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How Philanthropy Can Protect Civic Participation and Access During COVID-19

Friday, July 10, 2020

As we approach the November election, nonpartisan civic engagement will be one of the most potent tools foundations can use to advance their social missions and build a democracy that people believe in. Protecting our democratic institutions is even more urgent as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to create unprecedented challenges to civic participation with the growing concerns around voter turnout, physical distancing, and the spread of misinformation. 

To address these emerging challenges, Philanthropy California hosted Protecting Access to California’s 2020 Election and Beyond and convened Cathy Cha from Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, Connie Malloy from the Panta Rhea Foundation, James E. Woodson from the California Calls Education Fund and the Honorable Alex Padilla, Secretary of State for the State of California. Our panelists shared the latest information on California’s new, expanded vote-by-mail system, voter education and engagement efforts, and innovative ways community organizations are addressing emerging challenges to civic engagement. Below, you will find an overview of California’s new vote-by-mail system and critical actions funders can take to protect civic participation and access during the COVID-19 pandemic. 


California has issued an executive order directing counties to mail every eligible voter a ballot in advance of the November election. Voters will have the option of either returning their ballot by mail via a prepaid envelope, delivering it to a secure drop-box before the election, or dropping it off in-person on the day of the election. As much as the state is encouraging people to vote-by-mail, voters will still have the option of voting in-person. California is working to ensure that people have as many safe, in-person voting opportunities as possible, on and before the election date, and that people still have the other needed supports around accessibility issues, language assistance, same-day registration, ballot replacements, and more. For those who aren’t mailing in their ballots, the exact days and locations for in-person options will vary depending on their county. Still, for most people, it will happen throughout Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and election day itself. 



As California has expanded its vote-by-mail efforts, there has been an increase in national rhetoric meant to create skepticism, fear, and illegitimacy around the vote-by-mail system. This misinformation will only intensify as the general election approaches. Philanthropy can help people navigate the noise and confusion by partnering with organizations working to educate people on the latest voting systems and solve urgent challenges. This support can range from ensuring that people understand that their mail ballot needs to be signed to be valid to also providing language-appropriate training and materials for a variety of non-English speaking communities. California Calls has identified that it takes multiple touches to shift people’s behaviors around voting-by-mail, and they are now brainstorming the most effective ways to utilize PSA’s, digital events, and voter training to ensure that people understand and trust the vote-by-mail process. Also, since inactive voters will not receive vote-by-mail ballots, voter education campaigns will need to remind people to verify their registration status to receive their ballot. 



All of California’s voter education efforts must be translated into multiple languages to be more representative of our state’s communities of color. Without access to multilingual information, it will be challenging for people to adopt the new voting structures and navigate the clouds of misinformation, which in turn will lead to lower voter participation and reduced confidence in the upcoming election. To address the need for culturally appropriate messaging and materials in languages other than English, the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr Foundation, the California Community Foundation, and the University of California Riverside’s Center for Social Innovation are developing and testing vote-by-mail messages in various languages. These organizations will hold multiple community feedback sessions across the state, before sending the approved messages to the 58 county registrars by the Secretary of State. This partnership highlights the role philanthropy can play in ensuring that all voters, regardless of their language proficiency, will be well equipped and informed for not only the upcoming election. Also, if successful, similar public-private partnerships may enable more profound civic education and outreach in topics such as the Census, redistricting, COVID-19 resources, and more. 



Philanthropy can dramatically increase the government’s reach. For example, with the Census, the philanthropic sector helped extend the Census Bureau’s outreach by leaning into its network of trusted community partners, including organizers, health clinic staff, faith leaders, neighbors, and others to help spread its importance to community members. Nonprofit partners are trusted advisors in communities across the state that can help drive civic engagement in the communities they serve. Additionally, many people are intimidated by hefty voting guides, long lists of judges, and confusing propositions and are afraid of making a mistake. Nonprofits can help educate communities on what’s on their ballot as long as they remain compliant with their 501(c)(3) status



Since 2016, over 400,000 young people ages 16 and 17 have pre-registered to vote in the state of California. Those young people that are now of voting age will experience their first general election amid a pandemic. Philanthropy can play a role in ensuring that these first-time voters turn out in November and that their first-voting experience is a positive one that will convert them into regular voters. One way to do this is to help shift away from heavy messaging rooted in responsibility and democracy and to instead be creative in adopting new technologies like text messaging and partnering with influencers and celebrities to motivate young people to vote. For example, the Creative Artists Agency Foundation, an SCG member, has been committed to youth voter engagement through their “I am a voter” campaign, which seeks to create a cultural shift around voting and civic engagement. 



The new self-response deadline for the 2020 Census is October 31, 2020, which is a few days before the election. There is an opportunity to run parallel campaigns that highlight how interconnected the Census, redistricting, and voting are as vital components of civic engagement. For example, California Calls is evaluating how to use their current census infrastructure to do more voter outreach to engage, educate, and motivate new and infrequent voters among young people, from communities of color, and poor and working-class neighborhoods. To do this, they are tapping into their African-American civic engagement initiative, the Black Census and Redistricting Hub, which is a group of 35 Black-led organizations across the state currently focused on census outreach in Black communities. 



Counties need help preserving in-person polling opportunities from a volunteer and facility standpoint. Many seniors and retirees who have volunteered on election day in the past will not be available this year. Philanthropy can tap into its network and help recruit a new generation of poll workers to keep these locations running. Also, with the need for physical distancing, polling locations can no longer contain 30 side-by-side voting booths. There is a need for polling locations with enough square footage to allow people to vote safely in November. Funders can recommend or help acquire facilities where safe in-person polling can take place. 



If you come across wrong or misleading voter information, you can visit and share it with the Office of Election Cybersecurity. This office has established successful protocols with social media platforms to halt the spread of misinformation. Funders can always help to direct people to California’s voter hotline at 1-800-345-VOTE or to check their voter status, debunk myths, and access resources and tools to answer their questions.


Philanthropy California has also produced an informational elections funding guide for funders who are interested in investing in and supporting civic participation across California.

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The Eight Principles of An Effective Advocacy Campaign with Hillary Moglen

Tuesday, June 23, 2020
In April, Philanthropy California virtually convened over 600 funders from across the state for a day dedicated to philanthropy’s role in strengthening our democracy and civic engagement during this unprecedented moment. Now, SCG is excited to launch our Policy Blog Series to elevate critical learnings from the Summit and to further the conversations we began to explore. 


I work at a firm in the business of issue advocacy—changing the way people act and think about social and political issues. We are always eager to improve our craft and learn from the field to create the most impactful advocacy campaigns. We appreciate that issue advocacy is part art and part science, and there is so much to learn from the campaigns we’ve won, lost, and admired from afar. 

Below, you’ll find a distillation of our learnings on running an effective advocacy campaign. These eight principles were derived from our own experience running advocacy campaigns on behalf of our clients and also based on extensive research we conducted with support from the Omidyar Network. This research involved interviewing the leaders who have led some of the decade’s most impactful campaigns to see what we could learn about their strategies, identify key patterns, and develop a blueprint for what makes a successful campaign. Our research is captured in the Fighting for Change Report and a set of interviews available on our website


The saying “fortune favors the bold” captures the essence of this principle. Successful campaigns always start with a vision. A bold, transformational goal that challenges the status quo in a way that was once unimaginable. A bold vision can excite a political base and encourage supportive bystanders to take action. This is particularly true when it comes to motivating young people and first-time activists. History also has shown that a big, bold idea can create a big enough tent to include organizations that aren’t always aligned to work together towards a common goal. Two campaigns we studied that successfully created a bold vision were the campaign to halt the Keystone Pipeline (not merely making it safer) and push for universal public health care (Obamacare).


Framing, simply put, is how we understand the world and our place in it. Good framing identifies a problem, suggests a solution, and motivates people to demand change. Effective framing also will identify the “good guys” and the “villains” and will appeal to emotion, logic, or both. To frame successfully, campaigns need to connect an issue to people’s values and worldviews and be relevant to what they already know and believe. Most advocacy campaigns are rooted in complicated and nuanced policy discussions, but effective framing distills the effort into a relatable and accessible idea.


Access to resources, both human and material can decide the fate of a campaign. Regardless of the campaign’s size and shape, it must leverage their unique resources to develop their power. All successful campaigns identify their superpower and leverage it consistently and intentionally. It is a common mistake for campaigns to assume that having more money equals having more power. While money can provide more material resources, it can never replace tenacity, passion, and zeal. Examples of campaigns that effectively leveraged their power included Net Neutrality and the Fight for $15. Black Lives Matter and the youth climate activists are also two current examples to learn from. 


Influential leaders have always been able to make or break campaigns. Charismatic leaders who are exceptional strategic thinkers, have a clear vision, and who possess high emotional intelligence can rally and empower supporters and keep campaigns on track despite setbacks. Today, successful campaign leaders look very different from those of the past. Instead of having the traditional model of a top-down CEO role, we see more campaigns with less hierarchical structures (see the Structure Principle below). Campaigns with exceptional leaders include Health Care for America Now and the “Vote Leave” Brexit effort


The ancient philosopher Seneca once mused that “luck is where preparation meets opportunity.” Campaigns can be won or lost because of that “opportunity”, which is also known as timing. Timing is an art and a science; campaigns need to be able to identify the window of opportunity and then leverage it. While campaigns don’t necessarily create these windows, successful campaigns are prepared and ready to capitalize on it. Two great examples we’ve studied include the Tea Party and soda tax campaigns


Campaigns have never existed in a vacuum, and the best-planned campaigns have to respond to unexpected challenges and changing environments. How campaigns adapt to the unexpected—pivoting strategy and taking advantage of new opportunities—can mean the difference between success and failure. Campaigns need to get information in real-time and be humble enough to know how to adapt. 


Organizational structure isn’t the flashiest component of a campaign, but when done right, it can be the key to success. Campaigns that have combined strong leadership, created clear information channels, sustained a large grassroots network, and built strong mutual trust have been particularly successful. We’ve also noticed that current campaigns tend to be nonlinear, less hierarchical, adaptable, and more strategic in leveraging all of their assets. Two great examples are Health Care for America Now and Net Neutrality


Savvy campaigns generate pressure and sustain momentum through smart tactics that remind key audiences of what is at stake. Whether it’s targeting corporate CEOs through protests or flooding lawmakers offices with letters—successful campaigns are unrelenting when it comes to applying constant online and offline pressure to decision-makers who need to be pushed. There are many current examples of campaigns that are constantly reinventing how to build pressure—from Black Lives Matter to March for Our Lives to the global youth-led climate strikes. 




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Evaluating Your Internal Practices to Become an Anti-Racist Organization

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Injustice does not just live outside in the community — injustice lives within each of us as individuals and as organizations. White supremacy is a disease that mutates and spreads through systems, ideologies, and language. The racism and anti-Blackness it creates must be actively confronted and eradicated from the organization’s daily practices, culture, and policies. Leaders have a responsibility to align their organizations with anti-racist and social justice principles to avoid perpetuating systemic injustices internally and in the communities they are serving. 

To shed light on what it means to be an anti-racist, multicultural organization, SCG turned to Nike Irvin, Trustee of Riordan Foundation and SCG Board Vice-Chair, Rev. Sam Casey, Executive Director, Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement (COPE), San Bernardino, Christine Margiotta, Executive Director, Social Venture Partners LA, Kaci Patterson, Owner, Social Good Solutions and Chief Strategist, Black Equity Initiative, and Gloria Walton, President & CEO, Strategic Concepts in Organizing Policy & Education (SCOPE). These visionary leaders discussed how philanthropy has fallen short in confronting its anti-Blackness and how we can re-examine our role in ending institutional and systemic racism. Their generative conversation provided us with the following concrete actions organizations can take to evaluate their internal practices and adopt anti-racist principles. 



Put a stake in the ground and explicitly commit to the long and hard work of becoming an anti-racist organization. Organizations should conduct a full scope and scale assessment of their internal policies and practices to identify patterns of institutional racism. It’s also important to identify where elements of White dominant culture might be showing up organizationally. White dominany behaviors often manifest in overvaluing productivity, avoiding open conflict, worshipping the written word, and upholding notions of professionalism. Racism is embedded in every organization and system, including philanthropy. Becoming an anti-racist organization is a long-term effort that requires intention and commitment. 



Who’s in your spaces? What’s the representation of your staff, board, and the organizations that you fund? Specifically, look at the percentage of your budget that is investing in Black staff, Black-led organizations in the community, as well as Black-owned companies, consultants, and vendors. Pay attention to any disproportionalities in your internal representation and your budget. It is essential for organizations serving Los Angeles County to reflect the diversity of the issues you’re working on and the communities that you’re serving. Make a commitment to pay a living wage to all your staff, pay equitably across all teams, and explicitly commit to increasing your investments in Black-led organizations from year to year. Remember that your budget is a moral document. 



Additionally, all new team agreements and policies should be created collaboratively. Don’t expect Black staff members to lead the work on internal equity themselves as this puts an unfair burden on them. However, an organization should not make a strategic decision that is intended to impact Black people or communities without consulting with Black colleagues first. If organizations do not have Black staff, they need to turn to their peers, community members, hire Black consultants, or work with CBOs with DEI expertise, such as LeadersUpto ensure that they are moving in the right direction. Creating equitable systems and policies requires organizations to follow Black leadership while avoiding placing the onus of explaining the impact of racism on people of color. 



It is critical to craft anti-retaliation policies so that employees feel comfortable and empowered to address the patterns of structural racism within an organization. It’s crucial to be clear with staff members— especially Black women and women of color— that there are no repercussions for speaking up or removing themselves from a conversation. However, this practice does not mean that it is the sole responsibility of people of color to address the racism in their organization. Instead, it provides institutional protection to ensure staff members can address internal inequities. 



The collective turn toward race-neutral and colorblind language has shifted from a desire to not offend to a refusal to see disproportionality and inequity. Allowing words and ideas to become coded and neutral, reinforces white supremacist thinking. To challenge these barriers, people can train their ears to hear coded words differently, to hear them as Black people hear them. For example, when someone says “law-abiding citizen,” it implies “real Americans.” Who are the “real Americans?” Who is being intentionally excluded? Learning to unhear white supremacist language takes practice. White people committed to this work can enroll in SVP’s online course Anti-Racism for White People



Everyone’s liberation is bound up together. No one is free until everyone is free. Even multiracial organizations need to evaluate their internal practices for patterns of institutionalized racism. Black experiences are often collapsed or lost when terms like multiracial or communities of color are used, and Black people are left with the responsibility of elevating their own voices. Multiracial organizations need to create strategies that focus on collective experiences and that build power with all people of color. To provide guidance, Crossroads Ministry has created a Continuum on Becoming an Anti-Racist Multicultural Organization



It’s tempting to reach out to Black team members to ask how they’re doing or how they’re processing this moment. However, this is often an excruciating request for colleagues already experiencing heightened emotional distress. Colleagues can support their Black staff by clarifying that they have no responsibility to explain or process their feelings, especially in work environments. Organizations can also provide mental health services to their Black staff members and allocate funds to their grantees to provide wellness services to their staff. 

Organizations should offer time off to their Black staff members outside of their vacation or sick time. Managers should encourage employees to actually take this time off and help remove items from their workloads. Employers can also allow their team members, especially their Black staff, to use their work time to participate in movement work, processing or healing, and self-care. Given the compounding emotional stress of COVID-19 and routine police brutality, companies should suspend expectations around “high productivity and output.” Employers can also be more sensitive to the subtleties of cultural norms around people's hair.  Even in progressive organizations, there can be implicit and explicit bias regarding Black hair and appearance, with pressure to conform to hair-straightening. Organizations should focus on collective reflection, supporting their team, and thinking of how teams can be of service to one another and to their communities. 




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A Primer on Advocacy for Funders with Nona Randois

Tuesday, June 23, 2020
In April, Philanthropy California virtually convened over 600 funders from across the state for a day dedicated to philanthropy's role in strengthening our democracy and civic engagement during this unprecedented moment. Now, SCG is excited to launch our Policy Blog Series in order to elevate key learnings from the Summit and to further the conversations we began to explore. 

Philanthropy and advocacy have long been perceived as incompatible – a match not made in heaven. However, philanthropic organizations are increasingly playing a more active civic leadership role through public policy in order to advance their missions. Philanthropic advocacy is becoming more critical as the nonprofit sector continues to work to impact local, state, and federal policies to respond to COVID-19 and dismantle systemic racism and support anti-racist movements. 

