Change Ecosystem Map, I am thankful to have been in community with healers, caregivers, disrupters, builders, experimenters, storytellers, visionaries, and other changemakers throughout the multitude of crises in 2020. Together, the SCG community worked to adopt a racial justice framework for a resilient democracy, center Black communities and Black leadership, and support the hardest-hit organizations during the pandemic’s rapid response phase. More importantly, we engaged in difficult conversations about being in solidarity with community-based leaders to sustain the momentum of the racial justice movement.



We can’t deny that, as a sector, philanthropy has not always been the most imaginative. This year has made me hopeful that a better future is not only possible but is already taking shape rapidly. At the beginning of the pandemic, SCG members shed the many shackles of paperwork and bureaucracy to respond urgently to grantees’ and communities’ needs. And albeit challenging, the 2020 elections showed us the promise of co-governance, the power of woman leadership, and the possibilities of investing in racial equity. Now more than ever, we can push the boundaries to reimagine philanthropy.


It’s important to acknowledge that we have felt a lot of frustration, anger, and grief in 2020. However, I believe we still show up to work and continue fighting for social change because we have also harnessed hope and gratitude. Through it all, the SCG team has learned and grown tremendously. Before the year-end, I want to celebrate that growth and extend a warm welcome to three new members of the SCG Board of Directors — Shawn Kravich, Raul Bustillos, and Jennifer Price-Letcher. Their commitment to SCG’s vision, mission, and values will solidify our clarity, reinforce our solidarity, and expand our imagination as we head into 2021.


In Partnership, 
Chris Essel

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Raúl Bustillos’ Commitment to Community Leadership and Access

Thursday, December 10, 2020
SCG is excited to announce that Raúl Bustillos (Senior Vice President of Community Relations, Bank of America), Shawn Kravich (Executive Director, Snap Foundation), and Jennifer Price-Letscher (Vice President, Grantmaking & Initiatives, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation) will join SCG's Board of Directors in January 2021. We spoke to our new Board members about their professional values, the role of equity and trust in their grantmaking, and what's giving them hope for the future. 

When he was only three years old, Raúl Bustillos’s parents came to the United States to work as immigrant farmworkers. From a young age, Raúl spent his weekends and summers working alongside his family on California’s agricultural land. While his parents did not have the privilege to pursue an education or understand what success could mean in the US, they knew they wanted better for their children. At every turn, they encouraged Raúl to apply a strong work ethic to his studies, pursue his love of reading, and explore a different career path. With his parents and his teachers’ support, Raúl became the first in his family to attend college. 

During his undergraduate education at the University of California Irvine, Raúl began working with a physical science professor to launch multiple talent pipeline programs designed to engage Latinx students and encourage them to pursue higher education. These programs recruited K-12 students and brought them onto the college campus to learn about the physical sciences and lay the foundation for their college careers. Raúl realized that he wanted to help create opportunities and access for underrepresented communities, but to do that, he would need to learn how to address complex systemic issues. Raúl decided to focus his graduate school education on tackling societal challenges on a structural level. Drawing inspiration from the foundations and corporations that had supported the physical science programs from his undergraduate experience, Raúl wrote his graduate thesis on Corporate Social Responsibility, an emerging concept at the time. Through his research, he explored the intersection of policy, communities, and grantmaking, which served as a catalyst for Raúl’s future in the corporate sector. 

Raúl began his career in the social impact sector at the Los Angeles Times, where for ten years he managed the grantmaking activities for both the Los Angeles Times Fund and Family Fund. Afterward, Raúl joined Bank of America, where he has overseen their philanthropic giving in the Los Angeles Market and the Inland Empire for over thirteen years as Senior Vice President of Community Relations. Throughout his career, Raúl has remained committed to creating opportunities for historically marginalized communities. When it comes to his philanthropic work, he understands that the best way to create leadership opportunities for communities is through partnership. Raúl believes that community leaders are best suited to assess their communities’ challenges and propose solutions to address these issues. “Funders often don’t engage communities from the onset because they fail to see their leadership and expertise,” Raul stated. “Instead, I look at our role as multi-year partnerships built on honesty, trust, and respect.” 

Given the unfathomable crises of this year, Raúl is proud of the bold steps Bank of America has taken to support racial equity and economic development. Earlier this year, Bank of America announced a four-year $1 billion initiative focused on creating opportunities for people and communities of color in the areas of health and healthcare, jobs and reskilling, support to small businesses, and affordable housing. Bank of America selected these issue areas because of their long histories of systemic inequity and because they are critical levers for progress to be enacted and sustained. This $1 billion commitment will be split between philanthropic and business opportunities, with most funds delivered locally. Moving forward, Raúl would like to see corporate philanthropy continue to increase their support of movements and racial equity efforts and permanently embrace the practices that funders have implemented in response to the pandemic. “For twenty years, I’ve seen trends come and go, but I am hopeful that the turn toward racial justice is here to stay,” Raúl reflected. “I encourage us all to continue cultivating a diverse and inclusive culture, having courageous conversations with our stakeholders, and focusing on partnerships that drive change as we collectively work to do more, quickly.” 

Today, after eight years of active involvement in the SCG network, Raúl is ready to join its Board of Directors. In his time, he has seen our organization expand the scale of its philanthropic work, embrace bold new ideas, and attract a diverse number of new members to the network. “I am proud to join SCG’s board in this pivotal moment as the organization adapts to the changing landscape in philanthropy while also helping our sector take a stronger role in advocating for our communities. I am eager to bring my experience and life-long commitment to our communities to help our sector heal and address the root causes of our societal challenges.” 


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"Leading with a Spirit of Inquiry": Jennifer Price-Letscher’s Vision for a More Creative and Empathetic Sector

Thursday, December 10, 2020
SCG is excited to announce that Jennifer Price-Letscher (Vice President, Grantmaking & Initiatives, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation), Raúl Bustillos (Senior Vice President of Community Relations, Bank of America), and Shawn Kravich (Executive Director, Snap Foundation) will join SCG's Board of Directors in January 2021. We spoke to our new Board members about their professional values, the role of equity and trust in their grantmaking, and what's giving them hope for the future. 

Jennifer Price-Letscher grew up in a household of strong, determined women. Raised by her mother, grandmother, and older sisters, Jennifer developed a sense of purpose and creativity from a young age. Her mother was a first-generation college graduate who worked tirelessly to serve others as an educator, social worker, and criminal justice legal advocate. Her grandmother was a concert pianist who gave Jennifer a keen ear and nurtured her musicianship and awareness about the power of artistic expression. Jennifer’s home life fostered a sense of creativity and justice, and she credits her mother with teaching the importance of seeing the humanity in everyone. It is no surprise that Jennifer dedicated her life to arts, education, and social change. 

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Jennifer began a career in the social impact sector following a visit to her sister’s home in Los Angeles in the early ‘90s. Her trip coincided with the city’s civil unrest, as countless Angelenos organized to demand racial justice. Seeing Los Angeles and its potential to be a place for all things possible, challenging, and just, Jennifer decided to stay. Soon after, Jennifer started working in the arts and became involved with prominent artists and art organizations, including 18th Street Arts Center and Highways Performance Space. Jennifer found herself immersed in a community of people exploring their identities and artistic voices at the height of the culture wars of the late ’80s and early ’90s. Jennifer advocated alongside these artists who demanded that marginalized voices in mainstream theater have equitable access and a seat at the table. “One of art’s greatest qualities lies in its capacity to elicit greater understanding and empathy — why wouldn’t we want to hear more voices?” Jennifer reflected. This experience building empathy and power shoulder-to-shoulder with underrepresented artists would later guide her work in the nonprofit sector. 

Jennifer started her philanthropic career at the Whitecap Foundation, where she led capacity building programs. She then joined the Sterling-Dorman Foundation and spent a decade focused on college access and success. “Education can be a profound lever for transforming lives and lifting people out of poverty,” Jennifer noted. Today, Jennifer is Vice President for Grantmaking and Initiatives at The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, where she manages its responsive grantmaking and efforts focused on collaboration, organizational effectiveness, and systems change. Her grantmaking philosophy aspires to weave together all the strands necessary to create a strong community fabric. To realize her vision, Jennifer taps into a long-standing “spirit of inquiry” that allows her to listen to her nonprofit partners deeply and with humility and curiosity. She credits SCG and early philanthropic mentors with helping her see the importance of building strong relationships founded on trust. “Our nonprofit partners and their constituents know what's best for their communities and what’s needed to accomplish transformational change.” While she recognizes that not all foundations can immediately enact a comprehensive trust-based strategy, she is hopeful that the sector will gradually embrace more of its principles. “I hope some of our funder colleagues will let go of the ‘power over’ framework reliant on directives and bureaucracy and shift toward a ‘power with’ model founded on a collaborative spirit and willingness to make change together.  Community transformation requires all hands on deck.” 

