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President's Blog

SCG President's Message - June 2018

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Dear Colleagues,

As we move into June, I want to recognize that this month is LGBTQ+ Pride Month. Please join me in honoring the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan, which many consider the tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States, and recognizing the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals have had on history locally, nationally and internationally.

Civic engagement is so important – and today (Tuesday, June 5th) is an opportunity for all of us to get out there and vote in California’s statewide primary election! I hope all of us will be wearing our “I Voted” stickers by the end of the day.

Today SCG is also proudly hosting our annual Family Philanthropy Conference, entitled Pathways to Impact. At the conference, a record number of participants will examine how we as grantmakers can look at innovative pathways and maximize our resources to really make a difference.



This year, we are joined by two outstanding keynote speakers who are leaders in this sector: Aaron Dorfman, President and CEO of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) and Farhad Ebrahimi, Founder and President of the Chorus Foundation.

Aaron Dorfman                                                            Farhad Ebrahimi
  Aaron Dorfman                                                                 Farhad Ebrahimi
                         President and CEO                                                          Founder and President                      
                             NCRP                                                                         Chorus Foundation                  

I want to take a moment to recognize SCG’s commitment to family philanthropy. SCG has a deep-rooted interest in family philanthropy that began early in our organization’s formation―three of our four founding members were family foundations―so family philanthropy is very much in our DNA.

SCG is very lucky to have a vibrant community of family philanthropists in our membership. We will continue to support them through our existing signature programs, including our Family Foundation Information Exchange (FFIX) groups, multiple family-related programs throughout the year such as today’s conference and the Traditions of Giving event in the fall, and through our partnership with the National Center for Family Philanthropy (NCFP), by which we provide our members access to NCFP’s online resources and monthly webinars. And we are planning to introduce a number of new family philanthropy-related benefits, including a forthcoming quarterly newsletter and a revamped online portal that will enhance the community even more.

Thank you for allowing me a moment to celebrate our long and rich history of working together with family philanthropies. We at SCG are grateful to have you as members―especially those of you who have been with us for so many years now. And we look forward to continuing to work with you to build and evolve together.


Jump To:

Philanthropy in Sacramento Day

Early Bird Registration Now Open for
SCG's 2018 Annual Conference!

Applications Open for SCG’s 2018-2019 Emerging
Leaders Peer-to-Peer Network

Program Roundup

Coming Up

SCG Staff News

Philanthropy in Sacramento Day


Delegation to Sacramento


On May 22, Philanthropy California, our alliance with Northern California and San Diego Grantmakers, convened over 20 funders from across the state for our annual Philanthropy in Sacramento Day. This was a special event bringing together our state’s elected officials with leaders of our sector. It was our opportunity to share the work of philanthropy so that our state’s policymakers could take the best practices developed from our members’ grantmaking and scale them up to improve the lives of millions of Californians.

This year, our group focused heavily on educating policymakers about the 2020 Census, particularly the unique challenges that will require additional resources to help ensure the participation of hard-to-count populations. Our visits were well-timed, as the Legislature worked to iron out differences between Senate and Assembly versions of the budget; and although the budget is not yet final, I am pleased to report that the Assembly Committee on Budget is proposing an additional $113 million for the 2020 Census, including $95 million for Community Based Organization (CBO) outreach, $12 million for Los Angeles County and $6 million for Santa Clara County.

Southern California Grantmakers’ delegation included Alba Bautista from First 5 Los Angeles, Chelsea Mason from the Eisner Foundation, Stephanie Green from the Women’s Foundation of California and Tara Westman from The California Endowment.


Early Bird Registration Now Open for SCG's 2018 Annual Conference!


Annual Conference Logo

We are greatly looking forward to this year's Annual Conference, which will take place on Monday, September 17 at the InterContinental Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. The theme of the conference is Our Common Humanity and we’ll engage in a dialogue about what brings us together in a divided world.