At the 2020 Philanthropy California Virtual Policy Summit, we invited a panel of experts to help funders of all stripes take the leap from funding to advocacy. Among them was Nona Randois, California Director of Alliance for Justice’s Bolder Advocacy program, who provided our funders with an introduction to advocacy and the generous legal rules that allow for effective systems change work while remaining compliant with their 501(c)(3) status. Bolder Advocacy is a program of the Alliance for Justice led by national experts on the legal framework for nonprofit advocacy that empowers foundations and their grantees to engage in and maximize their advocacy work. In collaboration with Nona, SCG has created this Primer on Advocacy for Funders who are interested in entering public policy work. 




Advocacy refers to the championing of a cause or a goal in order to change policies or systems. It is frequently believed that advocacy always has a lobbying or political dimension and therefore funders are prohibited from engaging in it. This is not the case. There is no specific legal definition of advocacy, it is a broad concept focused on making an impactful change that everyone can participate in. 



Funders are drawn to advocacy’s power to leverage resources. The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy conducted a study and found that the average return on investment for advocacy grantmaking was $115 in community benefits for every $1 spent by a foundation. The returns and benefits of this study consisted of new government programs and services, increased government spending, budgetary savings, and new public revenue. These benefits often accrue to the most marginalized people in our society. Given the ways in which the current pandemic has exacerbated existing inequities, the results of advocacy are even more critical today. 

Another example of the leverage and scale that can be achieved through advocacy is the Schools and Communities First ballot measure, which will be on the California ballot in November. If the measure passes, it will generate $12 billion in annual revenue for K-12 schools, community colleges, and local communities by closing existing commercial property tax loopholes that will require corporations to pay their fair share of property taxes. Even if hundreds of funders banded together to directly fund schools, community colleges, and the other programs in the Schools and Communities First ballot measure, they wouldn’t come close to providing $12 billion in funding per year for those programs. However, if those funders came together to support advocacy efforts around this ballot measure, they could increase the probability that it will pass and that communities will receive these funds. 



All funders can engage in some type of advocacy work and all funders can fund nonprofits that lobby. However, funders have certain rules related to the kinds of advocacy work they can do depending on their tax status as a private foundation, public foundation, limited liability company (LLC), government agency, individual donor, etc. Funders can use the visual below to familiarize themselves with the different forms of advocacy they can and cannot engage in. 

This resource is reprinted with the express permission of Bolder Advocacy under the Creative Commons International 4.0 License BY-NC-ND.

The advocacy activities listed in green are unrestricted for funders of any tax status and can be engaged in at any time. This includes building relationships with government officials, research, litigation, and working to influence executive action or administrative agency rules. Lobbying and voter registration are listed in yellow because some restrictions apply to these activities and funders should be aware of the rules before funding or engaging in these activities. Finally, any form of partisan political activity -- meaning to support or oppose a candidate for elected office -- is restricted for all 501(c)(3) organizations including private foundations, community foundations, and nonprofit grantees. 



This resource is reprinted with the express permission of Bolder Advocacy under the Creative Commons International 4.0 License BY-NC-ND.

There are different restrictions and limitations for different types of 501(c)(3) organizations. On the left of the stoplight graphic are the rules that apply to public foundations, community foundations, and most nonprofit grantees. On the right, you’ll see the rules that apply to private foundations. None of the restrictions on this image would apply to individuals or LLCs because they're not tax-exempt organizations. Government funders have their own rules which vary depending on the jurisdiction. The following breakdown will provide further clarity for funders looking to understand the nuances of these activities. 



Partisan political activity is defined as supporting or opposing candidates for office. Whether it's the president, a local sheriff, a judge, or a school board member, no 501(c)(3) organization is allowed to support or oppose the election of individuals whose names are on a ballot. SCG has long supported the Johnson Amendment, the basis of this prohibition, as it preserves nonprofits’ ability to remain a trusted voice in civil society.



Lobbying is just one type of advocacy, although it may be the first one that comes to mind for many people. Lobbying is an attempt to influence specific legislation by communicating views to legislators or asking people to contact their legislators. Communicating a view on a ballot measure to the general public is also considered lobbying by the IRS. Community foundations and other public charities can lobby up to a limit and most public charities have a choice about how to measure their lobbying limit. Affirmatively choosing to use the “501(h) expenditure test” will provide public charities a generous lobbying limit that is determined primarily based on their annual expenditures and tends to be advantageous to groups with budgets under $17M. Public charities must report all their lobbying on their annual 990s.

However, the IRS specifically prohibits private foundations from lobbying with a few exceptions, such as in issues of “self-defense” -- legislation affecting the existence, powers, duties, deductibility of contributions, or tax-exempt status of an organization such as the private foundation excise tax. As grantmakers, private foundations cannot earmark funds for lobbying. Earmarking is any oral or written agreement that a grant will be used for specific purposes. However, private foundations can fund organizations that lobby either through general support grants or specific project grants.

There are also many activities that are often confused as lobbying but that actually fall outside of the IRS definition such as influencing executive orders or agency regulations and publicly expressing support or opposition to legislative proposals without a specific call to action. For instance, a private foundation can tell the general public that they support a state bill as long as they don’t ask people to contact their legislators, provide contact information or a mechanism to contact legislators, or mention legislators in specific ways. Foundations are also allowed to communicate with Governor Newsom in order to weigh in on the executive actions he’s considering in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These activities are not considered lobbying and are safe for all funders to engage in. 



Voter registration drives are permitted for public charities and community foundations. Private foundations have to navigate special rules if they’d like to earmark funds a voter registration drive. In addition to voter registration, there are many other ways funders can get involved in elections that don’t involve supporting or opposing candidates such as educating voters around the voting process and ballot measures. Governor Newsom has recently taken emergency executive action to ensure that California’s November 2020 election will be as safe and inclusive as possible for voters and many public and private foundations weighed in with the Governor on what needed to be done to safeguard our democracy during this pandemic.



Policy and systems change occurs through collaboration and coalition building. There are a variety of roles that need to be filled for groups and efforts to be successful. Funders have many opportunities to engage in advocacy. The image below outlines some advocacy options for funders. 

This resource is reprinted with the express permission of Bolder Advocacy under the Creative Commons International 4.0 License BY-NC-ND.

Funders can also support advocacy by rethinking their grant agreements. It is not necessary for funders to restrict public charity grantees from lobbying. Restrictive grant clauses limit grantees’ flexibility to accomplish their missions and their ability to lobby within their own limits. This flexibility is especially critical right now as grantees are rapidly responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, grants can state that they are “not earmarked for lobbying” as opposed to “not allowed to be used for lobbying.” The only time a funder would need to prohibit a group from lobbying with its funds would be a private foundation making an expenditure responsibility grant to a non-501(c)(3) organization.



Funders frequently ask themselves How do I know what kind of advocacy will be effective? How do I know whether the grantee I'm thinking of funding has the ability to make a difference? To help funders answer these questions, the Alliance for Justice has created various capacity assessment tools. These tools break down advocacy and community organizing into component parts to help groups assess their strengths, identify where they want to grow stronger, partner more effectively, and increase their readiness to act. Funders may find these tools helpful when deciding what kind of advocacy investments they would like to make. 

Bolder Advocacy has also created a library of publications and resources – such as the Philanthropy Advocacy Playbook – in addition to operating a technical assistance hotline to help answer any specific questions funders might have about safely and appropriately engaging in advocacy work. 




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"Fund Us Like You Want Us to Win": Actions Philanthropy Can Take to Support Black Communities and Black Leadership

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

While systemic racism has suddenly risen to the national spotlight, it has long been embedded within our economic, political, and social institutions and been felt profoundly by Black and brown people. The uprisings we see today are the inevitable consequence of the three historic crises that have acutely impacted communities of color in 2020: the COVID-19 pandemic which is disproportionately affecting Black people who are dying at twice the rate of White people, the economic consequences of COVID-19 which have exacerbated existing inequities, and the continued movement to end police brutality. 

In this critical moment, philanthropy is being called to define what role it will play in ending institutional and systemic injustice. SCG convened Nike Irvin, Trustee of Riordan Foundation and SCG Board Vice-Chair, Rev. Sam Casey, Executive Director, Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement (COPE), San Bernardino, Christine Margiotta, Executive Director, Social Venture Partners LA, Kaci Patterson, Owner, Social Good Solutions and Chief Strategist, Black Equity Initiative, and Gloria Walton, President & CEO, Strategic Concepts in Organizing Policy & Education (SCOPE). These visionary leaders discussed how philanthropy has fallen short in confronting its anti-Blackness and has disinvested in Black communities. To move forward, our panelists outlined the following concrete actions and investments the philanthropic sector can take to support Black organization and leadership as they mobilize to address this racial justice movement.  



There are many immediate actions funders can take to support the movement against police brutality and anti-blackness. Funders can financially support the class action lawsuits Black Lives Matter Los Angeles and Los Angeles Community Action network filed against the LAPD, contribute to the Los Angeles Action Bailout Fund, and help offset any of the other costs people have incurred due to the protests. Funders can also take steps to support their grantees who run Black-led organizations by rescheduling any non-urgent check-in calls and accelerating renewal funding with little to no paperwork. In the upcoming weeks, funders should work to bolster their grantee’s infrastructure and staffing capacity by investing in areas such as media capacity and training, supplementary administrative costs, hazard pay, long-term wellness and mental health resources, and any other urgent needs that arise as their grantees respond to the current moment. Funders can also support local efforts such as the Rethink Public Safety Coalition in San Bernardino, which is working to declare racism a public health crisis and divest from law enforcement, 



This is an opportunity for philanthropy to hold a mirror up to itself and ask: Do we want white supremacy to win? If not, philanthropy needs to reckon with its historic lack of investment in Black communities. In 2017, the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity published a report and found that the proportion of annual grant money for African-American organizations decreased by 4.3% between the periods of 2005 to 2014, the highest decrease among any people of color-led group. The Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE) also published a report in 2017 that discovered that less than 2% of funding by the nation’s largest foundations was explicitly directed to the African-American community. Lastly, a report conducted by UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs found that 40% of all the nonprofits that closed between the periods of 2002 and 2011 served communities that were predominantly African-American and predominantly poor. 

Philanthropy must acknowledge this routine defunding and squeezing out Black organizations and ask itself: What is it that we genuinely want to win? Do we want liberty and justice for all—really for all—to win? If so, the philanthropic sector needs to start funding liberation. Funders can begin by examining their portfolio and identifying how many Black-focused organizations they are currently funding or will commit to funding moving forward. 



Fund the goal, not the tactics. Long-term infrastructure funding is one of the best and most needed ways philanthropy can center equity into its efforts. Black communities don’t need a quick infusion of money; they need long-term investment that will allow Black organizations and Black leaders to develop a power building agenda, a shared strategy, and a set of demands that address multiple strategic goals. 

Funders need to advocate for multi-year, unrestricted funding that allows Black-led organizations to build the infrastructure necessary to make system-level change. For example, funders can make six-or-seven figure, multi-year commitments to Black organizations for a minimum of five years. Funders can also support Black empowering organizations such as the Black Equity Collective, which is fiscally sponsored by SCG, or the Village Fund, sponsored by the LA Partnership for Early Childhood Investment. Lastly, funders can also consider adding an additional 10-20% “Sustainability Allocation” to grant awards to help Black organizations build their reserves. 



Shifting power is required at all levels, including the Boardroom. Not only should organizations invest in the leadership development of current Black Board members, but they also should work to diversify their boards to have a plurality of Black people. Those organizations looking for new Board members should consider filling those positions with Black leaders. Current Board members can also resign from their own Board position (like Alexis Ohanian) and urge for their replacements to be Black. Another consideration is for organizations to create a paid Advisory Board of Black and other POC community leaders to help guide an organization’s efforts. 



This is a crucial moment for white people and non-black people of color to prioritize humility and recognize the ways they’ve been complicit in anti-Blackness. Now is the time to step back and trust Black people, Black leaders, and Black institutions. Funders should not assume what’s best for Black communities and helicopter in with resources and solutions. Often, money is made contingent on compliance, which is always a means of control enforced by White Supremacy. Allies need to be unafraid of honoring and centering Black people, Black issues, and Black experiences and allowing those with lived expertise to drive decisions. A way funders can do this is by declaring “lived experience” as one of their core grantmaking values and using it as a key part of their selection process. Additionally, funders can play a pivotal role in creating spaces for nonprofit leaders to assemble to discuss ways to collectively center Black liberation and advance their work through an anti-racist lens.




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A Message from the Heart + Immediate Actions to Dismantle Racism

Tuesday, June 2, 2020


Dear SCG Community, 


As communities across the country take to the street and risk their lives to fight for justice, SCG stands in solidarity with protestors because Black Lives Matter. We condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy. We are acutely aware that our humanity will not be collectively well until we put a stop to the unjust and senseless murders of Black lives. We are challenging ourselves to be better accomplices to the movement of dismantling racism. 

This past week, as I checked in with the SCG team on their wellbeing, I was reminded of my own privilege. As a white woman, I will never be able to truly fathom the pain that Black men, women, and their loved ones are experiencing. What I do understand is fearing for the safety of those you care deeply about, feeling outraged by repeated tragedies, being tired by the lack of deep change, and channeling the power of profound empathy. I join colleagues across the philanthropic sector in inviting you to summon the courage to be fully present in this moment, to re-imagine a different future, and to begin creating a new normal.

In the wake of the coronavirus global pandemic, Black, Latinx, and people of color face compounding effects of inequities. The work required to undo the deep-rooted structural and systemic racism of the past few hundred years is undeniably daunting. At times, we all feel that we are not doing enough. As a sector, we have clearly not done enough to refute the status quo. However, there are steps that we can each take toward being mindful of our privilege, being in community with others, and ultimately creating a future where Black, Indigenous, and people of color are no longer invisible, oppressed, criminalized, excluded, tokenized, weaponized, and erased. 

Please find below a few personal and collective actions that the SCG team has taken and will continue to pursue. As we all prepare for the long fight ahead, I hope you will consider these immediate actions:



Show up as an ally and accomplice in your organization and communities 

Check-in on Black and people of color in your networks, whether it’s your colleagues, board members, grantees, or partners. As a white ally, consider participating in a local Coming to the Table group. Check out six actions that Christine Margiotta, Executive Director of SVP Los Angeles, recommends for white colleagues who are grieving and want to take action. People of color also have a responsibility in allyship. Michelle Kim suggests actions for Asian and Asian Americans. Regardless of how you show up, be mindful and intentional about how you engage with Black peers.


Have difficult conversations

Whether it’s with your family, friends, children, or colleagues, be vulnerable and open to having difficult conversations. Check out embRACE LA’s toolkit to support you in facilitating dialogues about race. Talk to each other over a virtual meal, about a song, or a movie. Reach out to California Conference for Equality and Justice if you need help facilitating internal conversations in your organizations. 


Practice embodiment

Take care of yourselves in whichever ways that are best for you. Consider the practice of embodiment and somatic movement to feel more grounded, present, open, and connected. 


Consider every dollar that you spend an opportunity to make an impact

Looking for food delivery or takeout, support black-owned restaurants in Los Angeles. Check out a directory of various black-owned businesses. As an organization, consider investing in black-led organizations that are at the forefront of the movement; these organizations need not simply one-time investments but continuous support. When selecting vendors, make sure that they have people of color in leadership positions. As part of the philanthropic sector, we must work to close the gap of funding disparity for community-organizations led by people of color. 


Invest in your team

Equity is a learning journey. Make sure that your organizational budget invests in staff training, and that access to these learning opportunities is equitable across the board. At SCG, we’ve worked with numerous experts, including Heather Hackman Consulting Group, California Conference for Equality and Justice, Dr. Bryant Marks of the National Training Institute on Race & Equity, john a. Powell of Othering & Belonging Institute, Philanthropy Initiative for Racial Equity, and The People's Institute for Survival and Beyond.


Empower teams to have an impact on your organization’s internal culture and equity commitment

A significant part of SCG’s inclusive culture, equity commitment, internal conversations about race and racism, and various other practices are driven by our staff-led committees. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you are interested in empowering your team to be deeply involved in every aspect of holding your organization accountable for your words and actions. 


Name & frame racism

It’s impossible to address what we cannot name. As non-Black allies, it is our duty to learn about the history of systemic racism and the actions we can take against it. Racial Equity Tools provides the fundamentals for you to learn about core concepts, the history of racism and movements, data, and guide to moving a racial justice agenda. Check out Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s reading list to help America transcend its racist heritage. 


Philanthropy must stop being spectators and be committed to something (anything) larger than our own point of view. I and each of us on the SCG team are individually and collectively part of the fight against anti-Blackness and racism, please reach us to any of us should you need support or resources regardless of which role you want to play. As an organization, SCG will host urgent conversations in the next few weeks and share more tools for philanthropy to be part of the movement.