Given the devastation wrought by the crises of this year, Jennifer is proud of the bold actions The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation has taken to support their nonprofit partners. At the beginning of the pandemic, they signed onto the Council of Foundation’s pledge advocating for more flexible and equitable grantmaking, canceled all their grant reporting, and distributed nearly half a million dollars of emergency funding outside of their typical board cycle. In June, the Board of Directors decided to increase the Foundation’s payout by 10%, bringing their total payout to $20.5 million for 2020. With the additional funds, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation doubled down on its support of the Nonprofit Sustainability Initiatives (NSI), a pooled fund designed to support nonprofits’ strategic restructuring. The Foundation also made one of the largest grants in its 40-year history: $2 million toward a pooled fund supporting relief and recovery for Los Angeles arts organizations. Seeded with an initial $10 million investment from the Getty Foundation and housed at the California Community Foundation, the fund will launch publicly in early 2021. Given that one in seven jobs in Los Angeles is in the creative economy, Jennifer is confident that profound economic recovery can happen through supporting the arts and culture in this dire moment. Personally, Jennifer also knows that the arts will be necessary for our spiritual recovery. “We need to support creativity — it is one of our community’s greatest assets, and it is essential for our collective wellbeing,” she asserted. “There are opportunities for healing that only the arts can provide.” 

When asked what is giving her hope at the moment, Jennifer elevated philanthropy’s recent recommitment to equity and racial justice. However, she’s also cautious, “I don’t want racial equity to be philanthropy’s bright and shiny object of the moment. I want the sector to stay true and committed in its demand for racial justice.” Jennifer hopes that funders maintain a bias toward action, moving beyond statements and taking concrete steps to keep equity at the forefront of their efforts. She encourages foundations to codify racial equity in their policies and practices while including those who have been most impacted by structural racism in decision-making processes. Looking ahead, Jennifer is hopeful that philanthropy can keep itself accountable to the values and aspirations it set for itself this year. Given the deep polarization fracturing our country, she believes the sector can play a role in promoting civic dialogue and exchange while protecting everyone’s integrity. 

Today, Jennifer couldn’t be more excited to join SCG’s Board of Directors and further the vision, mission, and values that align deeply with her own. Jennifer looks forward to helping the SCG network continue to grow and embrace the importance of the arts, racial equity, and trust-based philanthropy. She feels fostering meaningful dialogue on critical issues while working across differences and diverse perspectives can and should be at the heart of our collective work. “I believe SCG stands for the best of what we can be as a social impact sector,” Jennifer declared. “Our network holds so many brilliant people who are deeply committed to transformational change and equity in our community. By continuing to put the community first, each member of the SCG network can stand for something larger than themselves.  We are better together.” 


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Shawn Kravich's Challenge to Power, Privilege, and Belonging in Philanthropy

Thursday, December 10, 2020
SCG is excited to announce that Shawn Kravich (Executive Director, Snap Foundation), Raúl Bustillos (Senior Vice President of Community Relations, Bank of America), and Jennifer Price-Letscher (Vice President, Grantmaking & Initiatives, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation) will join SCG's Board of Directors in January 2021. We spoke to our new Board members about their professional values, the role of equity and trust in their grantmaking, and what's giving them hope for the future. 

Shawn Kravich had an awareness of privilege even before he had a name for it. Shawn grew up in a household with little financial security and often didn’t know where his next meal was coming from. When he received a scholarship to a prestigious private school, Shawn felt like he lived a double life as he navigated an elite institution filled with people with vastly different home-lives. During this time at private school, Shawn first experienced how his white identity served as an insulator that allowed him to “pass” in the space without question — protection not afforded to his peers of color who were equally qualified to be there. Shawn was grateful for the privileged position, but he began to be critical of the systems that created a sense of belonging for a few while actively excluding others. 

It was not until Shawn attended UCLA’s Public Interest Law and Policy program that he acquired the language to speak to his childhood experiences. While he originally intended to only focus on civil rights work involving disability, gender, and sexuality, he decided to also specialize in Critical Race Studies, a decision that shaped his entire practice moving forward. The program helped him learn about racism’s intrinsic and insidious nature in every system and the intentional work required to combat white supremacy. In his decade of law practice, Shawn understood that he needed to apply an intersectional lens to his policy and litigation efforts to affect change at the systemic level. Through his legal work, Shawn had the opportunity to develop housing and health access programs for low-income communities of color, represent transgender individuals in discrimination claims, and direct a national cancer-related legal services program.  In 2013, Shawn received a Ford Foundation grant to serve as founding director of a collaborative medical-legal partnership designed to meet the legal needs of over 60,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in Los Angeles County.

In Shawn’s time in the philanthropic sector, he has taken significant steps to shift more accountability onto foundations and help grantees better support their communities. At the John N. Calley Foundation and the Snap Foundation, Shawn has been committed to breaking down funder and grantee power dynamics by eliminating administrative obstacles around compliance, reporting, and evaluation to help organizations devote more time to service provision for their communities. And yet, Shawn knows there is more philanthropy must do to meet this moment. He believes the sector needs to abandon its historic paternalism and forfeit more of its power to those with lived experience, particularly Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) individuals. Shawn is an advocate for community participation and wants to see philanthropy invite community leaders into spaces and decision-making processes that have historically excluded them.

In his grantmaking work, he prioritizes authentic relationships and approaches grantees as if they were friends or family members. The Impact Fellowship program Shawn developed at the John N. Calley Foundation reflects his approach. The Fellowship program created a new channel to hear the voices of people historically excluded from philanthropy. “Frankly, my entire childhood and my experiences at UCLA have all reinforced my views on equity and my moral obligation to move the needle to improve people’s lives,” Shawn stated. “Those experiences are all facets of my approach to philanthropy, from the systems we create internally to the grants that we, ultimately, make as an organization.”

When asked what gives him hope today, Shawn enthusiastically discussed the Snap Foundation's Youth Advisory Council (YAC), a group of eight young people of color ages 18-24 who make decisions alongside the foundation’s Board of Directors. For Shawn, the YAC is an example of intergenerational collaboration and trust and a testament to his Board’s commitment to creating space for individuals not traditionally included in the foundation's work. The YAC operates through a unanimous decision-making model, making it imperative for every member to feel safe and respected enough to make their voice heard. Shawn shared that this level of trust required months of rapport building and profound interrogation of the systemic variants like white supremacy, gender-based differences, and class disparities that actively work to exclude voices from the conversation. Through this trust-building process, Shawn found himself frequently asking how he could give up some of his power to more meaningfully include others in the conversation. “Yes, I grew up poor, and that gives me a sense of empathy with another low-income person,” Shawn reflected, “But that does not give me any ability to understand people going through a crisis right now. The only way to understand is by including people with present lived experience.” 

Looking ahead, Shawn is eager to continue his philanthropic work by joining SCG’s Board of Directors. “I feel so indebted to SCG for helping this attorney who was unexpectedly thrown into an Executive Director role learn more about the inner workings of philanthropy,” Shawn shared. “Today, SCG’s vision of philanthropy—that it should advance transformative change by collaborating with communities and across sectors to create an equitable and thriving society—feels like an extension of my personal philosophy. I look forward to continuing to extend a hand out to community leaders and inviting them to help us push our sector forward.” 


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What the 2020 California Proposition Results Mean for Philanthropy

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

This year, California’s state ballot included many propositions covering a broad range of issues, including rent control, business property taxes, cash bail, and more. The SCG Policy Team has provided a breakdown of the ballot measures results and the potential implications these results will have on California and the communities our sector serves. 

Regardless of the ballot results, there will be many opportunities for philanthropy to work with our public leaders and institutions to address the most pressing systemic issues affecting our communities. The SCG Policy Team looks forward to monitoring these ballot measures as they take into effect next year and providing the SCG network with further opportunities for civic engagement. 


Proposition 15: Commercial Property Tax – FAILED 

Proposition 15 failed to pass by a margin of over 4 percent. This proposition would have generated up to $11.5 billion in revenue for K-14 schools and local governments by amending the businesses' tax code. Proposition 15 was placed on the California ballot by a coalition of civil rights and community groups. Foundations such as the Liberty Hill Foundation and the California Community Foundation also supported Proposition 15. 

With the looming economic crises brought on by the pandemic, Proposition 15’s failure means that California will inevitably need to balance school budgets through deferrals and deep cuts to statewide school funding and additional social services. The philanthropic sector will likely be looked upon to “fill in” the gaps in public financing for critical social safety net programs and education. 


Proposition 16: Affirmative Action – FAILED 

Californians disappointed proponents of affirmative action who wanted to test the state’s readiness for racial equity and systems change by voting down Proposition 16. This measure would have restored affirmative action in hiring, spending, and admission decisions at government offices and state universities. 

Stakeholders invested in racial equity and access will need to continue advocating for equal opportunities for all Californians, especially those who have been historically excluded and underrepresented from our institutions. 


Proposition 17: Parolee Voting Rights – PASSED

California’s philanthropy sector has spent the past several years working to ensure that our state has a more complete and engaged electorate. Now, California has joined 16 other states and the District of Columbia in allowing individuals on parole the right to vote. This proposition expands voting rights to nearly 50,000 Californians and guarantees their ability to fully participate in local, state, and federal office and elections.  