#SCGAnnualCon18 already features a number of exciting speakers, including our keynote speaker, john a. powell, the Director of the Haas Institute for a Fair & Inclusive Society and the Robert D. Haas Chancellor’s Chair in Equity and Inclusion Professor of Law, African American and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

Join over 600 colleagues from our diverse philanthropic community of private, public, family, individual and corporate change-makers for this dynamic and inspiring day.

Register by August 25 to take advantage of our early bird rate! Or become a sponsor for complimentary tickets and other benefits!


Applications Open for SCG’s 2018-2019 Emerging Leaders Peer-to-Peer Network


Applications are now open for SCG's 2018-2019 Emerging Leaders Peer-to-Peer network, our highly regarded peer-learning professional development coaching program for select emerging and mid-level career leaders from SCG member organizations. Successful applicants selected for the program will have the opportunity to engage closely with philanthropic colleagues to discuss and reflect on topics related to leadership development, organizational dynamics, collaborative philanthropic impact, philanthropy trends and each member’s professional and personal goals.

Similar to our longtime Senior Peer-to-Peer program, this peer learning group will utilize a coaching model that will enable members to create and implement a personal development plan, as well as to expand networks and alliances for professional growth.

The deadline to submit the application is June 15. Learn more and apply.


Program Roundup


Attendees in front of a muralAttendee in front of a mural
Attendees at The People's HomeAttendees at The People's Home

  • Last month, Philanthropy California and the Nonprofit Finance Fund led a session on “Learning from and Applying a Full Cost Approach” at the Grantmakers for Effective Organizations’ Conference. Nearly 70 participants learned about the Full Cost Project, which understands that funding is changing funding practices for nonprofits that diminish their effectiveness and vitality. We shared tools for applying the full cost approach to grantmaking in order to better support and strengthen nonprofits. 
  • SCG partnered with the United State of Women (USOW) for its 2018 Summit, a powerful gathering of women and allies from across the country who know their energy and power will break the barriers that stand between women and full equality. In fact, SCG Director of Programs and Conferences Tuly Martinez and several SCG members were on the planning committee for the summit, which featured a conversation with Former First Lady Michelle Obama. Congratulations to USOW on a great summit!

Michelle Obama and Tracee Ellis Ross
Former First Lady Michelle Obama and Actress and Activist Tracee Ellis Ross


Coming Up


We hope to see you at these upcoming events:



Addressing Inequity through Arts Education: A Funders Briefing on the LA County Arts Education Profile

In partnership with the LA County Arts Ed Collective Funders Council, join us to discuss the role that arts education can play in addressing a range of critical issues raised in the recently released Portrait of Los Angeles County report. Read More


A Conversation with Give2Asia’s Birger Stamperdahl and Xiao Rong

Interested in philanthropy in China or elsewhere in Asia? Join us to hear from Give2Asia's leadership about their work connecting corporations, foundations and individuals with local charitable organizations and social enterprises across Asia. Read More



Exploring Organizational Capacity and Health: A Guide to Assessment Tools

For this webinar, participants will go through a database of over 90 assessment tools and review this memo to better understand the landscape of organizational assessments. Read More



The Foundation: A Performance by Tony Award-Winner Sarah Jones

Join SCG and the California Community Foundation for an evening of laughter, entertainment and thoughtful conversation with the Los Angeles philanthropic community. Commissioned by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The Foundation is a dynamic, multi-character one-person show. Read More



Educating the Next Generation of Environmental Stewards in Southern California

At this program, we will discuss the state of environmental education in Southern California. Participants will have an opportunity to connect and learn from other funders supporting this work in the region. Read More

SCG Staff News


A number of staff-related news and accolades to share:


Amanda Byrd, Vice President of Membership and Communications, has been selected and is currently participating in Leadership LA through the Southern California Leadership Network. As a fellow, she is spending one day a month this year engaging in a combination of classroom discussion and experiential learning on crucial topics, such as education, workforce development, transportation, healthcare, the environment, civic engagement and personal leadership development.