In strength and partnership, 
Christine Essel
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SCG's President's Message - May 2020

Friday, May 29, 2020




Welcome back to the SCG President's Message! SCG is excited to resume our regular communication schedule as we also continue to monitor and support our members' COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. 

While I am happy to return to my monthly platform, my heart is heavy mourning the murder of George Floyd and the 100,000 lives lost during the past few months of the coronavirus pandemic.

As philanthropy shifts our response to support our communities' recovery, we have resoundingly agreed not to go back to normal. At the beginning of this long and challenging road to recovery, we must acknowledge the realities of this so-called "normal."

It is normal for communities of color to be in crisis for hundreds of years.
It is normal for Black, Indigenous, and people of color to be invisible, oppressed, criminalized, excluded, tokenized, weaponized, and erased.
It is normal for our friends, colleagues, neighbors, and fellow citizens to be hurt and deprived of equitable opportunities to thrive.

But acknowledgment is not enough. We must work to eliminate these devastating, structural, systemic inequities that have become normal. We need to create a new normal altogether. 

I have been inspired and moved by the wisdom of our colleagues. In the past few weeks, the SCG community has heard directly from social justice leaders such as Michelle Burton (Community Health Councils), Deepa Iyer (Building Movement Project), Angela Mooney D'Arcy (Sacred Places Institute for Indigenous Peoples), Lyell Sakaue (Bridgespan), and also Aimee Allison (She the People), Cathy Cha (Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund), Sonja Diaz (Latino Public Policy Institute), Shena Ashley (Urban Institute). These thoughtful partners reminded us that the COVID-19 pandemic hit our most vulnerable communities the hardest because it lays bare and amplifies pre-existing systemic inequities.

SCG will continue holding space for our members to build a more equitable future by hosting urgent conversations, taking part in collaborations, coordinating cross-sector efforts, fostering connections, and contributing to narrative change. I would love to hear directly from you on how your organization is building a new normal and how SCG can help advance your work.

You will find below a curation of resources including Philanthropy California's Policy Summit blogs, SCG's analysis of the latest federal relief package, and updates from the Office of the Governor by Kathleen Kelly Janus. And lastly, a warm welcome to 17 new SCG members who are joining our family of leaders to take bold actions and fight for our communities.

In strength and partnership, 

Christine Essel
President & CEO, Southern California Grantmakers



Adopting a Racial Justice Framework for a Resilient Democracy

Inspired by the conversation between Aimee Allison, Shena Ashley, Cathy Cha, and Sonja Diaz, we explore how funders can help build a truly resilient democracy and a path to COVID-19 recovery during this critical election year. 



Five Opportunities for Philanthropy in COVID-19 Response: A Conversation With Secretary Mark Ghaley and Dr. Sandra Hernandez 

Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of California's Health Care Services Agency and Dr. Sandra Hernández, President & CEO of the California Healthcare Foundation, outlined five opportunities for philanthropy to align with state agencies in their COVID-19 responses. 



Mapping the Housing and Homelessness Crisis in California: Root Causes and Philanthropic Opportunities  

California is rapidly approaching a breaking point in its affordable housing and homelessness crisis, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to amplify inequities. Understanding the root causes of the housing and homelessness crisis in California can help philanthropy to take action.  




SCG Analysis: Governor Newsom's May Revision to the 2020-21 State Budget

Seyron Foo, SCG's Vice President of Public Policy & Government Relations, provided an overview of the mechanics of the state budget, details of the proposed budget, and the potential action philanthropy can take.



Updates from the Office of the Governor: May 2020

Philanthropy California invited Kathleen Kelly Janus, Senior Advisor on Social Innovation to Governor Gavin Newsom, to provide updates on California's latest public-private partnerships and upcoming priorities for the state. 




Creating a Roadmap to Recovery 

As communities respond to the COVID-19 crisis, a new foundation-inspired effort has launched to inform the roadmap for a just recovery. The Committee for a Greater Los Angeles is a collaboration between philanthropy, nonprofits, business, government, and researchers from UCLA and USC. Over the last six weeks, the Committee has been laying out strategies to guide policymakers to prioritize the needs of the most impacted residents of LA County and ultimately ensure they will be better off than they were before the crisis. 








American Business Bank


American Business Bank is a relationship-driven bank that partners with middle-market companies to meet their needs by offering professional, high-touch banking.

View SCG Member Profile. 

Bernard Boudreaux


Bernard Boudreaux is the founder and principal of Be Beneficent Consulting, which partners with individuals, nonprofits, and businesses to address social issues within their local communities through action that achieves measurable results.

View SCG Member Profile. 

Celiac Disease Foundation


The Celiac Disease Foundation leads a comprehensive program of research, education, advocacy, and support, to drive diagnosis, treatments, and a cure to improve the quality of life for all those affected by celiac disease.

View SCG Member Profile. 

The Peter W. Doerken Foundation


The Peter W. Doerken Foundation works to support vulnerable women and youth in Los Angeles County and supports a number of charitable and philanthropic organizations locally, nationally, and internationally.

View SCG Member Profile. 

James J. and Sue Femino Foundation


The James J. and Sue Femino Foundation primarily provides support for hospitals, health organizations, and institutions of medical research and education. The Foundation also supports higher and other educational institutions, as well as art, music, and literature.

View SCG Member Profile. 

James Herr


James Herr is the founder of James E. Herr Consulting and is a corporate & foundation philanthropy professional and nonprofit consultant with a demonstrated history of working across broad sectors and constituencies.

View SCG Member Profile. 

Panta Rhea Foundation


The Panta Rhea Foundation is a global family grantmaking foundation catalyzing a just, thriving world that currently funds food sovereignty and vibrant democracy efforts across the United States, Mexico, and the Phillippines.

View SCG Member Profile. 

Lindsay Rachelefsky

Lindsay is the founder of Sky Advisory Group, a full-service consulting firm that advises high net worth individuals, foundation, and corporations on philanthropic strategy and political giving.

View SCG Member Profile. 

SCAN Health Plan


SCAN Health Plan's Independence at Home program is a community-based service that has helped thousands of people remain healthy and happy in their own homes.

View SCG Member Profile. 

Schwab Charitable


Schwab Charitable is an independent 501(c)(3) public charity with a mission to increase charitable giving in the U.S. by providing a tax-smart and simple giving solution to donors and their investment advisors.

View SCG Member Profile. 

Shekels Charitable Foundation


The Shekels Charitable Foundation is dedicated to improving lives both locally and internationally, across various issue areas.

View SCG Member Profile. 

The Smidt Foundation


The Smidt Foundation wants to help achieve opportunity, justice, equality, and safety for all.

View SCG Member Profile. 

SRE Network


The SRE Network works to ensure safe, respectful, and equitable Jewish workplaces and communal spaces by addressing sexual harassment, sexism, and gender discrimination.

View SCG Member Profile. 



UNITE-LA's mission is to ensure the continuous improvement of effective and aligned cradle-to-career public education and workforce development systems in Los Angeles, resulting in all children and youth having access to a high-quality education.

View SCG Member Profile. 

USCCU Community Foundation

USCCU Community Foundation's mission is to enable the Trojan Family’s financial dreams and enhance the quality of life in the communities they serve.

View SCG Member Profile. 

Jan Vanslyke


Jan Vanslyke is the owner of Evaluation Specialists, which partners with community-based prevention, health promotion, education, and social service leaders to help them use research and evaluation to do the most for good.

View SCG Member Profile. 

Visionary Women


Visionary Women is a unique nonprofit community focused on engaging conversations with innovative leaders and funding high impact initiatives for women and girls.

View SCG Member Profile. 




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Five Opportunities for Philanthropy in COVID-19 Response: A Conversation With Secretary Mark Ghaley and Dr. Sandra Hernández

Thursday, May 28, 2020
Last month, we virtually convened over 600 funders from across California for a day dedicated to philanthropy's role in strengthening our democracy and civic engagement during this unprecedented moment. Now, SCG is excited to launch our Post-Policy Summit Blog Series in order to elevate key learnings from the Summit and to further the conversations we began to explore. 

California’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak has focused on providing immediate relief across the state. As we move into the next phase of this pandemic, it will become increasingly urgent for California to enact long-term plans to rebuild our social and economic infrastructure. Philanthropy has the unique ability to support our public institutions by holding space for future thinking and planning. 

For the 2020 Philanthropy California Virtual Policy Summit, we invited Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of California's Health Care Services Agency and Dr. Sandra Hernández, President & CEO of the California Healthcare Foundation to discuss California’s current response efforts and share key opportunities for philanthropy to align with state agencies to support communities across the state. 



California’s overwhelming compliance and support of the Governor’s “Stay-at-Home Order” has led to a unique opportunity for the state to focus on COVID-19 hotspots and its hardest-hit communities. In the coming months, California will need to direct resources into protecting populations that are at high-risk for transmission. 

California’s historically underserved and overlooked populations are shouldering an undue burden of COVID-19 as the virus is disproportionately impacting brown and black communities across the state. Many of these communities have large numbers of essential workers who are going to work without the necessary personal protective equipment to mitigate the spread of COVID. This dire situation also plays out with some of California’s most at-risk facilities, such as residential care facilities for the elderly, foster youth facilities, jails and prison, homeless shelters and encampments, spaces of the congregation, and many more. These facilities need better access to testing, staffing, and broad-scale communication to slow down the transmission of COVID-19. Through a new initiative, California will soon be setting up nearly 100 new sites for testing across the state, focused on lower-income communities that are considered testing deserts. However, there continues to be an urgency in making sure that our communities have equitable access to affordable testing. 


For the last two months, California’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak has focused on mitigation and containment efforts. As California enters the suppression phase of the pandemic, the state will begin directing its resources to quickly identify potential transmission hotspots through testing, tracking, isolating, and quarantining infected people. These strategies will look different across the state and in various communities. 

In the coming weeks, Governor Newsom will bring thousands of new contact tracing staff into local health departments to support suppression efforts. However, the state will still need additional capacity in order to bring contact tracing, isolation, and targeted quarantine to all communities affected by COVID-19. California will look to its philanthropic partners to help communicate with and support diverse communities across the state. Because funders have relationships with community leaders and members, which make them credible messengers, community members are more likely to trust and engage with them. Philanthropy has the opportunity to leverage its relationships with community-based organizations to support communities in culturally responsive ways. 
Additionally, California’s suppression efforts for the next 18-24 months will likely result in the creation of jobs for people who are currently unemployed or underemployed. These new jobs have the potential to become a tremendous stimulus and public health opportunity for California. There is an opportunity for philanthropy and health-focused foundations to launch various economic development and workforce development programs. For the nonprofit sector, it will be increasingly important to synchronize with public institutions to ensure that jobs get developed in places where they're most needed. 


Project Roomkey is a partnership between Governor Newsom, California’s Social Services Department, and various business and community development colleagues. It is designed to provide housing for individuals experiencing homelessness, who are often burdened by significant chronic illness and a higher risk of mortality from COVID-19. Since its inception, this initiative has not only become an opportunity to move thousands of vulnerable and unsheltered individuals into hotels with the services they need but also a way to help hotels with a secure source of business and revenue. Down the road, there is an opportunity to turn some of the Project Roomkey facilities into permanent, supportive housing for a considerable segment of our population facing homelessness.

For Project Roomkey to be widely adopted across California, Philanthropy can play an essential role in advocating for the initiative as a key strategy in creating long-term permanent housing. By providing safe shelters for individuals in need, we can, in turn, prevent our health system from becoming overwhelmed.   


COVID-19 is a call to action for philanthropy to come together and establish ways to work jointly with the Governor, the California Department of Public Health, and other state agencies. As the state continues to give guidance, resources, and set guardrails, local communities must take charge in figuring out their unique regional opportunities and challenges. Fortunately, many of these locations already have community foundations with deep roots in historically underserved communities. Leveraging their relationships with businesses, local health departments, universities, and many others, philanthropic institutions can support the administration's efforts to maximize impact. There is an opportunity for philanthropy to continue aligning with local governments to ensure that marginalized communities don’t suffer preventable outcomes. 


It is time to start planning for the long-term economic and public health challenges that will emerge in the next 1-3 years or risk missing a pivotal opportunity to rewrite history for decades to come. Philanthropy must ask: “What have we learned from this? What does it mean for our funding? What will our delivery system look like in the future?” Everything we have learned from this moment is going to be critical and philanthropy will need to work with local and state governments on the policy solutions that will move our state forward. 




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Adopting a Racial Justice Framework for a Resilient Democracy

Thursday, May 28, 2020
Last month, we virtually convened over 600 funders from across California for a day dedicated to philanthropy's role in strengthening our democracy and civic engagement during this unprecedented moment. Now, SCG is excited to launch our Post-Policy Summit Blog Series in order to elevate key learnings from the Summit and to further the conversations we began to explore. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed our world and further exposed the stark realities of our inequitable systems. Unsurprisingly, this outbreak has disproportionately impacted and devastated communities of color, who have long grappled with the legacies of racial injustice and economic disenfranchisement. As we approach the November elections and the 2020 Census deadline, these communities are now facing worsened conditions in addition to a new set of challenges that threaten the integrity of our democratic systems. 

At the 2020 Philanthropy California Virtual Policy Summit, Aimee Allison, Shena Ashley, Cathy Cha, and Sonja Diaz discussed how philanthropy can address these inequities and protect our democracy during this pandemic and critical election year. These four dynamic leaders unanimously agreed that we cannot go back to “normal” and that building a truly resilient democracy and a path to recovery will require funders to adopt a racial justice framework in their advocacy and response efforts. Philanthropy has long worked to address systemic inequities, but now more than ever, the sector has an opportunity to be a leader in advocacy and policy change to support our most vulnerable communities.


CATHY: What are the critical stories related to vulnerable communities, equity, and COVID-19 that we should be working to uplift to the media in order to shape a new narrative with new voices for our rapidly changing world?

SONJA: The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the inequities that California was already dealing with such as poverty and homelessness. These worsened inequities are disproportionately devastating communities of color. Research shows that women of color overwhelmingly are on the front lines of our workforce and that many don’t have access to quality and affordable healthcare. In Los Angeles County, the pandemic has hit the retail and service sectors the hardest. These businesses have especially impacted Asian American and Latinx communities, which also happen to be California’s fastest-growing demographics and future workforce. How will California continue to be the fifth-largest economy in the world if its workforce and families continue to get sick, lose jobs, and suffer? We need to continue elevating these inequities and working to ensure that everyone is protected. If we fail to protect our most vulnerable communities, the second wave of the virus will hit all of us even harder and result in an even greater loss of wealth and an unnecessary loss of life. 

AIMEE: People of color are also courageously responding to this crisis. This moment calls on us to explicitly acknowledge how women of color are shaping democracy. Philanthropy needs to begin supporting and investing in narratives that are fact-based, science-based, and that elevate the voices of indigenous, Latinx, and black leaders. As COVID-19 continues to disproportionately affect Black, Brown, Asian American, and Indigenous communities, we cannot afford for the experiences of people of color to get pushed aside or to be treated as add-ons. Right now, women of color are some of the most prolific and courageous leaders defining a political agenda in California and nationally. These women are the trusted voices in their communities and will be sought after for their leadership and counsel as we define the road to recovery for COVID-19. Philanthropy can catalyze impact by validating and supporting the platforms of these leaders across the state. 


CATHY: Despite the coronavirus, we are still approaching the 2020 Census deadline and one of the most consequential elections in our lifetimes. How can we ensure that we hear the voices of our most marginalized communities and protect the integrity of our democratic systems? 

SONJA: Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Census was a prominent focus for advocates and civil society organizations. It is vital that these efforts continue to be prioritized to ensure that our policymakers have the most accurate data to inform their decision making. When I founded the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative, there were huge data gaps around race, demography, and geography, which meant that communities were being left out of policy decisions. Philanthropy and our state leaders can work to ensure we don't go another ten years without statewide advocacy research organizations. Funders can also support these advocates and civil society organizations in continuing and reimagining their Census work to make sure that the voices of our communities aren’t silenced for another decade. 

AIMEE: Philanthropy can work to ensure that communities, especially communities of color, have the ability and information needed to cast a vote in our November elections. It is not an exaggeration to say that our democracy and elections are currently threatened by disinformation, voter suppression, and an overwhelming fear as people remain isolated at home. Philanthropy can provide resources and infrastructure to organizations already working to adapt and digitize voter education, advocacy, and mobilization efforts. Collectively, we can reimagine what participating in a democracy looks like and create new ways for people to make their voices heard. I encourage philanthropy to step up in this moment when we lack federal expertise and leadership, in order to help our state face this pandemic in a way that makes sense for our 40 million residents. Not to overstate it, but philanthropy can save democracy.