Proposition 18: 17-Year-Old Voters – FAILED 

Despite the increase in youth organizing and participation in pivotal social justice movements, such as the March for Our Lives and Black Lives Matter, California’s young leaders will have to wait until they are of official legal age to vote. Proposition 17 would have allowed 17-year-old minors to vote in special and primary elections if they would be turning 18 before the general election. 

Proposition 17’s failure will require our sector to continue sustaining integrated voter engagement strategies to ensure that young voters — a voting bloc with historically low voting rates — remain informed and prepared to participate in upcoming elections. 


Proposition 20: Expanding Criminal Felonies – FAILED   

Proposition 20 would change the categorization of petty and low-level misdemeanors, like shoplifting, into felony charges in addition to requiring DNA collection for specific misdemeanors. Supporters of Proposition 20 claimed that this ballot measure would have perpetuated the criminalization of black and brown Californians. Opponents have argued that this proposition would have undone years of criminal justice reform. This was concerning to activists and community leaders given the existing policing and sentencing disparities amongst black and brown communities, for example when Latinx Californians are more likely to be charged with felonies than misdemeanors than their white counterparts.   The failure of Proposition 20 reinforces the growing “care first, jail last” approach towards criminal justice reinvestments, pioneered by the Alternatives to Incarceration framework in Los Angeles County. 


Proposition 25: End Cash Bail – FAILED 

Proposition 25, which would have replaced court-determined cash bail with a risk-algorithm, failed to pass this November, keeping our state’s current bail system intact. Without achieving structural change first, opponents of Proposition 25 argued that this motion would have had a disproportionate impact on Black and brown communities. 

Funders interested in justice reinvestment and inequitable bail amounts should continue to watch for further developments on reforming the cash bail system. 


Measure J: Reimagine LA - PASSED 

Voters in Los Angeles County made their demands for racial justice clear this election. Measure J also referred to as Reimagine LA,  passed the November ballot with 57 percent of the vote. This regional measure redirects 10 percent of the county’s unrestricted funds in the general budget to community investments and alternatives to incarceration, championing the “care first, jail last” approach. This permanent amendment to the county charter ensures reinvestments in historically and disproportionately divested communities through job training, youth development, housing, and restorative justice programs. 

Amid the backdrop of systemic racial injustices and police brutality, as well as local and national movements demanding structural change, the success of Measure J illustrates how to translate the values of equity and racial justice into systemic change. 

The Reimagine LA coalition, chaired by Eunisses Hernandez and Isaac Brown, included over 100 community organizations, including SCG members United Way of Greater Los Angeles and Liberty Hill Foundation, participating in the coalition’s steering committee. 



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Looking Ahead to SCG’S 2021 Policy Work

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

By David J. Carroll 

As determined by most American voters, the incoming administration will be led by President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, alongside a new Congress comprised of a record number of 141 women, 51 of which identity as women of color. However, our federal government is likely to remain split with a narrow Democratic majority in the House of Representatives and a Senate composition determined by Georgia's runoff election in January 2021. This election cycle has exposed our country’s deep division, and continued political tensions as millions of Americans remain skeptical of the election results. In contrast, others demand a peaceful transition of power. 

As the United Philanthropy Forum declared in their recent letter to the philanthropic sector, funders have an essential role in rebuilding our democratic systems and values’ strength and credibility. Moreover, philanthropy is responsible for ensuring that our communities always have access to the democratic process. As we look toward a new administration and Congress, our sector must intentionally set policy and advocacy agendas that center equity in 2021. We must work to close the gap between communities and politicians to ensure that our public-private partnerships and efforts work in the service of the communities most affected by systemic injustice. Below, you will find three intentions the SCG Policy team will carry into our policy efforts in 2021 to better serve our communities most impacted by systemic injustice.



In 2020, the SCG policy network took bold stances in response to federal actions, racial justice, and multiple crises. This year, we joined 506 philanthropic leaders to demand that the Census Bureau not cut the 2020 Census short, stood together with our state’s philanthropic organizations for a just and inclusive California, urged Congress to Include urgent nonprofit policy priorities in COVID-19 Legislation, and co-wrote a statement with GCIR in response to Trump Administration’s memorandum to remove undocumented immigrants from the 2020 Census. As we navigated an uncertain and tumultuous election cycle, we championed civic participation and access and ensured that funders had the election resources and information needed to engage in advocacy efforts. As the election results became clear, we signed on to letters advocating for a stronger civic community nationwide and the appointment of women of color to fill the vacant Senate seat previously held by Kamala Harris. 

As we move to reconcile the country and meet our most vulnerable communities’ needs, we have an opportunity to build upon the actions we’ve taken this year and sustain the momentum that we acquired this election season. Our collective responsibility will be to continue imagining and advocating for a better future for our communities, rather than a return to the normality that left many marginalized.



This year, Californians voted on several ballot measures that will significantly impact our communities and philanthropy’s work in the new year. For example, voters chose to restore voting rights to individuals on parole and passed Measure J to amend the county budget to reinvest resources into community-led restorative justice initiatives. The SCG Policy Team has already begun to breakdown the results of the ballot measures and their potential impact on our sector’s policy and grantmaking efforts in 2021. Our team looks forward to monitoring these ballot measures as they take into effect and providing the SCG network with further opportunities for advocacy and civic engagement. 



With the election results in mind, we are committed to helping our sector continue partnering with public leaders and institutions to address pressing systemic problems. We should strive to be a part of the legislative and budgetary processes to help influence, partner, and work alongside the government to address these disparities. To help our members build new relationships with public and civic leaders, we are excited to announce the dates for next year’s Foundations on the Hill and our 2021 SCG Public Policy Conference. At both of these multi-day events, SCG members will have an opportunity to meet with congress members, policymakers from the Executive Branch, and national stakeholders to discuss philanthropy-related policy issues and opportunities. 

This is just the beginning of the policy and advocacy opportunities available to us in 2021. We look forward to partnering with all of you to push our sector forward. As always, please feel free to reach out to me with any questions or ideas at [email protected]


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President's Blog: Toward a Co-Governance Model

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Dear SCG Community, 

In September, I talked about the need to embrace complexities, support evolving paths toward systems change, prepare for long-term engagement, and cultivate partnerships with our communities. Since then, the complexities that we face have intensified during the election season. What gives me hope today is the tremendous work of organizers striving toward a co-governance model that will hold our elected officials accountable and ensure an equitable future for our communities. 


The 2020 elections were historic in many ways. 

We saw the highest voter turnout in over a hundred years, with a projected 161 million Americans casting a ballot. Our state saw a historic surge in turnout, with 88% of eligible Californians registering to vote. It is inspiring to see so many Americans participate in the democratic process, especially in the face of the ongoing pandemic challenges. 

These record numbers are indebted primarily to the efforts of organizers who have spent the last several years ensuring that countless Americans have the right to vote. In particular, we want to acknowledge the incredible work of community and civic leaders who worked tirelessly to ensure that communities of color — especially those impacted by long legacies of voter suppression — could participate safely in this election. In Georgia, Stacy Abrams’ tireless work to fight voter suppression is a transformative leadership story of grit and dedication.

For the first time in our country's history, a woman of color has become the Vice President-elect. In 2021, there will be a record number of 141 women serving in Congress, including 51 women of color. 


Let’s take this moment to celebrate these accomplishments, but let’s also commit to ensuring that our communities always have access to the democratic process. After all, democracy means that all voices are heard.

This election cycle has also exposed an America starkly divided and wrought with internal conflict. This increasing polarization poses a challenge to the hard work ahead of us as we refocus on our collective long-term recovery from the pandemic. The truth is, we need to work together to build a better future for our communities; we cannot adequately recover if only half the country is on board. But unity is more nuanced than just positive statements and promises of finding a middle ground. We need to be honest about what’s at stake and who will be most impacted by slow, incremental change. For many communities — especially BIPOC communities who have been disproportionately affected by this year’s crises — security and survival are at stake. We cannot ask our communities to come to the table and compromise while they hurt and carry the weight of our nation’s legacies of injustice. Yes, we need to come together, but we need to do it in the name of justice. 


Co-governance will hold our elected officials accountable and create paths for bold policy change.

Right after Kamala Harris became the first woman of color on a presidential ticket, the SCG team spoke with She The People’s founder Aimee Allison on how our definition of holding leaders accountable needs to evolve. Accountability isn’t a list of demands or empty promises. Accountability in a co-governance model becomes a reality when we elect courageous and justice-driven leaders who are deeply committed to the communities they are serving. Aimee and other organizers are working to close the gap between communities and politicians, abandon our traditional expectations around accountability, and adopt new co-governance models that forward policies and politics in concert with social movements. A co-governance model allows us to move our priorities and agendas that serve the people forward without being entirely dependent on leadership.


We still have a long way to go and a lengthy battle against systemic racism.

The road ahead requires healing. Mending our divided country together will be difficult and uncomfortable. But I believe we can come together through our work’s common purpose: to create an equitable world where every person and community can thrive. As we enter a new era of our country’s history, I urge us to hold this vision close as we reflect on rebuilding and recovery. 