Seyron Foo, Director of Public Policy and Government Relations, has been selected as one of the Independent Sector’s 2018 American Express NGen Fellows. This national honor will provide Seyron an opportunity to strengthen his capacity for future impact, provide professional and leadership development, networking and peer support and connections with established sector leaders. Independent Sector is a national membership organization that brings together nonprofits, foundations and corporations to advance the common good.



Tuly MartinezTuly Martinez, Director of Programs and Conferences, has been selected by the Center for Nonprofit Management (CNM) as one of the 40 Inspiring Leaders who will be honored on June 14th during CNM’s 40th Anniversary Celebration! CNM reached out to nonprofit colleagues throughout Southern California to ask for nominations of inspiring leaders in executive, governance and emerging leadership positions. The judges were looking for examples of effective leadership, measurable results and inspiration in their organizations or community. The judges then had the difficult task of narrowing down hundreds of nominations to just 40 and Tuly was selected!



Annabelle RosboroughAnd finally, it is with great sadness that I announce the departure of Annabelle Rosborough, Senior Manager, Programs. Annabelle joined SCG in 2012 as a Project Assistant. In 2013, she was promoted to a Program Associate and soon after became a Program Manager. In 2016 she was again promoted to Senior Program Manager. I want to express our deepest gratitude to Annabelle. She joined our team at a critical juncture and time of change. She has made significant contributions and taken us to the next level in multiple areas—especially in veterans’ issues, homelessness, nonprofit capacity building, criminal justice, disaster relief and our work with the corporate sector. We wish Annabelle the very best, we thank her for her service, and we remain committed to continuing her work in these areas. Please do not hesitate to contact Dave Sheldon with any questions.

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

Christine Essel
President and CEO
Southern California Grantmakers


SCG President's Message - May 2018

Friday, May 4, 2018

Dear Colleagues,

With our esteemed President and CEO Chris Essel connecting with global leaders at the International Women’s Forum Cornerstone Conference this week, she has offered the SCG staff her monthly platform. We are excited to share the most powerful learnings from our recent 2018 Public Policy Conference with you, and to update you on several other important SCG news and events.


Jump To:

Takeaways from the 2018 Public Policy Conference

Family Philanthropy Conference: Pathways to Impact

Philanthropy in Sacramento Day

Register Today for SCG’s 2018 Annual

Sign Up for SCG’s Corporate Giving Brief

SCG Members Only: Update Your SCG Individual Profile

Coming Up

SCG Staff News

Takeaways from the 2018 Public Policy Conference

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

On April 23, SCG hosted over 300 leaders from our sector at our annual Public Policy Conference at the Center for Healthy Communities. This year’s theme was California Counts, and had a special focus on the 2020 Census, supporting full federal and state funding for a fair and accurate count, as well as on higher education policy changes. At the conference, the SCG community came together with leaders from across our region, our state and our country to examine new and urgent questions.

In a day full of great speakers, news and information, it is difficult to distill only a few takeaways. Still, we wanted to share key learnings from the conference, as captured on our conference hashtag, #SCGPolicyCon18:

  • The Census is crucial for determining funding and representation for California, and the time for foundations to engage on it is now! Chris Hoene of the California Budget & Policy Center added that over $35 billion is at stake for California with the 2020 Census. California is also at risk of losing political representation, which prompted one of our speakers, Ditas Katague, Director, Census 2020 California Complete Count, to say: “The Census is the foundation of our democracy.”

    We at Southern California Grantmakers are excited to announce that we are partnering with the California Community Foundation to launch the Southern California 2020 Census Funder Group. If you're interested, please contact Karla Mercado, Manager, Public Policy and Philanthropy California.