CATHY: What are the lasting impacts of this pandemic on the nonprofit sector? How can we re-imagine philanthropy’s role in the sector and the ways foundations think about their investments? 

SHENA: The COVID-19 pandemic has positioned nonprofits as necessary enterprises for economic recovery, as is demonstrated by their inclusion in response efforts such as the SBA loans. Additionally, we’ll also see a shift around how the nonprofit sector thinks about financial health. This crisis has shown the sector the vulnerability and risk inherent in relying on earned revenue as the key element of nonprofit sustainability. As nonprofits shift their operating strategies, foundations will need to reimagine their own practices and develop a different picture of what financial health looks like for their grantees. Empirical studies demonstrate foundations are less likely to fund nonprofits having 6 months or more of reserves and need to rethink such restrictions. To help move our economy forward, foundations also have an opportunity to reimagine how to utilize their larger set of assets, current portfolios, and endowments to participate in impactful practices like impact investing, loan equity sharing, and more. Now is the time for foundations to lift restrictions to allow for new strategies to emerge as the sector enters an economic down-cycle that will impact them as well. 

AIMEE: Philanthropy can begin to invest in projects and solutions that are race-conscious. The nonprofits that are the most affected right now tend to be located in the communities most impacted by the pandemic. Unsurprisingly, these nonprofits tend to be led by people of color and have not received the wide-scale public support and investment they need to survive. By adopting a racial justice framework, philanthropy can reexamine its current grantmaking practices to allow for deeper and more meaningful investments in communities and organizations that are supporting those most devastated by COVID-19 and systemic inequities. 


CATHY: What role can philanthropy play in advocacy and policy as we begin shaping our new world? 

SHENA: There are policy windows opening up at this time, particularly around recovery. For example, the federal infrastructure being built to send cash payments to individuals is helping to remove administrative barriers that have historically obstructed progress on universal basic income. These developments will help create more policy opportunities for UBI in the future, especially as unemployment levels continue to rise due to COVID-19, new technologies, and our rapidly changing workforce. There’s also an opportunity to expand access to healthcare and legal services for people living in remote locations. The innovations that have emerged around telemedicine and telelegal services have given people access to the healthcare and civil legal aid that they’ve needed but haven’t had access to previously. This is a moment of tremendous possibility where ideas that were once considered unattainable are now within reach. 

SONJA: Crisis transforms society. Philanthropy has a key role to play during this pandemic by ensuring that vulnerable communities are able to survive and emerge without losing everything. One of the byproducts of the Great Recession was our collective willingness to foster cross-sector partnerships between philanthropy and the government to solve our most pressing issues. We recently saw an example of this collaboration with the California Immigrant Resilience Fund, which will ensure that about 150,000 of the state's undocumented workers will receive aid since they were ineligible for any support under the Federal Cares Act. We need to continue identifying our biggest gaps and vulnerabilities in order to envision new ways for people to have access to basic needs like healthcare, housing, and wealth. Let’s not go back to “normal” because it wasn’t normal. I’d love to think of this moment as an opportunity to create something that actually works for all of us. 



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Mapping the Housing and Homelessness Crisis in California: Trends, Effects, and Philanthropic Opportunities (Updated)

Thursday, May 28, 2020
In April, we virtually convened over 600 funders from across California for a day dedicated to philanthropy's role in strengthening our democracy and civic engagement during this unprecedented moment. Now, SCG is excited to launch our Post-Policy Summit Blog Series in order to elevate key learnings from the Summit and to further the conversations we began to explore. 

Half of all people experiencing unsheltered homelessness in the United States live in California. That is more than 108,000 people in our state. With such staggering numbers, California is quickly approaching a breaking point in our affordable housing and homelessness crisis, where more people will be forced outdoors and out of state, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to amplify inequities.  

At the 2020 Philanthropy California Virtual Policy Summit, we invited a panel of experts to discuss the housing and homelessness crisis in California and how the COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating this crisis, including Andrea Iloulian, Senior Program Officer, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation; Elizabeth Kneebone, Research Director, Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley; and Jazmin Segura, Program Officer, Common Counsel Foundation. These leaders mapped the history of the housing and homelessness crisis in California by sharing decades worth of data to illustrate trends and the scale of the current needs, shared learnings from community partners working on the frontlines of this crisis, and elevated key opportunities for philanthropy to take action. 



California has seen significant economic growth since 1980 as wages and jobs have increased in certain sectors across the state. At the same time, however, government and housing developers slowed production considerably, stepping out of pace and driving up demand. Additionally, when California did see some growth in housing supply over the past few years, the houses built by developers tended to be larger, single-family homes, which are generally more expensive. Over the decades, this focus on market driven-development has resulted in the overproduction of luxury housing and has failed to increase the production and availability of affordable housing. As of 2018, in the San Francisco Silicon Valley area, the typical price of an entry-level home was over $760,000. In Los Angeles, the typical entry price was approaching half a million dollars which has put homeownership out of reach for more and more households across California.


The less attainable homeownership becomes, the more pressure there is on the rental market to absorb people who cannot afford to buy homes. In recent years, the fastest-growing segment of the rental market are households making over $100,000. As higher-income households have relied more heavily on the rental stock in recent years, there has been a tremendous increase in rents. In short, California is not pursuing enough affordable housing production and is also not protecting stock that was once affordable to lower- and moderate-income households, which has created a mismatch between supply and demand. Today, the average asking rent for a two-bedroom house in California frequently outstrips what the typical renter’s income could afford without becoming cost-burdened


It is becoming increasingly difficult for people living on extremely low incomes to pay rent. These households are living on $x,xxx each month, and are the most vulnerable and put at the highest risk of becoming homeless because of the lack of economic opportunity to earn higher wages and wealth for their households. Rent and the cost of healthcare and basic needs takes up the majority of these households’ monthly income. Nearly 90% of households living on low incomes pay at least a third of their income to rent — nearly 75% of them paying more than half of their total income. California has almost 1.3 million extremely low-income renter households and only 31 affordable homes for every 100 of these households. In total, California has a housing shortfall of 998,613 homes for people living on extremely low incomes. 


While California has seen wage growth and better economic performance in a number of regions, a lot of these gains happened at the top end of the income distribution. The wages of extremely low-income households have stagnated as price pressures and rental costs have increased. This housing and income gap is the underpinning of the homelessness crisis in California. Between 2017-2019, almost every county in California has experienced an increase in homelessness. During this period, Los Angeles saw a 7% increase in homelessness, San Francisco saw a 17% increase, and Alameda, Contra Costa, Orange, and San Bernardino County all saw a 40% increase. 


Mental health and addiction issues are often considered the primary drivers of homelessness. However, the magnitude of this crisis underscores how much homelessness is actually an economically-driven crisis. Disparities are omnipresent in the housing system from the affordability of the housing stock, to where affordable housing is located, to long-standing patterns of economic and racial segregation* and discrimination in the financial sector, real estate, and government programs related to homeownership. These challenges disproportionately impact people of color. The homelessness crisis is also increasingly affecting seniors and people over 55, many of whom are experiencing homelessness for the first time. 


There are many households, which may not have been housing insecure before COVID-19, are now vulnerable because of the economic fallout of the pandemic. There are about 1.2 million households, who were not put at risk before, are now at risk of losing jobs and wages because of the economic impacts and responses to COVID-19. As the stay-at-home order continues and the moratorium on evictions end, these households will become increasingly at risk of losing their housing and for those homes and rental properties that may have been affordable to go back into the housing market.


The COVID-19 crisis is having tremendous health impacts for people that are living without shelter. People experiencing homelessness are more likely to be exposed to COVID-19 than other populations and are also more likely to have underlying health conditions. This issue is especially urgent for the older populations that are homeless. Additionally, frontline workers and providers are often at higher risk of exposure to COVID-19. Many of these essential workers, who staff grocery stores and delivery services are not paid living wages and often live in households with many which could cause rapid exposure to the virus. 



Community partners working to address the housing and homelessness crisis are being stretched very thin as they urgently work to respond to increasing safety-net needs on top of their day-to-day organizing, civic engagement, and advocacy work. In particular, this pressure is affecting organizations working with the most impacted communities, such as the reentry population and undocumented immigrants. To support, philanthropy must increase flexibility in all grantmaking practices from reducing or eliminating reporting, streamlining applications, increasing funding to match the need, and making all grants general operating support. Community-based organizations continue to respond to emerging needs while having to re-strategize and pivot on a daily or weekly basis, philanthropy has an immediate opportunity to meet the moment. 


In Los Angeles, there’s currently a coalition of over 250 organizations and small businesses that have been working with the City Council and the County Board of Supervisors to move forward on renter protections and moratoriums on evictions. In the Bay Area, groups are demanding that unhoused communities get placed into empty hotels and for moratoriums on sweep encampments. This strong, urban mobilization is also beginning to emerge in areas where tenant protections were once considered invisible by local government officials such as Fresno, Tulane, Murcia, or Riverside. On a statewide scale, a diverse coalition of stakeholders from many sectors is coming together to articulate the need for affordable homes and set bold but achievable goals. Housing California and the California Housing Partnership have teamed up on California’s Roadmap HOME 2030, an initiative to develop a "Marshall Plan" that will set the course to advance policy solutions that shift funds and create structural and systems reform at scale. As this momentum continues to build, philanthropy can play a critical role in facilitating these connections and helping to ensure that local governments are moving forward with these protections for renters and unhoused communities. These efforts underpin housing as a human right, rather than a commodity.  


Philanthropy can support data integrity efforts to create quantitative measures to identify people who are put at a high risk of becoming homeless. This is caused by a lack of data integration across the housing continuum and jurisdictional boundaries. Insufficient coordination and access to data reduce an organization's ability to use predictive analytics to identify individuals put at high risk and accurately funnel preventive service dollars. Last year, the state legislature passed a resolution that allows County entities to share data around groups put at high-risk. Moving forward, the challenge will be finding a platform that can successfully integrate cross-jurisdictional data systems and ensure that privacy is protected. Philanthropy can help explore what this tool or system looks like to better connect jurisdictions across the state and share data more fluidly. This integrative platform also has the potential to help regions share institutional capacity and avoid competing for funds that can instead be used collaboratively. 

**This article is a snapshot of our speakers’ high-level conversation on the housing and homelessness crisis in California and should be considered an introduction to our state’s history of racial disparities and systemic inequities. SCG encourages you to continue learning about the racial policies and history that serve as the root causes of these housing and homelessness trends. 




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SCG Analysis: Governor Newsom's May Revision to the 2020-21 State Budget

Monday, May 18, 2020

By Seyron Foo, Vice President, Public Policy & Government Relations, Southern California Grantmakers & Philanthropy California


On Thursday, May 14, the Governor released his May Revision for the state budget, reflecting the updated revenue forecast for the state’s finances. As a result of the economic contraction due to the coronavirus epidemic, the May Revision contains the Governor’s plan to address a $54.3 billion budget problem of which $41.2 billion reflects a decrease in revenues in our state’s General Fund for the upcoming fiscal year.  
This budget brief provides an overview of the mechanics of the state budget, details of the proposed budget, and the potential action philanthropy can take, including the types of advocacy available to private and public foundations. This budget brief follows our SCG Weekly Funders' Briefing from April 30 about what our communities will face in the wake of cuts to critical social services and how philanthropy can begin to prepare. 

Make no mistake – California is entering a turbulent time with potential cuts to social safety net services over the next several years, absent federal action to provide aid to California. The Governor has set forth $15 billion in “triggers” that would result in cuts should federal assistance not arrive.
Many hard-earned gains that took nearly a decade to win will face significant setbacks given the choices legislators face. The policymaking process for a budget in contraction – for better or for worse – often reflects a zero-sum game where a program protected means another program faces draconian cuts, many times impacting communities that are institutionally underserved. Philanthropy cannot replace the size and scope of government resources. It can, however, with nonprofit partners, help policymakers prioritize solutions and support innovation amidst a time of scarcity. We can also recognize and urge for additional federal resources to the state.


Budget Basics

The state’s budget runs from July 1 through June 30 of the following year. The proposed budget reflects the state’s plan for fiscal year (FY) 2020-2021, which starts on July 1, 2020. By state constitutional mandate, the Legislature must pass a balanced budget with a majority vote by June 15.
Unlike the federal government, which can engage in deficit spending given its control of monetary policy, California’s Legislature must pass a balanced budget. Through years of prudent fiscal management, the state has several “rainy day” funds to help weather and blunt the impacts of the deficit. However, staff notes that the reserves cumulatively (approximately $18 billion) fall short of the current deficit. Furthermore, recognizing that the budget will be imbalanced structurally throughout the economic recession (e.g. the state’s current spending will exceed projected revenues), the Governor proposes to draw down the reserves over a few fiscal years.
The state’s budget is composed of the General Fund and multiple special funds. The General Fund supports a broad array of social services, while special funds support a dedicated purpose. To “balance” the budget, a common tactic includes the General Fund taking a loan out from various special funds. For example, the state’s licensing boards for different professions, such as doctors, nurses, cosmetologists, acupuncturists, etc., all operate special funds derived from licensing fees. The state has historically turned to the reserves in these special funds for “loans” to help cover expenditures in the General Fund.  
Other tactics include payment deferrals – in its most crude form, delaying a payment due on June 30 (the last day of a fiscal year) to July 1 (the beginning of the next fiscal year) to achieve a balanced budget. While these accounting maneuvers may blunt some of the negative impacts in the short term, such tactics have limited effect when the budget is severely impacted over a sustained period of time.
Finally, the May Revision typically reflects revenue collected by the state after the filing of taxes in April. Because federal and state governments delayed tax return filing deadlines to July 15, the state will not have a more accurate picture of the impact on revenues until August. At that time, the state’s Department of Finance will release revised revenues. It is more than likely the state will have to modify its budget later this year to address shortfalls.


Issues Areas of Interest

While the budget presents a challenge to our most vulnerable communities, the Governor has attempted to take a balanced approach in identifying reductions. The proposed budget does not reduce CalWORKS grants, a public assistance program that provides cash aid and services to eligible families that have a child(ren) in the home nor does it rescind recent expansions to the Earned Income Tax Credit, a powerful anti-poverty tool. However, as the California Budget and Policy Center notes in their "First Look," the Governor does not expand the EITC to Californians with low incomes who file their taxes with federally issued Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs). The budget also makes a one-time infusion of $30 million to food banks.
This brief touches on areas where members have expressed interest to public policy staff over the last several budget cycles. Given the breadth of the budget, if you’re not seeing your interests below, please be in touch with us. Your input matters and assists us in gauging which issues to highlight and cover for future analysis.

Child Welfare

As a part of the May Revision, the Governor makes $90.5 million in cuts for various child welfare programs related to foster care, child protection services, and other programs representing a 1.5 percent reduction in spending. These program reductions include the following:

  • Foster Family Agencies—The May Revision eliminates Foster Family Agency social worker rate increases. This proposal would result in a savings of $4.8 million General Fund in 2020-21.
  • Family Urgent Response System (FURS)—The May Revision eliminates the Family Urgent Response System. This proposal would result in a savings of $30 million General Fund in 2020-21. FURS provides intervention services, through telephone support and in-person mobile response, to help children and their caregivers develop strong and healthy relationships, even in challenging situations. This approach decreases avoidable calls to law enforcement and ensures fewer contacts between system-involved youth and the criminal justice system.
  • Public Health Nurse Early Intervention Program—The May Revision eliminates the Public Health Nurse Early Intervention Program in Los Angeles County. The program provides home services after calls to the child protection hotline are made on behalf of children 2 years old or younger. This proposal would result in a savings of $8.3 million General Fund in 2020-21.
  • Continuum of Care Reform Rates—Reduces spending by $28.8 million by decreasing short-term residential treatment program provider payment rates of five percent. If federal assistance materializes, this will not occur.


Criminal Justice

The Administration proposes to phase out the closure of contracted in-state privately and publicly operated prisons and a state-run prison for incarcerated men in the next five years. This reflects the ongoing decline in incarcerated individuals, accelerated by the response to the pandemic by releasing persons who were within 60 days of release at the beginning of April 2020, and who were not serving a current term for domestic violence, a violent felony, or required to register as a sex offender.
The budget withdraws several proposals to support incarcerated individuals, including providing laptops to inmates participating in academic and vocational training ($26.9 million) and tuition, books, materials, training, and equipment for incarcerated persons ($1.8 million).
Funders should note that the state will pursue federal Medicaid dollars for incarcerated persons by making current state reentry facilities eligible through operational changes. This will allow the state to bring in $4.2 million this coming fiscal year.
The Governor’s May Revision withdraws the proposal to move the Division of Juvenile Justice into from the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to the Health and Human Services Agency. Instead, the May Revision proposes to reform the state’s juvenile justice system by transferring the responsibility for managing all youthful offenders to local jurisdictions. The Governor proposes to stop intake of new juvenile offenders effective January 1, 2021 and begin the closure of all three state juvenile facilities and the fire camp through the attrition of the current population.