Let us imagine new leadership models where we don’t ask Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, and people of color communities to compromise their visions for success. Instead, let’s support them in forwarding the policies and agendas necessary to strengthen movements and catalyze real changes. Let’s take the time needed to heal, but let us not lose sight of the transformative potential of the work ahead. 


In Partnership, 

Chris Essel



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Reimagining Philanthropy: Eight Challenges for Funders to Tackle Today

Thursday, November 19, 2020
To elevate and further the conversations from our 2020 Virtual Conference, Meeting the Movement,  we are pleased to present a series of articles that capture the crucial opportunities for funders to reimagine their philanthropic work.   For SCG members who missed our virtual conference, we are happy to share a special opportunity for you to experience over six hours of our conference content on-demand. Register now to stream our curated keynote, plenary, arts, and mindfulness sessions at a discounted rate. 

The devastation wrought by the triple crises of the COVID-19, systemic racism and climate change has thrust the philanthropic sector into an existential reckoning. The pandemic has revealed that many of the long-standing practices and ideas we believed to be immutable in our sector are changeable. Not only that, but we also learned that these practices have often been limiting and detrimental to our work.

It is time for philanthropy to become bolder and burn down some of its established philosophies and practices. At SCG’s 2020 VIrtual Conference, Meeting the Movement, Vu Le, Writer at Nonprofit AF, and Sarah Walczyk, Executive Director at Satterberg Foundation, discussed the urgency and necessity of reimagining philanthropy. With our communities and democracy at stake, Vu and Sarah urged philanthropy to ask challenging and uncomfortable questions while considering several paradigm shifts to serve our communities and our sector more effectively. 



During another SCG conference panel, a speaker posed a hypothetical scenario where Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King Jr., or another famous movement leader, proposed an idea to philanthropy today. Foundations would likely have asked them for a logic model, a data set, and a theory of change before rejecting their proposal for not aligning with the funders’ priorities. “Spreadsheet culture” with its abundance of processes is exhausting, obstructive, and oppressive for people leading the work on the ground. These practices aren’t inherent but rather are a byproduct of white professionalism. The unspoken belief is that if an organization can articulate themselves well via a chart or a budget, they are more qualified to do the work and more worthy of funding than other organizations that can’t ascribe these practices.  

This manner of funding and in engaging with nonprofits is no longer serving the sector. Foundations do not need any more data on who’s not getting funding or what’s happening to Black and brown bodies. The solution isn’t to waste any more time or resources on a common grant application that asks organizations to synthesize their impact in 250 characters. These models are out of touch with the world right now and won’t lead to social change. Suppose a foundation finds an organization with aligned values and feels chemistry. In that case, they should just fund it, especially if it’s an organization led by Black, Indigenous, communities of color, and other marginalized communities. Foundations have the freedom to cut out all the processes and support the change they want to see in the world. Philanthropy needs to move away from its fixation with the minutiae and instead envision a more creative and courageous role for itself. 



According to the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity, only 8.5% of philanthropic dollars are currently going to BIPOC-led organizations. Almost always, white mainstream organizations who speak the language of philanthropy receive the foundation’s grants. Instead of aspiring to “level the playing field,” our sector can create new fields that can only be accessed by the people who are most affected by systemic injustice. If funders care about Black lives or Indigenous leadership, then they have an opportunity to create funding intentionally and exclusively for Black and Indigenous communities. We can end the vicious cycle of inequity, where large mainstream organizations receive all the grants and grassroots BIPOC-led organizations who do all the work receive crumbs. 



“Funder Fragility,” a term that closely mirrors white fragility, occurs when funders refuse to engage with difficult feedback or accountability to avoid feelings of failure and discomfort. While critical conversations are never easy, they are an opportunity to do better. It is worth the time for funders to hold up a mirror and ask themselves several intentional questions: Do people want to be in partnership with you? Do your grantees seem to be having a high level of success? Are you any closer to realizing the change you want to see in the world? 

Going back to business demonstrates an unwillingness to grow and do better. If funders want to be in genuine partnership with communities and movement leaders, they need to listen to what people are demanding. Funders should not receive feedback as personal criticism or fault but instead view it as an opportunity to change practices to serve communities better. It’s an honest conversation about being in control of processes and systems versus solving problems together and eliminating historic power imbalances that have existed with organizations. 



How are you going to keep this program running when the grant runs out? Grantees have learned to navigate this all too familiar question, but regardless of the answer, funders know that organizations will have to find another funding source when their grants run out. Sustainability is a significant concern for nonprofits because they have never been designed to be sustainable. Asking them to answer questions about long-term funding is an ineffective use of time and woefully inconsiderate and negligent of historic power imbalances in our sector. If funders want the work to be sustainable, they need to sustain it through multi-year general operating grants. A foundation’s role is to support the long-term work, not stop them in their tracks



Many philanthropic administrators still ascribe to a compliance mindset when it comes to working with grantees. Instead of focusing on how they can help organizations be successful, foundations demand detailed answers on how a grantee is spending every penny of their funds. Compliance is not a healthy or productive partnership; it is an oppressive dynamic built on power imbalances and suspicion-based philanthropy. Compliance also does not make room for building relationships with human beings doing the work. Foundations can still have deadlines and accountability, but they can be rooted in conversations and bringing people along. Start from a place of trust by co-creating what accountability will look like in your relationship. 

Building an authentic relationship with a community requires funders to listen to their wisdom and trust them to decide their priorities. Some funders struggle with bestowing a grant and letting the community decide on what it needs. Philanthropy needs to understand that it doesn’t hold the decision-making power in the communities it chooses to fund. Instead, they are there to redistribute resources to communities and work shoulder-to-shoulder with them. A foundation should build its grantmaking strategies to respond to what movement leaders and community-led organizations determine is most needed.



Many funders are still terrified of participating in advocacy work or publicly stating their support for movements like Black Lives Matter. This lack of action is often rooted in a misunderstanding of the IRS code and the roles philanthropy can play. Foundations need to clarify how they can engage in advocacy and policy work because they can participate and make a difference. Silence, complacency, and denial are the worst actions to take right now. As Vu poses, “Are we just going to keep hunkering down to deal with the symptoms of oppressive systems instead of using our influence to change these systems collectively?“ Leveraging your platforms and acknowledging what is happening in our world is the smallest step funders can take to confront systemic injustice and support movement leaders.



White settlers accumulated tremendous wealth through the theft of Indigenous land and the forced relocation and enslavement of Black people. This wealth has been passed down through generations and then often hoarded in foundations as tax-havens. This history is where a foundation’s work needs to begin. An essential conversation for foundations to have is what it means to hold on to this wealth level. How can a foundation responsibly steward and return these resources? Philanthropy has the privilege of cutting a check and removing itself from the situation, but that will not bring about an equitable world. If a foundation says they genuinely believe in racial justice, it is time to allocate these funds toward transformative change. Examining wealth through this angle can help philanthropy reimagine what it means to administer grants and funds ethically. 


Funders often discuss the challenge of allocating their limited resources across such high demand. But when foundations say they don’t have enough money to fund organizations, the follow-up question becomes, Are they only giving at the 5% minimum payout rate? If they are, that means 95% of their funds are just sitting there while communities are being devastated. It is almost unconscionable to hoard trillions of dollars while society is burning. The truth, funders are waiting for a moment that may not exist for anyone except affluent white communities who will survive these crises. Foundations have an opportunity to ask important questions about what role a foundation should play in this moment of incredible urgency. How long do you want your foundation to be around? What are you protecting? What would happen if you put more resources into the community right now? These are potent conversations that can lead to actions that ensure that BIPOC-led organizations and communities survive this moment. 


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The Black Equity Collective’s Vision for Racial Justice and Liberation

Wednesday, November 18, 2020
SCG is honored to serve as the Black Equity Collective’s fiscal sponsor. The Black Equity Collective is a community-public-private partnership with Black equity as its central, unifying force. The Collective just wrapped its planning phase supported by various SCG members, including WHH Foundation, Liberty Hill Foundation, California Community Foundation, The California Endowment, Snap Foundation, California Wellness Foundation, and Weingart Foundation.
As the Collective prepares to launch in January 2021, we sat down with its Chief Architect Kaci Patterson to discuss its history, the vision for Black liberation, and how philanthropy can get involved

What prompted the creation of the Black Equity Initiative, and how has it grown into the Black Equity Collective?

KP: The Black Equity Initiative (BEI) is an excellent example of how an issue can inspire funders, but that inspiration doesn't automatically turn into control. The JIB Fund created the BEI because it was concerned about the regularity with which black men were being killed and the lack of justice. They felt compelled to act but weren’t sure exactly which actions to take. 

The JIB Fund hired me to do a landscape analysis to get a sense of where they could have the most significant impact and where their philanthropic dollars would be most meaningful. During my research, my team and I engaged in deep listening and thoughtful community engagement. We interviewed 17 philanthropic, academic, and community thought leaders. Their feedback became the Black Equity Initiative, which supports 15 grantees in Los Angeles in San Bernardino.