  • We need to elevate the voices of the historically unheard via voting reforms and an accurate Census count. Talking about voter suppression laws in other states, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who was a keynote speaker at the conference, said: “Making it difficult for people to vote is undemocratic, unpatriotic and un-American.” Secretary Padilla went on to say that California has become a nationwide model for improving and modernizing the voter experience, making it more inclusive and improving civic engagement. Nonprofit VOTE has put together toolkits for voter engagement strategies for private and community foundations. You can view the reports on our website.
  • We must ensure that California’s students of color and low-income students are making progress toward a college degree. On this point, California State University Chancellor Timothy White said: “it will be much more expensive to fail than to succeed” in terms of outcomes for students. The Chancellor’s Graduation Initiative 2025 will push system-wide changes to close the opportunity and achievement gaps with implications for workforce development as the state’s largest source of skilled workers. Peter Taylor, President, ECMC Foundation, and Michele Siqueiros, President, Campaign for College, gave us a great guide on what philanthropic leaders can do to move the needle forward on advancing diversity and equity in higher education leadership and student outcomes in California.
  • Youth organizers are leading the way. On a final note, we loved this post from the Frieda C. Fox Family Foundation: People say millennials want things ‘right now,’ as if it’s a bad thing. We need young people to continue to be impatient, because they use that frustration to push for real change.” Please check out this blog post talking about the “Innovative Civic and Voter Engagement Methods for a New Generation” session, led by Connie Malloy, Portfolio Director, James Irvine Foundation.


What were your takeaways from the conference? Send them to us or share them with #SCGPolicyCon18.



Chancellor White


Dr. Timothy White, California State University

Michele Siqueiros, The Campaign for College Opportunity; Peter J. Taylor, ECMC Foundation



Chris Hoene, California Budget & Policy Center; Ashley Swearengin, Central Valley Community Foundation; Ditas Katague, Census 2020 California Complete Count, State of California

The Honorable Alex Padilla, California Secretary
of State; Val Zavala, KCET (former)


SCG is proud to support our members as they pursue effective strategies and strong collaborations to do the work they aspire to do. To those who attended this year’s sold-out conference: thank you for your participation, and we hope you had an informative and productive experience. We would also like to once again thank our conference partner, the California Budget & Policy Center, and our member-led Conference Advisor group, as well as our sponsors and speakers.


Family Philanthropy Conference: Pathways to Impact

Kameron Green, Senior Manager, Programs
Jan Kern, Family Foundation Consultant

Family foundations have always played a key role in philanthropy, with their focus on strong grantee and community relationships and ability to respond nimbly. Now, family philanthropy is poised to both broaden and deepen its impact as the number of family foundations continues to grow. The question is, how can we make the most of our unique strengths and opportunities?

This year’s Family Philanthropy Conference, Pathways to Impact, looks at how we as grantmakers can think outside the box, look at innovative pathways and maximize our resources to really make a difference.

This year, we are joined by Farhad Ebrahimi, Founder and President of the Chorus Foundation, and Trista Harris, President of the Minnesota Council on Foundations.


Farhad Ebrahimi


Trista Harris


Farhad Ebrahimi
Founder and President,
Chorus Foundation


Trista Harris
Council on Foundations

This conference is focused on SCG members in the family philanthropy sector, but is open to any SCG member or eligible nonmember with an interest in these topics. Register today to be inspired and energized!

Philanthropy in Sacramento Day

​​​​​Seyron Foo, Director, Public Policy and Government Relations
Karla Mercado, Manager, Public Policy and Philanthropy California

We strongly encourage our members interested in using their public policy skills to attend the annual Philanthropy in Sacramento Day, which for the first time this year includes a half day briefing to prepare you for the next day’s full slate of meeting with policymakers.

Presented by Philanthropy California, our alliance with Northern California and San Diego Grantmakers, Philanthropy in Sacramento Day is a special event bringing together our state’s elected officials with leaders of our sector. It’s our opportunity to share the work of philanthropy so that our state’s policymakers can take the best practices developed from your grantmaking and scale it up to improve the lives of millions of Californians. This year, we will also place a special focus on the 2020 Census preparation efforts. Our time in Sacramento will include opportunities to:

  • Educate legislators and the administration about philanthropy’s role in civil society, the importance of 2020 Census and best practices on issues that you fund
  • Develop and cultivate relationships with fellow policy-oriented peers and policymakers
  • Encourage legislators to view foundations as thought partners. 