Early Childhood Education

The Governor retrenches on many of the investments in early childhood education as a result of the revenue shortfall.

  • Department of Early Childhood Development: An earlier proposal to create this department is rescinded. However, to meet the goal of consolidating the state’s early learning and child care programs under one agency, the May Revision proposes to modify this proposal by transferring existing child care programs in the Department of Education to the Department of Social Services.

Child care plays an important part in early childhood development in our state. Following an increase of $53.3 million federal Child Care and Development Block Grant funds for federal fiscal year 2020, the May Revision proposes to increase access for approximately 5,600 children in the Alternative Payment Program. However, multiple cuts are in place absent additional federal intervention including $363 million investment in child care workforce development and infrastructure.

Additional cuts would follow if federal assistance fails to follow. These include:

  • Elimination of 10,000 childcare slots in this current fiscal year and 10,000 in next year’s budget. ($159.5 million)
  • Suspension of the cost-of-living adjustment ($11.6 million)
  • Eliminate a 1 percent add-on to full-day State preschool reimbursement rate ($6.3 million)


Education: K-12

Proposition 98 provides a minimum funding guarantee, guaranteeing about half of General Fund revenues to K-12 education. Over the last few years, the state has spent above the minimum guarantee. In its May Revision, the budget funds education at the minimum thresholds required by Proposition 98. Consequently, the Governor proposes reductions to education by $17.5 billion. For additional K-12 education and postsecondary education, we suggest heading over to for their coverage.
The Local Control Funding Formula is the state’s attempt to address persistent inequities in education funding in California. Approximately 80 percent of a school district’s budget comes from LCCF. The Governor proposes a 10 percent cut ($6.5 billion). This reduction includes the elimination of a 2.31 percent cost-of-living adjustment. This reduction will be triggered off if the federal government provides sufficient funding to backfill this cut.
The Governor had proposed several new programs in January. Many of these programs have been withdrawn including:

  • Educator Workforce Investment Grants: $350 million
  • Opportunity Grants: $300.3 million
  • Community Schools Grants: $300 million
  • Special Education Preschool Grant: $250 million
  • Workforce Development Grants: $193 million
  • Teacher Residency Program: $175 million
  • Credential Award Program: $100 million
  • Child Nutrition Programs: $70 million
  • Classified Teacher Credential Program: $64.1 million
  • Local Services Coordination (CCEE): $18 million
  • Computer Science Supplementary Authorization Incentive: $15 million
  • Online Resource Subscriptions for Schools: $2.5 million
  • California College Guidance Initiative: $2.5 million
  • Computer Science Resource Lead: $2.5 million
  • School Climate Workgroup: $150,000


The May Revision includes the following triggers should federal resources not materialize. These cuts total $352.9 million spanning:

  • After School Education and Safety Program: $100 million
  • K-12 Strong Workforce Program: $79.4 million
  • Career Technical Education Incentive Grant Program: $77.4 million • Adult Education Block Grant: $66.7 million
  • California Partnership Academies: $9.4 million
  • Career Technical Education Initiative: $7.7 million
  • Exploratorium: $3.5 million
  • Online Resource Subscriptions for Schools: $3 million
  • Specialized Secondary Program: $2.4 million
  • Agricultural Career Technical Education Incentive Grant: $2.1 million
  • Clean Technology Partnership: $1.3 million 



Prior to the pandemic, the state had set to expand Medi-Cal, the state’s implementation of the federal Medicaid program, to better support institutionally underserved communities, such as undocumented immigrants, older adults, and people with disabilities. Many of these proposals have been withdrawn in light of the budget deficit. The state expects that Medi-Cal will provide health coverage for 14.5 million people (36 percent of the state’s population) in July 2020, approximately 2 million persons more due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The May Revision withdraws several expansions for Medi-Cal eligibility, including:

  • California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal (CalAIM)—The May Revision proposes to delay the implementation of the CalAIM initiative. As discussed in our February Health Funders’ Peer Group meeting, the program set forth a bold vision for healthcare that would have also helped find housing for people experiencing homelessness and offer meals for older adults as part of a recognition that the social determinants of health would drive positive health outcomes.
  • Full-Scope Medi-Cal to Undocumented Older Adults—The May Revision proposes to withdraw this proposal for a savings of $112.7 million ($87 million General Fund), inclusive of In-Home Supportive Services costs.
  • Medi-Cal for Older Adults and People with Disabilities—The May Revision proposes not to implement the 2019 Budget Act expansion of Medi-Cal to older adults and people with disabilities with  incomes between 123 percent and 138 percent of the federal poverty level, for a savings of $135.5 million ($67.7 million General Fund).
  • Hearing Aids for Children—The May Revision proposes to withdraw its proposal to assist with the cost of hearing aids and related services for children without health insurance coverage in households with incomes up to 600 percent of the federal poverty level, for a savings of $5 million General Fund. 


Despite withdrawing several proposals, the May Revision proposes to preserve the eligibility of undocumented children and young adults for Medi-Cal though the state emphasized that such eligibility is optional from the state’s perspective. Additional cuts will occur if federal assistance does not materialize. They include:

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Hospital—The May Revision proposes to eliminate a supplemental payment for this hospital, which results in $8.2 million General Fund savings in 2020-21 and $12.4 million ongoing. Located in Willowbrook in Los Angeles County, this hospital serves communities of color by functioning as a hub of a wide network of clinics, neighborhood outposts designed to provide the day-to-day care residents need. Politico, in a story about the hospital’s rebirth, notes that in addition to this hub, the hospital focuses on acute-care and highly specialized services for a smaller but sicker group of patients.
  • Family Mosaic Project—The May Revision proposes to eliminate this state-funded project for an ongoing General Fund savings of $1.1 million beginning in 2020-21. The Family Mosaic Program (FMP) provides mental health treatment, intensive case management and other service interventions for children with serious emotional problems who are at risk of out-of-home placement or who have already been removed and placed out of their homes. The FMP staff utilizes a family-driven model of care when working with families to provide needed and useful assistance to children and their families.


Housing and Homelessness

The decline in revenues means that the proposal to expand Los Angeles’s Flexible Housing Subsidy Pool, a local program jumpstarted by as public-private partnership between The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas’s Office,  to a statewide initiative is being withdrawn. Instead, the Administration is deploying federal and state dollars to its Project Room Key Initiative and providing direct assistance to cities and counties from federal resources by the CARES Act.
Project Roomkey is a multi-agency state effort to provide safe isolation motel rooms for vulnerable individuals experiencing homelessness. This occupancy program is currently supported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through May 31, 2020. The state will request 30-day extensions as necessary. As of May 14, the state and local jurisdictions have secured 15,000 hotel and motel units, of which more than 7,200 are occupied, and purchased and disbursed 1,305 trailers to local governments to house people experiencing homelessness.
The May Revision allocates a portion of the state’s CARES Act funding to local governments—$450 million to cities and $1.3 billion to counties—to be used toward homelessness, public health, public safety, and other services to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the withdrawal of several programs, the Governor’s proposed budget recognizes that immense need to coordinate the various state activities related to homelessness. To that end, the budget proposes $1.5 million and 10 permanent positions in the state’s Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council to implement statutory mandates and strengthen the Council’s strategic coordination of the state’s efforts to address homelessness.
For housing, the May Revision proposes:

  • National Mortgage Settlement—The May Revision proposes to spend $331 million in National Mortgage Settlement funds for housing counseling, mortgage assistance and renter legal aid services as follows: the California Housing Financing Agency will administer $300 million for housing counseling and mortgage assistance, and the remaining $31 million to the Judicial Council to provide grants to legal aid services organizations.
  • Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC)—The May Revision maintains the $500 million in low-income housing state tax credits in the Governor's Budget. LIHTC has been one of many crucial tools to facilitate the construction of affordable housing in the state. 


Role of Philanthropy

If you are a public foundation, such a community foundation, United Way, or issue-based donor-advised fund sponsor, you can engage in direct lobbying. This means you can ask legislators to take a position on a bill – including the state budget – and encourage people and organizations to also engage in lobbying. This also means you can advocate for the HEROES Act, federal legislation that would provide $1 trillion in federal resources to states. 
If you are a private foundation or unable to partake in direct lobbying activities, advocacy still plays an important role. This includes educating a policymaker on a topic – for example, the importance of early childhood education and its lasting impacts on a person’s life – without taking a position on an active piece of legislation. You may contact policymakers to discuss and inform on such issues so long as a position on a bill, such as the budget bill, is not expressed. Additionally, private foundations can always provide unrestricted operating grants to nonprofit partners, including advocacy nonprofits, who engage in lobbying – so long as the foundations do not specify that the unrestricted operating grants for lobbying.
You can always reach out to Philanthropy CA’s public policy staff to clarify advocacy questions or contact our partners at the Alliance for Justice’s Bolder Advocacy initiative.
Finally, as our colleagues at Funders Together to End Homelessness have led on this issue, as you engage in conversations with policymakers, it is critical to keep racial equity at the forefront of our community relief and recovery efforts, as well as our policy, asks. We have witnessed various relief bills that happen when equity, and specifically racial equity, is not a part of the policymaking process – translating to fewer resources for communities most impacted but the pandemic.

If you have questions or comments, please submit to Seyron Foo, Vice President of Public Policy and Government Relations at [email protected].


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SCG’s Analysis of H.R. 266: Congress Boosts Funds for Crucial Programs, No Nonprofit Funds Set Aside

Friday, April 24, 2020

By Seyron Foo

The President signed H.R. 266, into law today to replenish the depleted federal programs that support nonprofits (and small businesses). H.R. 266 will provide an additional $484 billion for programs established through the CARES Act.
The legislation includes:

  • $310 billion in additional lending authority for the Paycheck Protection Program, with funds set aside to support loans issued by smaller lenders;
  • $60 billion for separate disaster loans to small businesses;
  • $75 billion for hospitals;
  • $25 billion for virus testing.


Philanthropy California – the alliance of Northern California, San Diego, and Southern California Grantmakers – continues its advocacy efforts to ensure that nonprofits receive the critical federal investments needed to continue serving communities.
The bill does not address the critical needs raised by nonprofits and philanthropy, including increasing the benefit amounts for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – known as CalFresh in California and colloquially as food stamps. The bill also neglects crucial investments to support people experiencing homelessness. Finally, the programs identified exclude undocumented immigrant entrepreneurs.

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provides zero-fee loans of up to $10 million to cover payroll for nonprofits and small businesses. Its popularity lies in the loan forgiveness component, where nonprofits and small businesses that retain employees and their salary levels between March through June will have the loan converted into a grant.
The fund has been replenished with an additional $310 billion after exhausting its $349 billion in two weeks. Administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the fund has faced criticism for being difficult to access by smaller organizations. Funds must be accessed through an existing SBA-approved lender and some financial institutions prioritized existing clients.
Independent Sector, of which SCG is a member, has an informative piece about applying for the funds in the PPP.  
The bill has provided provisions for smaller lenders. Of the $310 billion in new allocations, $60 billion would be dedicated to smaller institutions. Specifically, $30 billion is set aside for community development financial institutions (CDFIs), minority-owned lending institutions, and credit unions of less than $10 billion. The remaining $30 billion would be set aside for institutions with $10 billion to $50 billion in consolidated assets.

Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL)

Unlike PPP, which requires a financial institution as an intermediary, nonprofits and small businesses can apply directly to the SBA for an EIDL. The bill makes an additional $10 billion available to the EIDL program on top of the $10 billion exhausted in the initial CARES Act allocation.
SBA provides an advance of $10,000 to small businesses and nonprofits that apply for the EIDL. This advance should be disbursed within three days of applying for the loan, but reports have indicated longer wait times. Unlike the PPP, the loans are not forgivable. An organization can request a loan of up to $2 million that carry interest rates of up to 2.75 percent for nonprofits, as well as principal and interest deferment for up to 4 years. The loans may be used to pay for expenses that could have been met had the disaster not occurred, including payroll and other operating expenses such as rent.
If the loan amount is $200,000 or less, the SBA will waive loan guarantee and other creditworthiness requirements. The $10,000 advance does not need to be repaid, even if the nonprofit is subsequently denied an EIDL for the larger loan amount. 
Eligible grant recipients must have been in operation on January 31, 2020.  A nonprofit that receives an EIDL between January 31, 2020, and June 30, 2020, as a result of a COVID-19 disaster declaration, is eligible to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan or the business may refinance their EIDL into a PPP loan. In either case, the emergency EIDL grant award of up to $10,000 would be subtracted from the amount forgiven in the PPP. The application for EIDL can be found here.
The remaining balance of the appropriation, $50 billion, will provide guarantees for other SBA loan programs (not direct relief).

Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund

The legislation also provides for additional monies for hospitals and testing. Specifically:

  • Hospitals: The bill provides $75 billion for funding that would go to public entities, providers enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid, and other for-profit and nonprofit entities that provide diagnoses, testing, or care for individuals with COVID-19. The original CARES Act provided $100 billion.
  • Testing: An additional $25 billion is provided for testing. According to an analysis by Bloomberg Government, funding could be used for manufacturing and distributing tests, procuring supplies such as personal protective equipment needed to administer tests, developing rapid point-of-care tests, and conducting surveillance and contact tracing. SCG staff notes that testing is crucial to Governor Newsom’s framework to re-open the economy. The more testing capability the state has, combined with other factors, the more likely the state can lift its orders.

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SCG Community: Six Questions You Can Ask To Support Disability Inclusion

Thursday, April 23, 2020

by Ryan Easterly, Executive Director, WITH Foundation

Funders have an opportunity to protect and preserve disability civil and human rights for the 1 in 4 Americans that have a disability. How can we alter our practices to be intentional about disability-inclusive giving? How can applying a disability lens create more effective grantmaking, especially now?  

Crises like this pandemic can overshadow the needs and experiences of the disability, chronically ill, and aging communities. Below are six questions funders can ask potential and current grantees in support of disability inclusion, now and in your overall grantmaking strategies. 

1. How does your work impact disability communities?

It is essential to ask how an organization is being intentional in serving and impacting disability communities. The experience of disability occurs within all communities, whether based on gender, gender expression, race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, family status, religious affiliation, class, or veteran status. As funders, we can create a space for grantees to be transparent about their outreach to the disability community - how they plan to do outreach, what the messaging looks like, and how they plan to implement any future changes. Set the expectation that an organization should provide insight into its outreach within disability communities and local/national disability organizations.

2. Do you allocate funds in your budgets for accessibility or access needs?

Whether in our professional or personal lives, we know that most of the time, we pay for the things we value. The same is true for project or organization budgets, which should reflect accommodation, accessibility, and access needs. Sign language interpreting, accessible seating, captioning, CART (communication access real-time translation), and other services require additional resources and should be discussed in budget allocations. It can also be helpful to include accessibility items as a required component of a budget template.

3. Do you have disability representation within your staff and Board of Directors?

Representation matters. Having people with lived experience of disability within the decision-making positions of an organization is an important aspect to consider when evaluating an organization.

4. Are your materials 508-compliant and available in plain language formats?

In addition to asking if their materials are available in multiple languages, it is helpful to ask if their materials are 508-compliant. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act is a federal law that states all electronic information developed, procured, maintained, and used by the federal government must be accessible to people with disabilities. Although Section 508 is directed at the federal government, it also applies to any organizations that receive federal funding. Inquiring about 508 compliance can help gauge how formalized an organization’s approach to ensuring electronic accessibility is. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) by the World Wide Web Consortium are available to non-government organizations. It is also important for materials to be linguistically and cognitively accessible to people with disabilities. Inquiring if an organization’s materials are written in plain-language (written at a fourth-grade reading level) can help gauge if they are being intentional in developing materials that can be understood by all.  

5. Do you incorporate a Disability Justice framework in your work?

Disability Justice is a framework that examines disability and its relation to other forms of identity and oppression. Disability Justice is centered on the experiences and needs of people of color with disabilities. It is important to ask an organization how they are intentional in working with and serving people of color with disabilities. 

6. Ask each of the questions above to ourselves.

As funders, we know that the questions we raise can influence what an organization does and what they prioritize. By raising these questions, we can help advance disability inclusion within the nonprofit sector and society as a whole. It is important that we ask these questions not only of our potential and current grantees, but that we also ask ourselves. Depending on which survey you consult, only between 1% and 3% of people working in philanthropy identify as having a disability(ities). We need to continue to advance and support disability inclusion in philanthropy itself.