The Initiative began to transform into the Collective when it became clear that a vision of Black equity doesn’t stop at funding fifteen organizations and one funder. We believe that progress on Black equity and racial justice must be part of any forward movement in the United States and that philanthropic investments, public policies, and institutional practices need to confront racial injustice boldly.


Tell us more about the Black Equity Collective’s vision of racial justice and liberation.

KP: The BEC emphasizes the need to invest in Black-led organizations, which can no longer afford to get project funding at the expense of building a sustainable infrastructure. This reality is true of all nonprofits but is especially acute in Black-led organizations, which have been deprived of resources for years. There is an urgent need to invest in Black leadership because Black liberation will not happen without Black people in positions of power. With the BEI grants, the 15 community-based organizations were able to build relationships, cultivate trust, try innovative solutions to old problems, then fund their discovery of those solutions. This kind of investment — in talent, future-focused thinking, as well as research and development capital — is vital. And so, the BEC’s vision of liberation is to strengthen the long-term sustainability of Black-led social justice institutions, which are the engines of social change.


How can philanthropy be part of this liberatory vision?

KP: Philanthropy is a sector that has the privilege of taking time to think and consider. Nonprofits do not have that luxury. During this deliberation, we — funders — often stall progress and innovations so that we can get everything right and perfect. Meanwhile, we’re starving nonprofit organizations of the resources they need to do the work. 

The conversations — about mass incarceration, climate justice, income inequality, and other issues — are often the same around both funders’ tables and in communities. However, there is rarely deliberate, intentional efforts to be in strategic relationships and alignment. The BEC seeks to be a bridge so that philanthropy can work more effectively with Black communities. 

Without having invested in Black-led-and-serving organizations before, a funder needs to cultivate its capacity to trust Black communities, disarm the power derived from wealth, and be in strategic relationships around issues of justice. We can be part of a liberatory vision together if we can challenge and inspire funders to reimagine their practices. 


How has it been to work on launching the BEC in 2020 — amid a global pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests?

KP: A seventeen-member steering committee of Los Angeles-based Black philanthropic leaders, community leaders, and public sector representatives currently governs The Collective. This group of people has been my teacher in so many ways. When I had the incredible privilege and honor of shepherding the BEC into its launch, I set out to build a committee of folks ready to tackle strategic questions and de-silo philanthropy and community from one another. The planning process kicked off in April and just wrapped a few weeks ago.

Now that we are preparing to launch the BEC in 2021, I can be honest that, in January 2020, I didn’t know if this was going to work. I knew that the need and grassroots impetus were present, but I wasn’t confident that the will was there in the philanthropic sector. When COVID-19 hit, and we started to see the disproportionate impact on Black communities and people of color, it still wasn’t evident whether philanthropy would see Black people’s humanity. It wasn’t until the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer that the world of opportunity broke open. I find this timing extremely difficult to reconcile. 

We’re repeating the same narratives and painful please that we recounted after Rodney King’s beating in 1992 today in June 2020. However, perhaps because the pandemic made it hard to escape the truth, the public decided to listen. And we have seen white people come out of slumber around racial justice in a quite profound way.

People often refer to this mass activation as a moment and ask how to turn this moment into a movement. Instead, I call this moment a window of opportunity— a window that can stay open, close slowly, or even slam shut. Will we love Black people enough to keep this window open?


How can folks get involved with the BEC and help keep this window of justice open?

KP: The BEC is intentional about building philanthropy’s capacity to work more effectively with Black communities while simultaneously sustaining ourselves for the long haul. Having a home with SCG has been extremely important and helped us achieve the effectiveness necessary to plan our operations and build confidence with funders. Our goal is to raise $6 million a year for ten years. We are a little more than halfway toward our first-year target. By supporting the BEC financially, funders agree to acknowledge systemic racism as a critical issue and build their internal muscle to create solutions. You might not know where to start, but as long as you’re willing and able to take the leap, we would love to work with you.

I also encourage funders to build relationships with and directly fund community-based organizations, such as those who received BEC’s micro-grants. There are also opportunities to sit on organizations’ boards or serve in an advisory role. 


What is giving you hope at the moment?

KP: I appreciate the 2020 election cycle for the clarity that it brought. Is it clear that 71 million people saw the blatant voter suppression, the blatant misinformation, the blatant racism, the blatant misogyny, and the blatant anti-immigrant sentiments and still voted for more of that oppression.

I am hopeful because, more than ever before, the problem statement is clear: the disease of white supremacy is killing this country. It’s killing our democracy; it’s killing our norms; it’s killing our climate; it’s killing justice. So we have to be honest about whether we are confronting this disease of white supremacy.

At the same time, the solutions could not be more transparent. Nonprofit organizations, organizers, movement leaders — those who engage community members, build trust, establish relationships, and are unapologetic about dismantling systemic racism and injustice — are the changemakers. I’m hopeful because we have a critical mass of people who are no longer shying away from the tough conversations and are ready to take bold actions.


Kaci Patterson is the Owner and Principal of Social Good Solutions. She has led the Black Equity Initiative since its inception. Stay tuned for the Collective launch in January 2021. 
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SCG Partnership: Los Angeles County Veteran Peer Access Network (VPAN)

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

With more than 280,000 veterans, Los Angeles County has the largest population of veterans of all the counties in the United States. Veteran serving organizations (VSOs) have long spoken about the need to reach veterans in need of services before they get to a place of despair. SCG’s Veteran Funders Group had long focused on how it could help support greater coordination between VSOs and other safety net providers and encourage more significant investment in LA’s veteran population. In December 2017, Southern California Grantmakers convened LA’s leading VSOs, local government agencies focused on veterans, and philanthropy to discuss how stakeholders could collectively support veterans’ support in the city. At this meeting, Dr. Jon Sherin from the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (DMH) proposed creating a veteran-to-veteran peer navigation system to help connect veterans to the services they needed.  

In February 2018, the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors passed a motion to study what it might take to establish a countywide peer network for veterans. By May, the LA County Health Agency had proposed a plan and appointed the DMH as the lead agency for this initiative and SCG as a member of the ad hoc Steering Committee. The Veteran Peer Access Network (VPAN) design process began in August and included input from the ad hoc steering committee and SCG’s Veteran Funders Group. Over the next several months, the blueprint and implementation plan for VPAN— the country’s first publicly funded support network for veterans and their families— were created. 

Given the expertise of the SCG’s Veterans Funders Group in both grantmaking and veterans issues, LA County decided that the SCG could play a pivotal role in implementing the initiative. On November 19, 2019, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors passed a motion authorizing the Director of DMH to execute an agreement with SCG to “create a public-private partnership focused on the implementation of services to veterans using a peer-to-peer model, with a three fiscal year team.” In this agreement, SCG would serve as the fiscal intermediary for VPAN and help foster veteran-focused partnerships and new funding opportunities for regional philanthropy. 

This year, SCG began searching for a VPAN project manager to represent the veteran communities it would be serving. In September, SCG hired Cristina Garcia, a US Army Veteran with 24 years of service, to the VPAN role. Cristina previously served as a Diversity and Immigration Liaison at the California National Guard, where she assisted over 60 service members and their families in obtaining citizenship, work permits, and social security cards. Cristina also worked at US Vets, a national nonprofit organization that provides comprehensive services to veterans, including those at risk and unhoused. Cristina’s extensive experience with veteran communities and commitment to equity, racial justice, and diversity made her the ideal candidate to lead SCG’s VPAN work. Cristina will partner with Nathan Graeser, MDiv, LCSW, DSW, who has been involved in the initiative since the beginning and who currently serves as a consultant to both the SCG Veterans Funders Group and VPAN to ensure that the implementation is successful.

SCG envisions a future where every Los Angeles County service member, veteran, and family members can easily find and access the wealth of support services available to them through the VPAN, enabling them to live and thrive in the community. To realize this vision, SCG hopes to establish VPAN as the coordinating authority for veteran support in Los Angeles County by creating the infrastructure needed to improve veterans’ long-term access to housing, wrap-around services — including health, mental health, substance abuse support, education, training, employment, benefits, and legal. As of November 2020, SCG selected five community-based organizations (CBO) across five Supervisorial Districts to led the efforts to provide services to veterans: 


Today, SCG and its CBO partners are finalizing the search for motivated individuals interested in making a difference in Los Angeles County’s veteran communities. New staff training will begin in December, and the VPAN network will start providing services to veteran communities in January 2021. 

if you have any questions regarding VPAN, please contact Cristina at [email protected]


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"Keep the Momentum Going": Highlights from SCG's Family Town Hall Encore Program

Monday, November 16, 2020


Last month, SCG convened its family philanthropy network for an encore program of our summer virtual town hall encore program. Led by Shawn Escoffery, Executive Director, Roy & Patricia Disney Family Foundation, and Farhad Ebrahimi, Founder & President, The Chorus Foundation, Putting Your Assets to Work: Using the Power of the Next Generation, focused on helping funders respond to the pressures of our continuing crises while navigating the changing dynamics of family philanthropy. 