We are also thrilled to offer a half-day briefing and welcome reception for all participants on Monday, May 21. The briefing will cover emerging issues affecting philanthropy and communities across California and will provide an opportunity for interactive discussions with leading policy experts. Finally, you can connect with fellow participants at the Welcome Reception immediately following the briefing. Register today for this exciting event!

Register Today for SCG’s 2018 Annual Conference

Annual Conference Logo

Tuly Martinez, Director, Programs and Conferences

We are pleased to announce that registration for SCG’s 2018 Annual Conference is now open! This year, our focus is on Our Common Humanity.

The country is more divided politically and culturally than ever before and there are a dizzying number of conversations - often times conflicting - taking place over multiple channels and platforms. Yet, there is one thing that binds us together: Our Common Humanity. All of us have some basic, innate features that unify us and ultimately give us hope for the future. The philanthropic sector can draw on this common humanity in order to effect positive change in our communities and around the world.

At #SCGAnnualCon18, we’ll engage in a dialogue about what brings us together in a divided world. This year, we will convene in a unique meeting space that is conducive to these conversations: the Intercontinental Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. Join over 600 colleagues from our diverse philanthropic community of private, public, family, individual and corporate change-makers for this dynamic and inspiring day. Register today - we hope to see you there​​​!

Sign Up for SCG’s Corporate Giving Brief

Annabelle Rosborough, Senior Manager, Programs

We are pleased to announce that as an added membership benefit, all SCG members are eligible to receive our Corporate Giving. This curated biweekly email contains newsworthy and relevant articles highlighting trends in the corporate giving sector and profiling individuals and organizations.

We encourage our members to sign up for the brief as well as submit news that you think would be of interest to fellow SCG corporate giving members.

SCG Members Only: Update Your SCG Individual Profile

Morgan Bennett, Manager, Member Engagement

Did you know that as a part of your organization’s membership with Southern California Grantmakers, you have a personal profile? The information in your profile helps us provide you with the most relevant programs, services and information.

Please take a quick 5 minutes to log in and update your SCG profile.

Your User Name is usually your work email address.
If you forgot your password, you can reset it now.

The more you tell us about yourself, the more we can support your important work. And all you have to do is check a few boxes.
To make this more fun, on May 15, we will randomly choose three people who have updated their profiles to receive either a free ticket to our Annual Conference or a $100 donation to the nonprofit of their choice.

Please feel free to contact us with questions. Thank you in advance for helping us help you make the most of your SCG membership.


Coming Up

SCG Programs Team

We hope to see you at these upcoming events:



The United State of Women (USOW) 2018 Summit

SCG is a proud partner of the USOW's 2018 Summit. USOW is a national organization for any woman who sees that we need a different America for all women to survive and thrive, and wants to work collectively to achieve it. Read More


Green Investment without Displacement along the Los Angeles River

At this program, we will bring together leaders who have worked in coalition with other organizations on a broad set of issues related to the efforts to restore the Los Angeles River, including anti-displacement strategies and community development. Read More


Examining the Needs of Youth Involved in Both the Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Systems

Liberty Hill and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundations invite you to a discussion on dually involved youth―youth involved in both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems―with LA County officials, funders and other key stakeholders. Read More


Walking the Talk: Putting Values-Based Grantmaking into Practice

At this workshop, we’ll discuss PEAK Grantmaking’s research into values-based grantmaking and provide participants with skills to initiate conversations with colleagues and organizational leaders around aligning grantmaking practice with values. Read More

SCG Staff News


Yolanda Gipson


 Yolanda Gipson

SCG Leadership

We are pleased to announce that Yolanda Gipson has joined SCG as Executive Assistant to the President and CEO. Yolanda has over 15 years of administrative experience, most recently as the executive assistant to Maria Contreras Sweet, former Administrator of the Small Business Administration under President Obama and founder of ProAmerica Bank. Please join us in welcoming Yolanda to the SCG family.

From all of us at SCG, thank you for reading and for your continued membership!