If you would like more information and tools on supporting disability inclusion in philanthropy, please visit the Disability & Philanthropy Forum at The Forum is a resource made available through the Presidents’ Council on Disability Inclusion in Philanthropy, which is co-chaired by Ford Foundation and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. For lean funders, please also consider joining Exponent Philanthropy’s Disability Funders Peer Circle. To learn more about the Peer Circle, please email Ryan Easterly at [email protected]. The Peer Circle is co-chaired by WITH Foundation and Ability Central Philanthropy.



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SCG Community: Emerging Equity Practices in Coronavirus Responses

Friday, April 10, 2020
The Coronavirus outbreak has disproportionately impacted and devastated communities that are already grappling with long-standing legacies of racial injustice and economic disenfranchisement. As we continue to track the long-term implications of this virus, it is imperative to account for how our most vulnerable organizations and communities will recover from the unprecedented damage caused by this global pandemic.  
After several weeks of convening members and community partners to learn about their rapid-response efforts, we would like to elevate several strategies that center equity as a foundational value of funders' current work. As a sector, we must explicitly acknowledge why certain populations are hurt more than others by this virus and fortify our commitment to racial equity in order to create a world where everyone has resources and opportunities for recovery. 
Following up on last week’s SCG Emerging Trends in COVID-19 Responses, this blog offers a high-level snapshot of how SCG's members have adapted to supporting our hardest-hit organizations that predominantly serve people of color and low-income communities. We do not consider this list comprehensive of all equity practices and responses and will be updating it regularly as we see more trends emerge. If you have a strategy you would like to share with us, please reach out to us directly.



Prioritizing the Hardest Hit Communities

In designing response efforts, it is imperative to utilize a racial equity framework to address the current and long-standing challenges of vulnerable communities. At the moment, low-income communities and communities of color are experiencing amplified effects of the outbreak, such as lack of available coronavirus test kits, limited access to healthcare supports, not having basic needs met because of school closures, already high mortality and morbidity rates, and many other challenges. Not only that, but the organizations that support these populations are often the first to shut down due to the magnified financial strain brought on by unprecedented emergencies. These organizations, usually led by people of color, can swiftly adapt their missions to become critical providers of essential services to communities during extraordinary moments. One way for grantmakers to practice equity is by directing resources to organizations that predominantly operate within communities of color or low-income communities, and supporting those that don’t have the same financial backing as larger institutions or are in danger of not surviving this pandemic. Funders can also apply other equity grantmaking strategies and implement a racial justice lens to their giving. 


Supporting Marginalized Populations

It is also vital to support communities who do not qualify for or are altogether excluded from federal coronavirus assistance. These groups include immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, native Americans and tribal communities, and incarcerated people. Not only do these populations already experience increased levels of racism and are at the receiving end of punitive policies, but now they are being denied access to basic support services and relief efforts. For example, various immigrants, especially undocumented individuals, are currently afraid to ask for assistance because of recent changes to the public charge rule. Additionally, SCG’s members are advocating for incarcerated communities who are asking for compassionate relief in the face of potential mass transmission in detention centers and homeless populations who have great difficulty in accessing available resources. Grantmakers can support by actively looking for populations that are frequently left out and left behind, and adjusting their funding priorities to reach these communities. 


Adapting Resources for People with Disabilities 

Adult dependents, which includes adults with disabilities that rely on care from their family members, are excluded from the federal stimulus package. Available supports are not always fully accessible to a variety of different needs. It is critical to adapt coronavirus resources to accommodate people with disabilities. Organizations can start by working to ensure that websites, emails, and documents are accessible to screen readers and other technologies, adding image descriptions to all visual social media content, and embedding captions to recorded webinars and video content. You can find an array of tools and tactics to make your communications more accessible by visiting SCG’s Resource Page from our 2019 Disability Inclusion Conference. Additionally, as organizations continue to implement and refine their remote work systems and technologies, it is critical to reflect on how historically these same accommodations had not been offered to people with disabilities who face staggering rates of unemployment. As we rebuild in the coming months, we have an opportunity to reflect on how to build a more inclusive work culture.


Denouncing Xenophobia and Racism

Implementing an equity framework requires funders to name the systemic inequities explicitly in our response efforts, or risk being seen as compliant in maintaining the status quo. Grantmakers have an opportunity to acknowledge systemic injustices in their external communications or directly in their grant applications. SCG is proud to join over 130 foundations and philanthropic organizations in signing Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy's (AAPIP) letter asking our colleagues in philanthropy to take decisive action against the racism targeting Asian Americans in the U.S. amid the COVID-19 outbreak. You can sign the letter here


Providing In-Language Resources and Funding Ethnic Media 

As you continue to create and curate coronavirus-related resources, it is recommended that these items be translated into multiple languages to reach diverse populations. SCG's members are working with the Los Angeles Department of Public Health to provide in-language guides for updates and safety recommendations. It is also crucial to support ethnic media outlets in amplifying their reach as trusted partners in various communities. Ethnic media, like many other small businesses, are facing financial hardship. In funding ethnic media, grantmakers are helping to maintain vital sources of information for vulnerable populations.


Elevating the Voices of Grantees and Communities 

In the spirit of true partnership, many grantmakers are intentionally getting input from grantees and organizations working at the front lines. Numerous SCG members are hosting frequent conversations with their grantees and partners in order to learn more about their current experiences, elevate the most pressing needs directly from the community, and plan for their unique, emerging challenges. 


Trusting Nonprofits and Supporting Their Wellbeing 

As we continue to see the rise of racial hostility in this pandemic, it is essential to monitor the wellbeing of nonprofit partners proactively. More than ever, staff members and individuals on the ground are carrying the weight of intolerance through micro-aggressions in the workplace or blatant hatred in external environments. It is necessary to be proactive in leading with equity, offering support outside of funding, and creating space for partners to feel supported. Increasingly, the principles of Trust-Based Philanthropy are being tested as philanthropy rapidly learns and applies more trust-based practices to their relationships with nonprofits


Amplifying Census Outreach in the Age of Coronavirus 

The 2020 Census has faced many challenges — the attempt to include an untested citizenship question, delays in funding, and now the untold impact of Coronavirus. It is more important than ever to reach out to hard-to-count populations and continue to support a robust movement infrastructure to improve opportunities for historically marginalized Californians. While in-person, door-to-door outreach strategies are no longer viable, philanthropy can support the 2020 Census by relaxing grant requirements, providing emergency funding for Census outreach, encouraging digital organizing, and sharing resources from other Census leads. 


Planning for the Long-Term

As funders continue rapidly responding to immediate needs, it is increasingly important to prepare for the outbreak’s peak and the potential long-term impacts on our most vulnerable communities. While community members have received temporary relief through local eviction moratoriums or delayed payments on utility bills, many individuals will likely struggle to pay the accumulated debt or meet their payment plans after the crisis. These already vulnerable communities will also face a new host of post-crisis challenges, including potential medical debts, students falling further behind because of education disruptions, staggering unemployment, and a variety of other obstacles that will prevent them from bouncing back quickly. Grantmakers have begun thinking about their funding through a staged-approach to ensure that they can allocate the right amount of resources at every stage of the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, funders must begin discussing the policy solutions that will address the multitude of systemic problems that have been exacerbated by the coronavirus outbreak. 


If you have a strategy you would like to share, please reach out to us directly. You can view our full list of SCG member responses to COVID-19 by visiting our Directory of Responses.  
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SCG Community: Emerging Trends in COVID-19 Responses

Thursday, April 2, 2020
In a few short weeks, the COVID-19 outbreak has upended nearly every aspect of our economic and social lives. The global health crisis and the economic fallout that color our current moment have dramatically altered the work of funders and nonprofits for the foreseeable future. Amid this emergency, we have been incredibly inspired by SCG’s members who have taken timely actions to strengthen and support their nonprofit partners. 
After three weeks of convening funders to learn about their rapid responses and emerging strategies, we’d like to share the key trends emerging in SCG members’ grantmaking practices in response to COVID-19. This list is not comprehensive, nor does it capture the spectrum of what’s possible, especially with the rapidly changing short and long-term needs that are emerging daily. The following trends constitute a high-level snapshot of how our members are embodying the spirit of partnership in order to support nonprofit resilience and the wellbeing of our most vulnerable communities. 



Establishing Response Funds

As the impact of COVID-19 aggravates on a daily basis, SCG members and philanthropic organizations across California — from private and community foundations to corporate and government grantmakers — have established over 70 response funds. These funds provide critical supports to businesses, community-based organizations, government agencies, and families in various communities. Funders are also coordinating by investing in regional funds and collaborating to address related issue areas.  

Increasing General Operating Support

The COVID-19 outbreak has ushered in a slew of unpredictable challenges for nonprofits who are facing increasing financial strain as they attempt to stay afloat during a pandemic. We’ve seen a wide range of funders restructure current grants to provide greater flexibility and address the varying needs of their grantees. These practices include converting all or a portion of restricted funds or project grants into general operating support, removing grant restrictions altogether, advancing scheduled grant payments, inviting grantees to request new uses of existing budgets and funds, and allowing grantees to adjust grant budgets without seeking prior approval.  

Relaxing Reporting Requirements

As grantees reprioritize their work and respond to the outbreak, funders understand that the expectations around completing grant processes and requirements need to be relaxed. In order to support grantees who are spread very thin at the moment, funders are allowing greater flexibility in grant monitoring processes, delaying or suspending reporting requirements, making changes to grant timelines and outcomes, allowing for virtual site visits, and helping grantees to extend their current grants beyond their deadline.

Considering Adding an Additional Year to Current Grants

COVID-19 is devastating the nonprofit sector which was already fragile. Given the uncertainty around the outbreak’s duration and the declining financial stability of many nonprofits, many funders are considering the possibility of extending funding of current grants to ease urgent funding concerns and allow grantees to focus on serving their communities. 


Offsetting Financial Losses from Canceled Events

The local and statewide ordinances around public gatherings have dramatically impacted nonprofits who depend on events to meet their fundraising goals or realize their missions. In an effort to help organizations who are facing significant financial losses because of COVID-19, funders are taking the following actions to ensure nonprofit resilience and stability: ensuring that grants and sponsorships for approved conferences and events remain in place (regardless whether the event occurs), inviting existing grantees to submit requests for funds to cover costs the organization has or will incur as a direct result of the pandemic.

Providing Emergency Cash Assistance

Right now, many nonprofits are working diligently to provide direct services to the communities most impacted by COVID-19. A common, urgent request is the need to get cash flowing on the ground to support our most vulnerable populations. Several funders have begun accelerating or advancing payments on a limited basis to grantees based on circumstances. Others have developed hardship grants for nonprofits to pass on to communities in need.


Matching Grants and Donations

In order to amplify the impact of existing giving, corporate funders are implementing strategies to match the donations and gifts from their staff, businesses, nonprofits, other foundations, and more. 

Centering Equity in Strategies and Practices

From supporting the immediate needs of organizers and community members on the frontline of this crisis, to ensuring an accurate Census count to denouncing xenophobia and racism, numerous SCG members are taking bold actions grounded in equity. As our diverse communities are disproportionately impacted by this global pandemic, philanthropy can play an important role in ensuring equitable access to information and resources, especially for nonprofits led by people of color and serving marginalized communities.

Listening to Nonprofit Partners and Providing Resources

Many SCG members are embodying the spirit of partnership and further build trust with nonprofit partners by asking them what they need. Besides all the best practices above, grantmakers are going above and beyond to be transparent and responsive by offering support outside of funding. The principles of Trust-Based Philanthropy are being tested and put to practice as philanthropy needs to trust nonprofits now more than ever.


Signing the Pledge

Over 500 philanthropic organizations around the country memorialized their commitment to providing grantee partners with the flexibility and grace to respond swiftly and confidently at this moment. SCG members who have already shared this commitment include the Annenberg Foundation, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Durfee Foundation, Eisner Foundation, Goldhirsh Foundation, Inland Empire Community Foundation, Liberty Hill Foundation, Panta Rhea Foundation, Satterberg Foundation, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, and more. We hope that SCG members will join the signers of the Council of Foundation’s pledge in their shared commitment to flexibility, listening, and learning. Sign the Pledge. 


If you have a strategy you’d like to share with us, please reach out to us directly. You can view our full list of SCG member responses to COVID-19 by visiting our Directory of Responses.  
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Directory of SCG Member Urgent Responses to COVID-19

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

The directory below documents SCG members' urgent and timely responses to COVID-19. SCG is shifting our focus to supporting your medium-to-long-term responses. To share your strategies with us, please contact Phuong Pham at [email protected]. For the latest philanthropic response funds, events, and resources, please visit


Based on the directory below, SCG created the Emerging Grantmaking Trends in Response to COVID-19, a list of curated strategies and actions SCG members have taken to address the impact of this global pandemic. Additionally, our Emerging Equity Practices in Coronavirus Responses tracks how our members are adapting to support our hardest-hit organizations that predominantly serve people of color and low-income communities. While these are not comprehensive lists of every possible response at this moment, they do provide a high-level snapshot of how our members are innovating and collaborating across sectors to support nonprofit resilience and the wellbeing of our most vulnerable communities. 



  • $12.5 million to support U.S. and global relief efforts to address critical needs in communities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds will be used to support emergency response efforts in Amgen's U.S. and international communities, patient-focused organizations that are mounting their own response efforts, and international relief efforts by Direct Relief and International Medical Corps. 
  • Match donations made by Amgen staff around the globe who wish to contribute their own funds to the relief efforts. 
Free online learning programs supported by the Amgen Foundation are also available to help students continue their science education during school closures
  • Developed with the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, LabXchange is a free online science education platform that provides users with access to personalized instruction, virtual lab experiences, and networking opportunities across the global scientific community.
  • Khan Academy has grown its biology offering, with the Amgen Foundation's support, to more than 300 videos, 80 exercise sets, and 195 articles.




Grantmaking Operations
  • The Foundation’s ongoing grantmaking process continues uninterrupted.
  • Conduct site visits virtually.
  • Review and approve grants with a keener eye on COVID-19 and the vexing problems around this pandemic. 
Mitigation assistance grants
  • $100,000 to Brilliant Corners, an innovative nonprofit that provides supportive housing assistance.
  • $25,000 to fully supply LA Unified School District’s “Grab and Go” meal centers with medical-grade no-touch digital thermometers.
  • Collaborate with the LA County COVID-19 Response Partners Fund to ascertain the most critical and emerging needs of our region’s vulnerable residents.
  • Make grants in the following areas: 1) first response and medical facilities to help those on the front lines of this public health crisis; 2) the homeless to help the thousands and thousands of homeless people in our community; 3) disadvantage elderly to help the elderly who need quality home care and meals; 4) artists to help those in the arts community who have been impacted by the shutdown of institutions and outlets all over; 3) others in need including veterans, low-income communities in Los Angeles, newly-unemployed people, and more.
Partnerships and outreach
  • Help launch COVID-19 LA County Partners Response Fund along with the Weingart Foundation, Hilton Foundation, The California Endowment, and others.
  • Support the United Way of Greater Los Angeles Pandemic Relief Fund, which is focused on helping residents experiencing homelessness find emergency shelters, providing materials and supplies to street medicine and outreach teams, and supporting shelter sites with harm reduction measures, food, medical supplies, and client transportation. 
Reposition the Community Grantmaking Fund to focus on:
  • COVID-19 emergency response for those on the front lines of the crisis.
  • Current grantees, who are in a position to offer immediate support.
  • Recession readiness to align with those suffering from the sudden economic downturn.




  • $250,000 to Los Angeles County’s Office of Education to help support the needs of local school districts and families in the current national health emergency.
  • $100,000 to Brilliant Corners to help the immediate needs of the homeless in Los Angeles in the wake of the coronavirus.
  • $150,000 to the California Community Foundation to support low-income and low-wage workers.




  • Commit $100 million to support local communities in need as the world faces unprecedented challenges from the coronavirus.
  • Support Khan Academy’s crisis response and helping the nonprofit drive awareness and reach more families.




Commit $6.8 million to support California hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Support 14 community foundations addressing specific needs in their communities, provide immediate flexibility for domestic violence shelters, and aid organizations in efforts to meet the needs of low-wage workers and help people get basic necessities. 
  • Support efforts to get accurate information to the most vulnerable communities, including immigrant and non-English-speaking communities.
  • $1M to help launch the California Immigrant Resilience Fund, a new statewide fund to provide direct relief to undocumented immigrants during this crisis – and to encourage lasting solutions that protect health beyond this moment. 