With next-gen funders soon to take the reins of family foundations, our speakers encouraged family members to begin familiarizing themselves with the diversity of ideas and perspectives circulating throughout the next-gen arm of philanthropy. In particular, they urged funders to more deeply in conversations around race, capitalism, wealth distribution, social movements, and other ideas gaining traction in our sector. 

To help SCG family members navigate these emerging perspectives, we would like to elevate our speakers' key recommendations for family foundation members interested in challenging the status quo and reimagining traditional family practices. Please note: the following recommendations provide a broad overview of our speakers' conversation. We encourage you to watch the recording above for the full conversation. 



Our speakers asserted that the most significant risk the philanthropic sector can take right now is not funding equity work. Some organizations are reluctant to move resources in the direction of communities most impacted by systemic oppression. This hesitation is directly tied to notions of power and can have dire consequences on our sector’s recovery work. Funders should consider taking risks in the social change context just as they do in the business sector. The truth is that systems change will never be clear-cut and straightforward; if the crises of 2020 have demonstrated anything, it’s that nonprofits need to be ready to adapt to the evolving realities at a moment's notice. Reframing risk requires funders to move away from a deficit lens and toward a positive and generative framework. Funders should allow the work to change and evolve in ways that might go against their expectations. After all, foundations have the power and privilege to manage risks while minimizing the repercussions felt by their grantees. 



This year’s racial justice awakening pushed funders to reconsider how they could move beyond their pre-pandemic diversity and inclusion efforts and adopt intentional racial justice frameworks into their foundation’s efforts. A place funders can start is by looking inward and identifying any long-standing beliefs and practices that uphold white dominant culture. One example of this is recognizing the implicit bias present in funding only well-resourced, white-led nonprofits that can speak the language of philanthropy. Some funders have recently begun to search for Black, Indigenous, and other people of color-led organizations to fund to address this issue. However, more often than not, funders search for BIPOC organizations similar to the grantees they are used to funding — those who can speak the language of philanthropy and uphold the same norms. In other words, funders continue to look for organizations that operate in ways that they believe are effective instead of funding efforts that depart from the status quo. Our sector should continue to interrogate the power dynamics inherent in the project of philanthropy and root out all the ways they manifest in their biases. 



This year, philanthropy made many bold and decisive decisions in response to the global pandemic and the demands for racial justice. Our sector activated and responded with rapid renewals, general operating support, and reduced reporting tactics to address unprecedented crises. However, while this year’s events have been exceptional, it is crucial to recognize that the root causes have always been present because they are systemic. For this reason, philanthropy should sustain the strategies and adjustments it made this year even after this moment of crisis. Philanthropy has an opportunity to continue funding folks who are closer to the realities of what’s happening instead of going back to their usual suspects and traditional modes of operating. Philanthropy can continue to allocate resources differently, especially as we look toward the looming economic recession. Some funders are already beginning to pull back from their momentary flood of funding under the justification that markets are not doing well. In the months ahead, more funders will likely use the recession as a reason to shut down long-standing programs and end funds right when organizations will need them the most. Our sector cannot lose this year’s momentum, especially when countless funders are activated around systematic change. 



It’s time to democratize decision-making and diffuse the power dynamics in philanthropy. Funders should prioritize getting to know the communities they are working with and building open, honest, and vulnerable relationships. It is vital to sit down with community leaders and members and discuss what partnership means to them. How can the relationship be mutually beneficial? Listen deeply and often. This trust-based approach encourages philanthropy to let go of the steering wheel and allows folks who are the closest to the problems to lead the solutions. Funders can help community leaders unlock their power by supporting their vision for a new world and assisting them in setting determinations around policy and infrastructure. 



Communities should never feel like funders are experimenting on them. Any new ideas or approaches should always be co-designed with community leaders and organizations. Funders shouldn’t randomly implement the latest trends onto their grantees. Funders should engage in sustained conversations to learn about what grantees are interested in and willing to experiment with. Community leaders are already thinking about new ways to address pressing issues or reimagine the grantee/funder relationship. As mentioned earlier, philanthropy should lean into trust and democratize decision-making to design alternative structures and approaches with their grantees. 



How can funders support the kind of infrastructure that can outlive the foundation? Providing grantees with multi-year funding is a step in the right direction. Still, there will be an inevitable funding gap when the grant is gone, especially if a foundation has decided to spend down and sunset. While funders can help grantees access other funder networks, this also fosters dependency on the philanthropic community. An alternative option is for funders to help grantees initiate community-led economic development efforts and enterprises. These efforts include community loan funds, financial cooperatives, establishing grassroots intermediaries for resource allocation, small businesses worker cooperatives, and other wealth preservation strategies. By helping communities change how their economy works, funders can support grantees in building the infrastructure needed to not be dependent on outside resources and private philanthropy. 



Should foundations be designed to exist in perpetuity? It’s useful to question the fundamental nature of how philanthropic institutions operate to answer that question. Most often, foundations are focused on generating wealth by optimizing the performance of their endowments. Maintaining a healthy endowment usually entails giving at the minimum payout rate while 95% of a foundation’s wealth remains untouched. As our communities continue to be devastated by crises and systemic injustice, it is necessary to pose another question: is philanthropy one of the systems that need to be changed? At the moment, foundations are a financial institution that supports social change work as long as it benefits their investment portfolio. If funders want to genuinely address systemic issues such as housing, policing, and mass incarceration, it will require our sector to transform our resourcing system. Foundations have an opportunity to become mission-driven organizations that will support systems change work even if it risks diminishing their endowment and their life-span.


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The Four Pillars for a New Care Economy: Centering Domestic Workers in our Recovery Efforts

Monday, November 16, 2020
To elevate and further the conversations from our 2020 Virtual Conference, Meeting the Movement,  we are pleased to present a series of articles that capture the crucial opportunities for funders to reimagine their philanthropic work.  For SCG members who missed our virtual conference, we are happy to share a special opportunity for you to experience over six hours of our conference content on-demand. Register now to stream our curated keynote, plenary, arts, and mindfulness sessions at a discounted rate. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated long-standing systemic inequities and exposed significant gaps in our social safety net and care infrastructure. Essential workers— predominately Black, Latinx, and people of color—continue to be on the frontlines, taking care of our loved ones and keeping us safe while risking their well-being. In the last several months, BIPOC communities have seen alarming infection and death rates as our country falls short of providing them with the essential social and economic supports necessary for their health and safety. 

What will it take to support our country’s essential workers— primarily domestic and home-care workers— as we craft a long-term recovery plan? At SCG’s 2020 Virtual Conference, Meeting the Movement, our keynote session, A Caring Future: Supporting Essential Workers for an Equitable Economy, elevated a new vision to achieve a just care economy. Session speakers included Ai-jen Poo, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Aquilina Soriano Versoza, Executive Director at the Pilipino Workers Center, Aleja Plaza, Domestic Worker-Leader at the Pilipino Workers Center, and Andre Oliver, Initiative Director at The James Irvine Foundation. Our speakers proposed a new type of care infrastructure that reimagines work as we understand it today and centers our most vulnerable essential workers in economic recovery plans. 



According to Ai-jen Poo, our culture conceptualizes work in two main ways. The first is a romanticized past filled with images of white men in hard hats working in construction and manufacturing. The second is a fetishized future of work where artificial intelligence replaces all workers, and technology rules everything. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that neither of these fantasies is real. Today’s working-class population in America is multi-racial, full of immigrants, and at least half composed of women. There is also a much broader range of industries present for working populations, including domestic care, agriculture, day labor, construction, custodial services, and many others. 

In recent months, the increased use of the term “essential work” has given visibility to many industries that were once invisible to the public eye. This attention has exposed that many of these jobs provide low-wages that keep people in poverty. The pandemic has also shown us the fragility of our economy and the reality that we cannot rely on our social safety net to support our workforce in moments of crisis. Low-wage workers power our service-driven economy, and our collective well-being depends on their health and safety. By reframing our notions of work, we have an opportunity to unite people from different sectors toward a common goal. Additionally, this frame allows the general public to understand our essential workers better and address the low-wage work epidemic. 



Domestic work is among the fastest-growing occupations in the country and one of the industries that cannot be outsourced and automated. And yet,  domestic workers have struggled throughout the pandemic to keep themselves and their families safe and healthy, even as they care for our homes and loved ones. The grim reality is that the labor of essential workers— especially domestic workers like nannies, house cleaners, and home-care workers— is first devalued in our economy and culture and then excluded from labor protections. 

Over the past decade, the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), alongside their sister campaign, Caring Across Generations, has been developing a new vision for domestic workers to achieve the dignity, respect, and professionalism essential workers deserve in the 21st century. The goal is to strengthen the care economy and make childcare, paid leave, long-term services, and other fundamental rights universally accessible and supported by public infrastructure and policy. The National Domestic Workers Alliance believes that we currently have a once in a generation opportunity to move a bold plan around work and care in America. To realize this vision, the NDWA prioritizes four policy and programmatic pillars that center on essential workers’ economic recovery. 