Launch COVID-19 LA County Response Fund to address the immediate and long-term needs of our region's most vulnerable residents.

The first round of funding includes 70 grants, totaling $1.7, focusing on the needs of youth, homeless, immigrants, uninsured and underinsured.

  • $225,000 – Education: access to food, childcare and academic supports
  • $515,000 – Homelessness: staffing and supplies for safe places to recover or be quarantined for the unhoused
  • $662,504 – Health: patient assessment, staffing and the facilitation of transfers for patients needing treatment or quarantine
  • $175,000 – Immigration: support low-wage, immigrant workers by providing them with critical information and resources to help them access food, services, and other unemployment challenges
  • $195,000 – Hardship Assistance: grants to nonprofit partners in CCF’s Pass It Along (PIA) Program to make aid available to help individuals and families address an immediate, emergency need




  • $250,000 in support of CCF's COVID-19 Response Fund, with a preference for directing funds to youth and families.
  • $25,000 to Southern California Grantmakers for expansion of the Urgent Needs Exchange Portal from Family Foundation to the broader SCG community.




  • Contribute more than $2 million to programs that provide housing, food assistance and access to healthcare for those in need during this challenging time. 
  • $850,000 in grants to support housing stability organizations, food access programs, and food banks that serve low-income, homebound seniors, people experiencing homelessness and other groups in need.
  • $125,000 to Brilliant Corners to be used in partnership with the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the homeless population.
  • $100,000 to United Way of Greater Los Angeles in support of its Pandemic Relief Fund.
  • $100,000 to the Mayor's Fund for LA for emergency food assistance to people experiencing homelessness in emergency shelters and to seniors through the city Department of Aging.
  • $250,000 to Jewish Free Loan Association to more easily provide free loans to those facing housing insecurity by supporting the development of an emergency loan guarantor fund.
  • $1 million to the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County to help community health centers serve patients safely in this challenging time. 







Support for grantees
  • Work with partners to understand where it makes sense to be flexible with current grants. 
  • Honor all existing funding commitments. 
  • Consider how new funding, as available, can provide flexibility to grantee partners during the response to this crisis.  
  • Learn from these emergency efforts and consider how we might apply these lessons to improve our practice in the future.



Grantmaking in April 2020: $10 million in additional funding toward relief efforts and support for vulnerable communities impacted by COVID-19 here in our community and abroad.
  • $2,250,000 to Brilliant Corners in support of a partnership with the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services.
  • $500,000 to California Community Foundation to immediately purchase essential supplies and cover expenses at six of LA County’s federally qualified health clinics, which have a special designation to serve clients who are unhoused.
  • $2,250,000 to United Way of Greater Los Angeles for its Pandemic Relief Fund. 




  • Maintain regular grantmaking
  • Explore establishing an emergency fund.



Response focuses
  • Provide assistance in the form of personal protective equipment, or PPE, for health workers.
  • Build an ICU medication model and mobilizing private resources to build a stockpile to assist with the anticipated spike in ICU patients.
  • Boost support to safety-net facilities to address existing chronic gaps that are likely to grow.




Support for grantees
  • Institute a COVID-19 Rapid Response Small Grants Program, through which existing grantees are eligible to submit a request for up to $10,000 for any costs the organization has incurred or expects to incur as a direct result of the pandemic.
  • Allow greater flexibility in our grant monitoring process. Grantees will be able to adjust most grant budgets without seeking prior approval, delay reporting and monitoring check-in calls, and make necessary changes to grant timelines and outcomes. 
  • Donate most funds extended for now-canceled conferences and events.





Increase grant flexibility
  • Convert any restricted funds to general operating support.
  • Suspend all reporting requirements until further notice.
Compile a list of ways intergenerational organizations are responding to program suspension


Establish the Eisner Foundation Rapid Response Fund
  • Provide Los Angeles County-serving organizations with grants to serve older adults and combat social isolation.
  • Invest in technological solutions or other logistical needs so that organizations can adapt quickly now, and have better infrastructure in place for their long-term work.
  • Allocate $500,000 toward this effort, and grants will range from $5,000-50,000 (one-year terms). 





  • $1 million to be spread equally among eight worthy recipients to ease the suffering of children during the COVID-19 epidemic.





Gather information and share resources to help partners, parents and L.A. County residents impacted by the crisis





Support grantees
  • Invite current grantees to request new uses of existing budgets and funds.
  • Create a streamlined process for grantees to extend their current grants beyond the deadline.
  • Postpone reporting requirements for all current grantees.
  • Extend the deadline for our upcoming grant applications through the My LA2050 Grants Challenge to April 3.
Compile, redistribute, and amplify resources





  • Award 138 grants, totaling $13.4 million, to support the establishment and expansion of telehealth and telephonic services for California providers serving Medi-Cal members. 





Increase grant flexibility
  • Grantees are invited to reach out to program officers to discuss special concerns or needs as a result of the current health issues, including additional strains on budgets that require flexibility or assistance.
Response fund for grantees
  • Offer a rapid response fund for current Foundation grantees to offset unexpected costs incurred for disruptions to operations as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. More information about the eligibility criteria and application process can be found here. The fund will stay open until July 1, 2020, or until resources are expended — whichever comes first.




  • Donate an additional $100,000 in April to nonprofits in the Feeding America and Share Our Strength / No Kid Hungry networks to provide 1,000,000 meals ($1 = 10 meals) to families, children, and seniors facing food insecurity as a result of the current pandemic.
Launch a DFF Pandemic Matching Gift Fund
  • Match employee donations dollar-for-dollar to any nonprofit providing pandemic relief.




Establish COVID-19 Resilience Fund
  • Grants will be made to organizations in each county assisting those impacted by job loss or facing homelessness because of COVID-19.
Inland Empire COVID-19 Nonprofit Survey of Needs and Best Practices
  • Ask E nonprofit leaders to fill out a survey. This information will inform requests for funding, grantmaking, and technical assistance (TA) responses in the weeks and months ahead.




Support grantees
  • Relax and/or renegotiate restrictions on current grants, so that grantees don’t have to worry about previous expectations for activities they have had to cancel or postpone.
  • Reduce restrictions on the use of funds with new grants, wherever possible (something we have increasingly done since 2016)
  • Postpone or eliminate other requests of grantees, such as site visits and reports on their progress
  • Continue listening efforts with grantees and those they serve, so we can be better partners now and into the future
Commit $22 million to bolster the immediate and long-term sustainability of nonprofits on the front lines of the crisis
  • Invest $20 million in Irvine grantees who are critical to California's efforts to protect and advance low-wage workers. This Recession Resilience Project will provide immediate emergency funding to core grantees in our Better Careers, Fair Work, and Priority Regions initiatives; technical assistance for financial planning and recovery; and longer-term strategic recession-response grants for these grantees. 
  • Provide approximately $2 million in additional funds to help other grassroots organizations in California to weather this crisis.




  • More than $7 million in accelerated grant payments to current grantees to increase cash flow and invite some grantees to request alternative use of funds during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • More than $6 million in grant & targeted funding to support our most vulnerable members and community members, including individuals experiencing homelessness.

    • Grants for safety net clinics through its flagship Robert E. Tranquada, MD Safety Net XI initiative to improve access and quality care for multiple hardly reached populations

    • Homelessness prevention through a second Housing Stability initiative providing legal assistance to high-need, community members facing eviction

    • Up to 75 recuperative care beds for those without access to safe spaces following COVID hospitalization.

    • Basic needs (e.g., tents, hygiene kits, etc.) for up to 1,000 individuals experiencing homelessness who remain on the streets to support social distancing and to stay in touch with their street-based care providers





Grantees and Grantmaking Operations
  • Continue to accept grant requests on a rolling basis.
  • Honor all existing funding commitments and process payments on schedule.
  • Conduct site visits virtually.
  • Make accommodations for grant term extensions, repurposing of funds, changes in reporting, and monitoring schedules.
LA84 Rapid Response Fund
  • Establish a small grants fund for active and former grantees in order to respond to their immediate needs related to COVID-19. The initial allocation of funding totals $225,000.





Launch COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund for Community Organizing
  • Support the immediate needs of organizers and community members on the frontlines of this crisis.
Accelerate award of $2.3M in general operating grants to community organizers and advocates
  •  Eliminate the written proposal process for both the Fund for Change and the Our Kids, Our Future Fund
Convene organizers and activists
  • Host a Virtual Organizing Town Hall, bringing together over 100 organizers and activists across Los Angeles County. Participants shared emergency calls to action, digital resources, and mutual aid tools with one another. 
  • Host a Facebook Live event, providing supporters with an opportunity to hear directly from housing activists about frontline needs. 





Support grantees
  • increase grant flexibility and continue to closely monitor the philanthropic environment.
  • Extend our application deadline to May 1. Nonprofits can learn more about applying here.
  • Suspend all reporting requirements through May 1. 





Under Project Roomkey, LAHSA and other partners are booking hotel & motel rooms as massive prevention effort so highly vulnerable people experiencing homelessness can also be “safer at home.”
  • Secure 15,000 hotel and motel rooms that will operate as temporary shelters as a prevention measure for highly vulnerable seniors and those suffering from chronic illness. 
  • Los Angeles County, LAHSA, and the City of Los Angeles have collectively allocated $39.3 million in state emergency homeless funding for Project Roomkey.
  • The sites are geographically dispersed throughout the County, in communities including West L.A., San Fernando Valley, and Antelope Valley. The locations are not being publicly identified because they are not walk-up sites. Guests must be referred by homeless service providers based on eligibility criteria established by the state and federal government.





Launch L.A. Emergency COVID-19 Crisis Fund
  • Priority areas for COVID-19 Response and Relief Funds include support for families and small businesses, relief for healthcare workers, equipment for health response, services for our unhoused neighbors, powering real-time research.





LA County Employer Assistance Grant Fund
  • REDF partnered with the County of Los Angeles Workforce Development, Aging, & Community Services (WDACS) to distribute $500K in grants to 59 social enterprises and small businesses across the county. 
  • Award 15 COVID-19 Relief Grants to social enterprise partners across nine states. These general operating grants of $30,000 will provide immediate financial support paired with advisory services from REDF. This support will enable the social enterprises to plan, pivot, and keep their employees working, earning, and safe.





  • Release grant funding to support the immediate needs of Los Angeles nonprofits in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Funding included emergency response grants to a cohort of nonprofits working across several urgent priority areas such as food, health, and logistics in Los Angeles County.
  • Advance 2020 grant payments for more than 60 current grantees, un-restricted most current program-related and purpose-restricted grants, and waived 2020 reporting requirements for the majority of our grantees.
  • Continue to accept and review new applications. 




  • Evaluate how to best direct emergency funds.
  • Asses adjustments to processes and evaluation.




Launch "SoCalGas CAREs" Campaign to Bring Awareness to CARE Assistance Program for Customers Facing Financial Hardship due to COVID-19
  • Bring awareness to CARE assistance program for customers facing financial hardship due to COVID-19.
  • Aim to let customers know of their eligibility to qualify for SoCalGas' assistance program, California Alternate Rates for Energy or CARE, saving them 20 percent on their monthly natural gas bills.
  • Assistance program includes gas assistance fund and medical baseline allowance.
  • Donate $1 million to support organizations that serve communities experiencing hardship due to coronavirus.





Contribute more than $3M to help address needs related to COVID-19 and its economic aftermath
Support grantees
  • Expressly honor existing commitments with community partners so they don’t experience additional hardship during this challenging period.





Increase grant flexibility
  • Relax grant restrictions.
  • Advance a scheduled grant payment.
$5 million COVID-19 response plan
  • Support public health efforts and the immediate social and health services needs of highly vulnerable Californians, including farmworkers/day laborers, the homeless, and undocumented individuals.
  • Support regional community partner foundations that will deploy the resources to local nonprofit organizations that provide essential social and health services to vulnerable Californians and to statewide networks and associations focused on health care delivery and public health systems.
  • Target those most likely to be severely impacted by COVID-19 due to lack of awareness, language barriers, and lack of access to health care, including the homeless, low-wage earners such as farmworkers and day laborers, and undocumented Californians.





Respond to community needs
  • Ask community partners what’s needed and then moving resources to organizations mobilizing efforts across the state. 
Grantmaking commitment: $4 million to combat the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Support the most vulnerable communities and people in our state: frontline health workers, economically disadvantaged people, immigrants, seniors, and Asian Americans experiencing race-based harassment and assaults, among others.
  • Support some current grantee partners who are experiencing significant disruptions to their work.
  • Support community clinics and the associations that advocate for them.
Addressing urgent needs through immediate response grants
  • Grants to community foundations and United Ways
  • Grants to organizations providing essential services and advocacy
  • $730,000 in core support grants to select small- and mid-size grantees
Changing grantmaking systems to support current grantees
  • Extend grant periods to allow grantees more time to meet their grant objectives.
  • Make funding even more flexible by removing restrictions when needed.
  • Put a moratorium on all grant reports.
  • Ensure that grants that have been approved for upcoming conferences and events remain in place, whether the event ultimately occurs or not.





Giving opportunities
  • Continue to provide giving opportunities as well as advice on how philanthropy can help support our most vulnerable neighbors.





Uninterrupted grantmaking operations
  • Conduct site visits virtually.
  • Continue to accept LOIs on a rolling basis through an online portal.
  • Process grant payments in a timely manner.
Flexibility for grantees
  • Open to modify existing funding, including converting all or a portion into general operating support.
  • Suspend all reporting requirements due through the end of the year.
  • Accelerate payments on a limited basis for multi-year funding based on individual circumstances.  





Create a Pandemic Relief Fund
  • Support L.A. County’s unsheltered residents who are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus, and low-income individuals, students and families at imminent risk of homelessness and hardships due to health and economic impacts of coronavirus.





Support grantees
  • Re-categorize current open project grants to general operating support and loosen reporting requirements. 
  • $25,000 contribution to the Inland Empire Funders Alliance Rapid Response Fund, administered by the Inland Empire Community Foundation. 


Commit $1 million in emergency response funding to the COVID-10 pandemic
  • To be distributed through pooled funds, primarily in collaboration with our philanthropic partners throughout Southern California.





Create Ventura County Rapid Response Fund
  • Support those organizations providing basic human needs to individuals, families, and small businesses in Ventura County.





Increase grant flexibility
  • Unrestricted operating support from the Weingart Foundation is completely unrestricted and can be used to help nonprofits adapt and adjust during this time.
  • For project-based grants, conversations are welcomed should grantees need to adjust grant goals, deliverables, or timelines. 
  • On a more limited basis, the Foundation can also consider requests to augment or accelerate approved grant payments, based on your individual circumstances.
Supporting Communities
  • The Weingart Foundation is working with key public agencies, colleague funders, and nonprofits to develop a swift and collaborative response to support communities, especially in low-income areas and among people who are homeless. More information to be available.




Donate $6.25 Million to Aid in Coronavirus Response
  • Support domestic and global response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and to aid public health relief efforts.
  • $1 million for the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Emergency Relief Fund.
  • 250,000 to the International Medical Corps for their work in more than 30 countries. 
  • Donate up to $5 million at the local level to help address community-specific needs in the coming months.





Provide immediate additional funding 
  • Immediately augmented existing general support grants to our core partners to help offset the immediate impacts of the COVID19 pandemic to organizations. 
  • See additional flexible funding as the best way to support partners who are on the frontline, supporting some of our most vulnerable communities.
  • Similar to our other grants, these dollars are provided as General Operating Support so organizations can be responsive to their communities and their staff. 
Launch Relief and Resilience Fund
  • Resource organizations on the frontlines in the immediate and long term.
  • Offset impact fundraising and revenue of many of our partner organizations. 




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COVID-19 Weekly Update: March 19, 2020

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Dear SCG Community, 

As we continue to face the unprecedented realities of the COVID-19 outbreak, we hope you and your loved ones are staying well. In the last couple of days, Southern California Grantmakers has brought together our communities to share knowledge, coordinate resources, and support our most vulnerable communities. During this crisis, SCG's emergency mission is to mobilize philanthropy to respond rapidly, effectively, and equitably to the COVID-19 pandemic, by fostering inclusive collaboration, learning, and bold actions. 

In the coming weeks, SCG will continue to be a critical partner to philanthropy by virtually convening funders across the state for timely programs, tracking the latest emergency funds, staying connected with government agencies, and elevating the needs of our local nonprofits and communities. To provide you with the most up-to-date information, we will temporarily suspend our monthly Corporate Brief and Public Policy Roundup, and transition my platform on the SCG President's Message to a weekly COVID-19 newsletter. 

This past week, SCG created online gatherings for over 800 funders to exchange ideas. You will find below key takeaways and actions from our webinars and first weekly funders' briefing call.