Pillar 1: Expand the safety net to protect all workers, including domestic workers, gig workers, and a range of nontraditional workers who have fallen through the cracks. 

Throughout the COVID pandemic, essential workers have continued working in high-risk work environments to continue receiving their wages. However, working in these environments increases their risk of infection and the possibility that they might miss work, lose their income, and endanger their housemates and families’ health. The truth is, low-wage workers are making an impossible choice every day because they know they cannot rely on a safety net that will do little to support them. To this day, impacted workers urgently need essential support such as food, shelter, and health services. Expanding the social safety net by providing benefits like sick days, paid leave, portable benefits, access to healthcare, and more would help ensure our most at-risk workers’ safety and health. 

Pillar 2: Achieve a Workers’ Bill of Rights at the federal, state, and local levels. 

The National Workers Bill of Rights would advocate for a higher quality of work for domestic workers and address unfair conditions such as long hours, low wages, diminishing benefits, and lack of job security and rights. As Ai-jen notes, foundational labor laws have deliberately excluded domestic workers for many decades. A national bill of rights would provide them long-overdue protections. This federal bill would require employers to provide a written agreement with clear expectations about pay, duties, schedules, and time-off policies, in addition to protecting domestic workers from any forms of discrimination based on sex, race, religion, or national origin. NDWA hopes to realize this pillar at the federal level first before seeking opportunities to enact it at the state and local levels. 

Pillar 3: Push for domestic worker protections to address the specific challenges of working inside private homes. Support employers who hire domestic workers by proposing guidelines to help them navigate the pandemic context. 

The COVID pandemic and California’s wildfires have exposed the variety of hazards domestic workers face in the unregulated environments of employer’s private homes. Some domestic workers have reported that they’ve had to clean up toxic ashes from the wildfires without any protective gear. Not only are domestic workers being exposed to severe health risks, but many workers also do not have access to adequate healthcare. As domestic workers continue to navigate the hazards present in private homes, they deserve the rights to occupational health and safety. 

To support this effort, NDWA supported Bill SB-1257, which would include California’s 300,000+ domestic workers in the state’s occupational health and safety law, CAL/OSHA, and provide them with the necessary protections given to other California workers. Governor Newsom vetoed the bill in late-September, citing that “a blanket extension of all employer obligations to private homeowners and renters is unworkable and raises significant policy concerns.” The Governor also mentioned that his administration is committed to developing solutions to “protect domestic workers and the privacy of an individual's private residence.”


Pillar 4: Advocate for significant investments in our economic recovery plan to make childcare, paid leave, and long-term care more affordable and accessible for everyone. 

NDWA believes this a unique opportunity to push for investments that strengthen the country’s caregiving infrastructure and support all families and workers alike. Caring Across Generations released a report showing that “expanding access to quality childcare and community- and home-based care will create jobs quickly, spur job growth in other sectors, and ensure financial stability for professional and informal caregivers.” Learn more about Caring Across Generations Policy Agenda and what it will take to realize this pillar on its website.


California has one of the most robust state coalition of local organizations working to change policy, change the culture, educate voters, and move America closer toward a new care economy. With Los Angeles’s dynamic community of active workers centers, Southern California has the potential to be a unique hub of innovation when it comes to strengthening care infrastructure, reimagining the safety-net, and determining the future of jobs in California. Philanthropy has an opportunity to participate in the reimagining of our core infrastructure by engaging in advocacy and by supporting the initiatives of organizations working directly with essential workers. 

To support these efforts, our speakers provided a list of initiatives and resources for funders interested in supporting domestic workers in their COVID recovery efforts. 

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Honoring the Legacy of Richard Atlas (1943-2020)

Monday, November 16, 2020

It is with sadness that we share with our friends and partners that Richard Atlas passed in the early hours of November 13, 2020. He leaves behind a legacy of love beyond measure, respect, hard work, devotion to those he held close, and a commitment to the very youngest in our community.
When he retired from Goldman Sachs in 1994, Rich spoke with dozens of philanthropic and nonprofit leaders to understand how he could give back to marginalized communities in Southern California. Rich was also a long-time, very dear member of the SCG community. 
Rich reached a simple, profound conclusion: by investing in infants and toddlers, he could help change the life trajectory of thousands of vulnerable children in Los Angeles County. Over the past 25 years, Richard and his wife Lezlie created a legacy of long-term, focused investment in the most at-risk infants, toddlers, parents, and public policy with the highest commitment, partnership, and due diligence. He founded the LA Partnership for Early Childhood Investment and has collaborated closely with national Early Childhood leaders and community programs.

To honor Rich’s legacy, the family has established The Richard Atlas Early Childhood Fund. If you would like to donate to the fund, please make checks payable to The Goldman Sachs Philanthropy Fund with The Richard Atlas Early Childhood Fund in the memo and mail to:


The Richard Atlas Early Childhood Fund
c/o The Goldman Sachs Philanthropy Fund

2121 Avenue of the Starts, Suite 2700
Los Angeles, CA 90067


Thank you for helping to keep Rich’s beautiful and impactful vision alive to create a loving, healthy future for all families. In respecting the family's expressed wishes for privacy, please feel free to send emails to Janis Minton ([email protected]) or Parker Blackman ([email protected]), or letters directly to JMC Philanthropy office (2444 Wilshire Blvd, Suite #622, Santa Monica, CA 90403). Janis and Parker will be sure to pass along any cards or notes to the family.



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President's Blog: A Message on the 2020 Elections

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Hello SCG Community,


As much as we had hoped for a decisive outcome in the presidential race, it’s not a surprise for us to wake up this morning without one. Elections are high-stakes moments with long-term implications. The 2020 elections have been more uncertain and challenging than most due to a worsening pandemic and a divisive political climate. We are proud of how our sector has mobilized to advocate for issues vital to our California’s future, promote civic engagement, and protect our democratic processes. 


Democracy means every vote counts.

As state officials across the country work tirelessly to ensure that every single vote is counted, we strongly condemn false claims of a final result of the presidential race. As we continue to wait for the outcomes of ballot measures and elected positions, the SCG team urges you to be kind to yourself and engage in beneficial wellness practices. We must remain resolute and hopeful and be prepared to take action in the days ahead of us. 

Our partners and governmental officials are confident that fair and accurate results will emerge but have made it clear that we might not know the results for days or weeks after the elections. The pandemic has resulted in millions of votes cast by mail instead of in-person and different states have varying counting timelines. With hundreds of thousands of ballots left to count and key states too close to call, getting every vote counted is crucial. 

We also urge you to remain vigilant and be ready to speak out against any attempts to suppress or weaken people’s voices. If significant challenges emerge, we are prepared to advocate for voter rights and support our members and partners in protecting our democratic processes.


Last night wasn’t just about the presidential election. 

Beyond the presidential race, the 2020 elections are important and consequential for a plethora of national, state, and local candidates and issues on the ballots, which will profoundly affect all Americans. For now, we would like to elevate the leadership of women across the country, in addition to having a woman of color Vice President nominee

  • Record numbers of Native American women, Black women, Latinx women, and LGBTQ people who ran for offices in 2020.
  • Cori Bush, a Black Lives Matter organizer, became the first Black congresswoman from Missouri. 
  • In Delaware, Sarah McBride made history as the first transgender woman elected to a state senate. 
  • According to the U.S. Elections Project, more than 10.5 million Californians voted early, which is 72% of the total voter turnout in 2016. Our state is part of a historic surge in turnout across the country, with 88% of eligible Californians registered to vote. 


Whatever happens, we will keep fighting for an equitable and thriving society. 

We still have a tremendous amount of work to do in confronting the pandemic and systemic racism. Our local and state elections’ outcomes will have a more direct impact on California’s philanthropic work. We must remain agile and adaptable. We must continue advocating for our democracy and the issues important to the communities that we serve. As we face the uncertainty and possibilities of a new political term, SCG commits to continue mobilizing our sector to take bold actions in ensuring equitable opportunities for every Californian to thrive.

It is crucial that we all take care of ourselves and each other in the coming days. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you need a community to lean on. You will always have a partner in SCG. 
In solidarity and hope.


Christine Essel
President & CEO, Southern California Grantmakers


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Preparing for the November Election: Voter & Advocacy Resource Guide for Funders

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Hello SCG Community,

We know that the 2020 General Election will be different than any election we have ever experienced. Not only are significant decisions being made across all levels of government, but the COVID-19 pandemic has created new challenges that must be overcome to support a fair and safe election. With much at stake, Philanthropy has a role to play in protecting our democratic principles and ensuring that everyone’s voice is heard. 

At Southern California Grantmakers we believe that philanthropy can make a difference to:

  • Protect democracy by preserving essential public services;
  • Support efforts to guarantee a full and accurate Census count;
  • Ensure every eligible Californian votes;
  • Diversify representation among redistricting delegates; and,
  • Fund to win: plan for the long haul, and invest in partners who are breaking new ground for a stronger and more equitable California.