Additionally, we invite our members to join the SCG EXCHANGE for Urgent-Need Grants online portal, which was designed by our family foundation members to share time-sensitive funding opportunities in their communities.

Lastly, we have been inspired by your timely actions to strengthen communities. In this week's updates, read about SCG members who are building flexibility and resilience into their grantmaking, in addition to a new set of COVID-19 response funds. 

In solidarity with you during these trying times,

Christine Essel
President & CEO, Southern California Grantmakers  


How Philanthropy Can Support Local Solutions During School Closures

 Grantmakers for Education, the Los Angeles County Office of Education, and Southern California Grantmakers hosted a webinar to discuss the needs of Los Angeles students during this crisis, ways for philanthropy to support, and opportunities for government coordination. Watch the recorded webinar below or review our high-level notes. 


Southern California Funders Weekly Briefing on COVID-19 (March 19) 

SCG began hosting weekly funder briefings in an effort to support the critical work of our members and ensure coordination regarding community needs and collaboration opportunities across our region. This week, we heard from The California Endowment, St. Joseph Health Community Partnership Fund, Center for Strategic Partnerships, and United Way of Greater Los Angeles to share their rapid response efforts.


How Philanthropy Can Support and Enhance the Government Response to COVID-19

Last week, Philanthropy California hosted a webinar to clarify how the government has organized its response to COVID-19 and how philanthropy can support and augment leadership on all levels while emphasizing community resiliency and support for our most vulnerable community members. View the webinar below or read our high-level notes. 


Kathleen Kelly Janus—Senior Advisor on Social Innovation to Governor Gavin Newsom and one of our webinar speakers—followed her presentation with "COVID19: What Philanthropy Can Do," which provides numerous ways for philanthropy to support community needs, innovation, and interventions alongside the statewide response. 




The SCG EXCHANGE for Urgent-Need Grants is an online space for SCG members to share urgent-need funding opportunities—such as emergency funding, matching grants, or other time-sensitive situations—with each other. SCG members may post time-sensitive funding needs for vetted nonprofits or on behalf of other external organizations that neither you nor your organization will directly benefit from. Click below to learn more or join the Exchange. 



Along with our members and philanthropic colleagues, SCG has been thinking about how COVID-19 will impact our sector in the long and short terms, and how to bolster nonprofit resilience. The following examples highlight a few foundations in the SCG network and beyond who have reached out to their community partners during this crisis to support capacity building, offer more flexibilities, and embody a spirit of partnership between funders and grantees. Have you sent out similar messages? We would love to help amplify your strategies. 


Rapid Response Funds for Nonprofit Operations

In addition to the public health crisis brought on by COVID-19, the outbreak has also caused a considerable economic strain on our communities and partners. To address the financial strain felt by nonprofit, the Heising-Simons Foundation set up a rapid response fund to offset the costs incurred for disruptions to operations as a result of the outbreak. Similarly, the Women's Foundation of California established the Community Power Fund to help current grantees maintain their operations and adapt to the health and financial impacts caused by COVID-19.

Flexible Grants and Timelines

To help organizations respond to the needs of their staff members and communities, Weingart Foundation continues to provide Unrestricted Operating Support to nonprofits, adjusts project-based grant timelines, and can increase or accelerate approved grant payments. The Eisner Foundation is converting any restricted funds to general operating support, in addition to suspending all reporting requirements until further notice. The California Endowment's grantees can benefit from relaxed grant restrictions or advancing a scheduled grant payment. The Robert Sterling Clark Foundation added one additional year of funding to every grant to ease some funding concerns and allow nonprofits to focus on serving their communities.

Trust-Based Philanthropy

Philanthropy needs to trust nonprofits now more than ever. Join Philanthropy California and the Trust-Based Philanthropy Project for the first of a six-webinar series to learn how a trust-based approach can be particularly effective in supporting nonprofit partners in concrete, meaningful ways. 



The following SCG members have launched funds in response to the COVID-19 outbreak:

The California Community Foundation
Inland Empire Community Foundation
Latino Community Foundation
Mayor's Fund for Los Angeles
Santa Barbara Foundation
The Fund 
Ventura County Community Foundation
United Way of Greater Los Angeles
Our team vetted various national, statewide, and regional response funds to help you direct resources to the most vulnerable communities. Please click below to see the full list, which is updated on a daily basis. We hope that it will help you stay informed and support families, businesses, community-based organizations, and others during this crisis.




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SCG President's Message - February 2020

Friday, February 28, 2020


We are just days away from California’s Primary Presidential Election and the possibilities for our state are tremendous. In this critical inflection point in history, the go-it-alone strategies of the past simply cannot meet the obstacles before us. More than ever before, we need to partner with government in order to maintain the speed of progress. 

I am proud to spotlight the ways in which philanthropic leaders have begun to navigate the complexities of government, advocacy, and civic engagement. Over the past several weeks, SCG members have attended a historic philanthropy summit at the Governor's Mansion, engaged in a deep dive of the Governor's proposed budget for 2020-21, supported a nonpartisan candidates forum for the Los Angeles County Second District, and taken many other steps to broaden philanthropy's role in changing systems and strengthening our communities.

Additionally, our staff at SCG carried the spirit of the National Day of Racial Healing into Black History Month by watching the four-part docuseries, “400 Years Later… ’free-ish,” which explores the 400-year commemoration of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in Virginia in late August 1619. As we watched the journey of fifteen HBCU students in their efforts to learn our history and promote reconciliation, I was reminded of the power of storytelling in racial healing and would like to share some resources to spark more healing conversations below.

What lies ahead of our collaboration will not always be the easiest path, but I am confident that we can innovate, heal, and move forward collectively. As we prepare to cast our votes, I invite us to continue thinking big, taking risks, and imagining how we can propel California toward a future that is equitable for everyone. 

Christine Essel
President & CEO, Southern California Grantmakers     



A Conversation on Advocacy and Systems Change with Alba Bautista from First 5 LA

In March, the SCG Public Policy team will once again attend Foundations on the Hill with funders representing Philanthropy California. As our delegation prepares for meetings with Members of Congress, we spoke to Alba Bautista, Manager of Strategic Partnerships at First 5 LA, and three times FOTH attendee. In this conversation, we tackle the role of civic engagement in philanthropy, First 5 LA’s ongoing system change efforts, and some tips for first time FOTH attendees. 


Key Learnings from the Los Angeles County Second District Supervisorial Forum

In partnership with The Chronicle of Social Change and United Way of Greater Los Angeles, SCG hosted a nonpartisan forum for candidates running for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors’ Second District. Read our key learnings from our event. 



Update on the UBIT Tax Repeal and the Simplified Private Foundation Excise Tax

Last December, the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 (H.R. 1865) was signed into law, ushering in two victories for private foundations and the nonprofit sector: a simplification of the private foundation excise tax rate from a two-tier system to a flat rate and a retroactive repeal of the UBIT tax on nonprofit transportation benefits. 



A Historic Summit at the Governor’s Mansion

Last month, Governor Gavin Newsom welcomed over 45 philanthropic leaders to the Governor’s Mansion for the first Philanthropy Summit in modern state history. Philanthropy California played an instrumental role in shaping the day, which brought together the Governor's senior leadership and philanthropic leaders to have candid conversations about tackling the biggest challenges ahead for California.



Breaking Down the Governor's 2020-21 State Budget

On January 10, Governor Gavin Newsom submitted his 2020-21 State Budget proposal to the Legislature. Seyron Foo, SCG’s Vice President of Public Policy and Government Relations, met with SCG's Corporate Leadership Council to break down the budget proposals most likely to impact the philanthropic sector.



SCG's 2020 Public Policy Forecast

This year, SCG is committed to tracking the policy trends most likely to impact our members' grantmaking strategies and their ability to fulfill their missions. Our Public Policy and Government Affairs team has identified three trends likely to impact the philanthropic sector in 2020: more proposed state regulations on philanthropy, increasing pressures on vulnerable communities, and a focus on housing policy at the ballot box.


Interested in keeping up-to-date with the latest public policy news, updates, and trends? Visit the SCG Takes Action page to explore our Public Policy Team's latest legislative breakdowns, issue analyses, and policy stances. 




How Philanthropy Can Create Public Systems Change

This story from the Stanford Social Innovation Review explores a program designed to increase access to public higher education for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated Californians in order to highlight the potential of public and philanthropic partnerships. 



National Day of Racial Healing Action Kit for Philanthropic Organizations

Last month, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation hosted the National Day of Racial Healing, a day dedicated to sharing truth, deepening relationships, and building trust to create a more equitable future. Below, you'll find the W.K. Kelogg Foundation's Philanthropy Action Kit for organizations interested in sparking and furthering racial healing conversations among their communities. 


These Modern-Day Harriet Tubmans Are Leading People to Freedom

The California Wellness Foundation's Women's Initiatives are supporting the work of organizations that have committed their lives to the fight for justice and freedom. Program Director, Crystal D. Crawford, celebrates three fearless, relentless, and visionary leaders carrying on the legacy of Harriet Tubman through their efforts to create paths to health, wellness, and freedom for Californians.




MAR 09-11 | Attend 2020 Foundations on the Hill

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



MAY 05-08 | Apply to the 2020 Funders Policy Institute

The Funders Policy Institute is an immersive program where participants directly engage with and learn from policymakers and advocates while also connecting with other philanthropists who share a deep committed to effective, policy-based grantmaking. To join, apply by March 6, 2020. 



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A Conversation on Advocacy and Systems Change with Alba Bautista from First 5 LA

Friday, February 28, 2020

On March 9-11, 2020, a delegation of Philanthropy California members will attend 2020 Foundations on the Hill, an annual event that brings together hundreds of foundation leaders from across the country to meet with legislators in Washington, DC, to discuss issues of critical importance to philanthropy and the communities we serve. This year, our Public Policy team has confirmed meetings with Rep. Adam Schiff, Rep. Karen Bass, Rep. Jimmy Gomez, Rep. Harley Rouda, and other Members of Congress. These meetings are essential for lawmakers to understand the role of philanthropy, and for SCG members to share their knowledge and expertise on issues we collectively invest in. 

We spoke to Alba Bautista, Manager of Strategic Partnerships at First 5 LA, and three times FOTH attendee. At First 5 LA, Alba focuses on building new partnerships with the philanthropic sector across our health, early education, and community-based strategic priorities. In this conversation, we tackle the role of civic engagement in philanthropy, First 5 LA’s system change efforts, and some tips for first time FOTH attendees. 

What is First 5 LA’s policy and agenda and what role does civic engagement play in these efforts?

Our North Star is that all children in Los Angeles County will enter kindergarten ready to succeed in school and life by 2028. To achieve this mission, we aim to support systems by providing improved and coordinated services for young children and families. We believe our best contribution to children and families is through policy change, practice change, and public will-building. Civic engagement plays a role in policy change to change rules governing institutions, practices, and resource allocation.


Can you share an example of how First 5 LA is working toward systems change? 

A successful example that is still in progress is our food security strategy. First 5 LA has been focused on access to affordable, healthy food, and the broader government programs that promote food security. LA County has one of the lowest CalFresh (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) participation rates in the country – less than 70% of eligible households participate leaving over $1.2 billion in federal funding on the table and thousands of families without access to the food they need. The Department of Public Social Services (DPSS), who manages the CalFresh program, has embarked on numerous efforts to close this gap, but participation remains low.
To address the food access gap, First 5 LA partnered with DPSS to engage communities and collect data on people’s experiences with food insecurity. Working with the Los Angeles Food Policy Council with the goal of improving DPSS’s outreach strategy and processes, Fresh Ideas for CalFresh focus groups are being held in each Supervisorial District to learn directly from parents about their barriers to accessing CalFresh. Information and data collected from these focus groups will be aggregated and summarized in a report due out in June, outlining recommendations for improving the CalFresh delivery system and inform investment strategies for the future.

What are the biggest challenges and opportunities for philanthropic leaders to increase their impact on democracy and civic life?

There are many challenges and opportunities, but to start, it is to develop a shared understanding of what we mean by civic engagement in a county as large, racially and linguistically diverse as Los Angeles. For example, civic engagement can be the strategy we employ to ensure all residents complete the upcoming 2020 Census and the process by which increased engagement is achieved, including facilitating the spaces and infrastructure to promote civic engagement.  
Best Start is First 5 LA’s primary investment for engaging communities in a common vision and intention for children and families to thrive, working to strengthen community leadership and collaboration across sectors. Best Start includes 14 geographic areas that have faced historic disenfranchisement. We are developing approaches for building the capacity of parents, nonprofits, built environment advocates, and other stakeholders to help catalyze community-level change that supports the health and wellbeing of young children and their families.

What attracted you to FOTH? What did you appreciate the most about this opportunity? 

FOTH presents an opportunity to join our advocacy efforts with our philanthropic partners and diversify the voices that champion early childhood issues. I appreciate the opportunity to build relationships with policymakers and the platform that FOTH provides to elevate the issues and policies that are important in our communities, particularly those of young children. I learned that one does not need a public policy background to be an advocate. Sharing our stories and experiences working in Los Angeles County play a role in educating policymakers and building their will to prioritize young children’s issues and potentially spark partnership in the future. Funders are a resource to the public sector and we should not shy away from showing up as advocates to affect change.  


Do you have any advice for first-time FOTH attendees?

It can feel overwhelming to attend your first advocacy trip. You are going from meeting to meeting and there is a lot of information shared during the trip, but you’ll have the materials and guidance you need to tell your story. SCG and Philanthropy California colleagues are a great resource and partner at FOTH. 


If you are interested in attending FOTH next month, visit our FOTH page to learn more about registration. 


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Key Learnings from the Los Angeles County Second District Supervisorial Forum

Thursday, February 27, 2020

A candidate event is a powerful tool to engage our community around an upcoming election, to deep dive into the issues that matter most, and to learn more about candidates. On January 31, Southern California Grantmakers, in partnership with The Chronicle of Social Change and United Way of Greater Los Angeles, hosted a nonpartisan forum for candidates running for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors’ Second District.  

Four candidates participated in the forum— Koreatown lawyer Jake Jeong, former LA City Councilmember Jan Perry, State Senator Holly Mitchell, and LA City Councilmember Herb Wesson — and shared their visions for building a bolder and more equitable future for the district. Over 200 residents, activists, community organizations, and philanthropic leaders from the district attended the event to hear the candidates tackle issues such as housing & homelessness, child welfare, and youth justice reform. For an in-depth overview of each candidate’s positions on these issues, visit The Chronicle for Social Change’s recap of the forum. 

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors serves as the county’s executive and legislative governing body, guiding and directing county agencies, services, and departments for the region’s 10 million residents. The next Second District Supervisor will follow the current Supervisor, Mark Ridley-Thomas, and will serve approximately 2 million Angelenos spanning from South Los Angeles, Culver City, Inglewood, Carson, to Koreatown over the course of a four-year term.  

Here are five key takeaways from the event: 

  1. Ask the Candidates Thoughtful Questions: Before the forum, we brainstormed the issues we believed would be most important for the community before the election. We then sent each candidate a questionnaire where they shared their positions on these issues in addition to their other qualifications in order to develop a more tailored set of questions. 
  2. Reach Out to Community Partners: We partnered extensively with United Way of Greater Los Angeles and their organizing team to recruit nonprofit partners that had deep roots and extensive relationships in the Second District residents. Our partners helped us build awareness around the event and as well as secure investment from community residents. 
  3. Utilize Community Voices to Structure the Event: It was vital for us to ensure that we had a diverse pool of community voices to help structure the debate. Before the forum, we gathered questions from the public via an online submission process and then used the responses to shape the content and structure of the forum. We then asked our nonprofit community partners to go on stage and ask the candidates the community’s questions. 
  4. Create Eligibility Requirements for Candidates: From the initial planning stages, we were aware that in order to facilitate a fruitful conversation, we would not be able to host every running candidate at our forum. In order to narrow our candidate list, we extended an invitation only to candidates who had completed campaign forms and reported donations. Through this, we were able to focus more attention on the most pressing issues for the residents of the Second District. 
  5. Establish Clear Parameters for a Robust Conversation: By maintaining constant communication and establishing clear expectations for the candidates, we were able to host an event focused on issues and communities and avoided tangents and partisan debates. 


SCG is proud to have co-hosted this forum that provided an opportunity for residents and community leaders in the Second District to engage in the democratic process and learn more about the candidates. In 2020, SCG will continue to support efforts to promote voter education and civic engagement in local, state-wide, and national elections. 

On March 3, 2020, California voters will vote for the candidate who they believe will serve their communities best. The top two candidates will advance to the general election in November. 

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