SCG's Public Policy Team would like to assist funders in making informed decisions around California’s ballot measures and in preparing a voting plan for the election. In California, eligible voters will decide on local elections’ outcomes and statewide ballot initiatives that can advance racial equity and social justice in our state. We encourage you to take the time necessary to review all of the items on your ballot and make an effort to cast your vote early. 

As we enter this election season, please be prepared to exercise patience at many levels of the process. Due to the new election methods and other probable voting and counting delays, we will not likely know the election results for several days or even weeks after November 3. SCG, our partners, and government officials are confident that a fair and accurate election result will emerge, albeit somewhat slower than what we are accustomed to experiencing. 

Take time for yourself, practice wellness, be patient, and trust that Democracy will prevail as it has throughout the history of our great Union. If you have any questions regarding the General Election or the 2020 Census, please feel free to reach out to us at any time

In Partnership,

The SCG Public Policy Team 



2020 Ballot Measures: What, Why, and How to Advocate

Philanthropy California hosted an informational program on Propositions 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, and 25 which are important measures for nonprofits and foundations. Our panelists also discussed how exempt organizations and funders can support or oppose measures while remaining legally compliant.  



California Election 2020 Voters Guide

This election, Californians will have their voices heard on twelve statewide ballot propositions ranging from rent stabilization, reinstating affirmative action, amending commercial property taxes, and many others. CalMatters has produced a voters guide breaking down all twelve propositions below. 



The SCG Public Policy Team has curated a comprehensive list of resources for foundations and grantees interested in engaging in advocacy activities this election season. These resources will help 501(c)(3) organizations remain nonpartisan and legally compliant under IRS guidelines. 


Register to vote

California voters will have multiple ways to engage in the general election. All voters will have the option to vote by mail. In-person voting locations will still be made available, including for early voting.

Vote by Mail

  • In order to receive a mail-in ballot, you must be registered to vote by Monday, October 19. All registered voters will receive a ballot mailed to their address.
  • Be sure that your selections are marked clearly and consistently. The envelope must be sealed and signed with the signature on your voter registration card, which is typically the signature on file with the DMV. 
  • Drop it off at your nearest polling dropbox, a secured box where vote-by-mail ballots can be dropped off. Or return your ballot by mail, postmarked before Tuesday, November 3, 2020. 
  • Track your Ballot: The Secretary of State launched “Where’s My Ballot”, a new tracking tool to help voters track and stay up to date on the status of their ballot.  

Vote in Person

  • In-person voting locations will still be made available on Election day. Find your nearest polling place.
  • You can also vote in person before Election day from Saturday, October 31, 2020, to Monday, November 2, 2020, with alternate hours of operation. Find your nearest early polling place

Support a Safe and Fair Election

Amid an unprecedented amount of misinformation, false claims, and voter suppression tactics, it is more important than ever for voters to revisit their voting rights. When We All Vote has collected crucial information and resources to help voters ensure their voices are heard in every election.



SCG's Primer on Advocacy for Funders

Foundations, both public and private, have the ability to engage in nonpartisan, election engagement while staying within the IRS guidelines. Nona Randois, California Director of Alliance for Justice’s Bolder Advocacy work, has authored a Primer on Advocacy for Funders interested in entering public policy work and who need legal guidance on remaining compliant with their 501(c)(3) status. 


Voter Engagement Toolkit for Community Foundations


Voter Engagement Toolkit for Private Foundations 


Participate in Vote Early Day 2020


Convening and Commenting on Debates: The Bolder Advocacy Podcast



Bolder Advocacy Checklist for 501(c)(3) Public Charities: Ensuring Election Year Advocacy Efforts Remain Nonpartisan


Ballot Measures and Public Charities: Yes, You Can Influence That Vote 


Supporting or Opposing Ballot Measures in California: What You Need to Disclose


Ballot Measures Activities Exempt from California Disclosure Laws


Provoc's #TOGETHERWEVOTE Campaign



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President's Blog: Becoming a Courageous Sector

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

At the start of the year, the team at SCG envisioned a very different Annual Conference, one that recalled our past full-day convenings in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles. But as the pandemic wore on and the global demands for racial justice intensified, we knew that our annual gathering of grantmakers and community leaders needed to reflect and respond to the urgency of our collective moment. We knew that SCG, like the entire philanthropic sector, needed to reevaluate our responsibility to our hurting communities. 

Our 2020 Annual Conference, Meeting the Movement, was a reflection of the leadership and dialogue we firmly believe is needed to move our sector forward. Across three mornings, leaders — from movements, government, nonprofits, and philanthropy — pushed us to address the long-standing inequities that threaten our recovery, democracy, and future. 

At the heart of each of our panels, one reality became increasingly clear: if philanthropy is genuinely committed to eradicating systemic injustice, we must become a more courageous sector. 

In the plenary conversation, Breaking Through and Building Power for Social Movements, I was deeply moved and challenged by the sincerity of our speakers Melina Abdullah, Vijay Gupta, Lateefah Simon, and Eryn Wise. These leaders highlighted the distinction between nonprofits and movements and philanthropy’s historic lack of support for leaders on the ground. Our panelists urged us to examine the ways nonprofit culture and its modes of operation often do more to uphold white supremacy than combat it. 

I know that this conversation was difficult for many of us to hear, and I appreciate your willingness to lean in and listen to our community leaders when they share their experiences and pain. In moving past our discomfort, we abandon the practices that perpetuate injustice.

The truth is that our communities can no longer wait for us to take action. By investing in movement leaders now, we can support their liberation and not be complicit in their oppression.

To inspire us to move in a courageous direction, I would like to elevate some of the movement leaders’ most urgent lessons. 

Nonprofits Play a Part, but Movements Change the World

From the abolitionist movement to the Civil Rights Movement, our panelists made it clear: movements are the forces that transform the world. Nonprofits are often tethered to the same systems that intentionally target and disenfranchise Black, brown, and Indigenous communities. The truth is nonprofits cannot reform a system built on oppression. However, movements are historically rooted in challenging colonialism, heteropatriarchy, and all of the other structures that disenfranchise people of the global majority. Building power requires our sector to decenter itself and uplift the wisdom, needs, and solutions of those most directly impacted by systemic injustice. Only then can we move beyond the constraints that prevent us from dismantling systems of oppression.


Moving Beyond Structures that Shackle Movement Leaders

It is time for philanthropy to move away from a grant culture founded on a retributive model. More often than not, our sector operates from a hierarchy of finances that reflects capitalist structures. This operating mode reinforces itself through white-dominant norms of professionalism, outcomes, and paperwork that do nothing to serve leaders or scale movements. Instead, these norms demand time and labor from individuals already operating with limited resources. As Vijay Gupta stated, “I want to stop tricking myself into believing that if I twist language that the work of my heart will be funded.”

Panelists implored philanthropy to abandon its fixation with performance and evaluation. Our sector cannot continue asking movement leaders fighting for Black Lives or Indigenous resistance to produce outcomes for their work. In the last decade, the protest chants that have emerged from these movements have become the national conversations and policies that elected officials must face. As Melina articulated, “We see the promise of democracy because of these movements.” It is time for philanthropy to disentangle itself from white-dominant practices and instead fund liberation. 


Sustaining Movement Leaders 

Funders have the resources to invest in the real and urgent needs of our leaders on the ground. Movements don’t always have grant writers, designers, or a research team; they often lack essentials like office supplies and technology. Movement work happens through the contributions of volunteers and individuals who have dedicated their time to the cause. Instead of asking them to complete more paperwork, grantmakers can provide the unrestricted funds needed for these groups to function and hire needed staff and support. Moreover, movement leaders are exhausted and carry the weight of confronting systemic violence daily. Funders can support leaders personally by funding their rest, their therapy, and their nourishment. Philanthropy has a crucial role to play in creating the conditions for community leadership to thrive. 

Having the Freedom to Dream

Our panelists challenged us to have the courage to abandon the structures that do not serve an equitable world. Philanthropy needs to shift away from models built on lack and bureaucracy and instead focus on practices grounded in love and restoration. I urge our sector to dream big and to have the courage to step away from what is and what continues to constrain all of us. As Dr. Abdullah said, “Systems will never change themselves. We need to create new realities.”


Thank you to the 600+ philanthropic and community leaders who joined our virtual convening. As a reminder, all Meeting the Movement registrants can continue to access Swapcard and watch all of the conference content on-demand. We look forward to sharing more conference lessons inspired by the rest of our sessions and panelists in the coming weeks. 

Additionally, SCG will be hosting a series of programs designed to deepen our learning and further the conversations prompted by our Virtual Conference. These events will include new workshops for our Full Cost Project, a continuation of our Trust-Based Philanthropy series, an encore event for our Family Philanthropy Town Hall, and many others. Please keep an eye out for registration information soon. 

We are incredibly grateful to each of you who supported Meeting the Movement, to all the sponsors who believe in our work, and to our team, who will always innovate to bring the SCG network together. We hope you left our annual conference invigorated to take bold actions, embrace trust-based partnerships, and center equity in every aspect of your work. 


In Solidarity,

Christine Essel
President & CEO, Southern California Grantmakers


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