SCG President's Message - April 2018

Monday, April 2, 2018

Dear Colleagues,

It’s April, and there is something special in the spring air. Around this time of year, we focus the spotlight on the public policy efforts of SCG and our members. It is truly wonderful to see our staff and members engaging in public policy like never before on a variety of important issues.

Before I go any further, I would be remiss if I didn’t also celebrate the tremendous renewed sense of civic engagement that is being led by youth, as demonstrated by the March for Our Lives events on March 24. What an inspiring day! If we were impressed last month with the grit that those students demonstrated after the tragedy at their school, then we should be even more encouraged by their determination to effect change—including registering thousands of young people to vote—at the marches and in the coming months. I believe we are witnessing something remarkable—which is even truer given the age and advanced wisdom and leadership that these students are exhibiting.

The marches across the country segue nicely into our own efforts to bring about positive change—especially in our sector—through SCG’s public policy initiatives. Over the past few years, SCG has built a robust public policy program; and this was readily apparent by our showing last month at the United Philanthropy Forum’s annual Foundations on the Hill (FOTH) gathering in Washington, D.C. This year, I was thrilled to attend FOTH with an impressive delegation of members from Philanthropy California, our alliance with Northern California and San Diego Grantmakers, for meetings with Congress about key issues of importance to foundations and philanthropy.

Philanthropy California delegation with (clockwise from top left): Representative Tony Cardenas;
Representative Jimmy Gomez; Senator Dianne Feinstein; Senator Kamala Harris

Our delegation met over a few days with more than 30 lawmakers to focus on three important issues to our sector: halting attempts to repeal the Johnson Amendment, the long-standing federal law that prohibits foundations and nonprofit organizations from engaging in partisan campaign activities; helping secure additional funding for the 2020 Census to ensure a fair and accurate count in California and nationwide; and raising concerns about placing a question related to citizenship on the Census, which would plummet participation and starve California of its fair share of federal resources.
I’m proud that our members were part of the wave of countless other organizations that succeeded together in accomplishing both of our goals: preventing attempts to repeal the Johnson Amendment as a part of the omnibus spending bill signed into law last month, and securing $1.344 billion of additional funding for the 2020 Census over the previous year, which was more than was requested by the Trump Administration. We also raised our concerns about the citizenship question, and we will continue to actively engage in educating policymakers in this decision’s harmful effects. For more information on the Census, contact Karla Mercado, SCG Manager, Public Policy and Philanthropy California.
We still have so much more public policy work ahead of us. Read more below about our upcoming Public Policy Conference and Philanthropy in Sacramento Day, and if you are a member, you can always sign up for our monthly Public Policy Roundup here.


Jump To:

Philanthropy in Sacramento Day

Welcome SCG's New Members

embRACE LA: 100 Dinners on Race

Program Round Up

Coming Up

SCG Staff News

Policy Conference Is Almost Sold Out!

SCG's 2018 Public Policy Conference on Monday, April 23 is almost sold out!

Join us for an in-depth look at the latest policy analysis and research on key issues impacting philanthropy. This year's conference will focus on the critical importance of full federal and state funding for the 2020 Census, and on fast-moving changes in higher education policy, among other topics.



We are excited to partner once again with the California Budget & Policy Center and are looking forward to hearing from many distinguished speakers, including The Honorable Alex Padilla, California’s Secretary of State; Dr. Timothy White, Chancellor of California State University and Ashley Swearengin, President and CEO of the Central Valley Community Foundation and former Mayor of Fresno.

It’s not too late to register. We hope to see you there for a day of thought-provoking conversations about our sector's role in advocacy efforts that strengthen our communities. 

Philanthropy in Sacramento Day

Philanthropy California’s annual Philanthropy in Sacramento Day (May 22, 2018) is a special event bringing together our state’s elected officials with leaders of our sector. Members from across our three regional associations gather together to walk the halls of the state capitol, bringing attention to the most pressing issues affecting our communities, including the 2020 Census, child welfare, health and immigration. Philanthropy in Sacramento is a unique opportunity to meet directly with legislators and administration officials, and connect with fellow policy-oriented peers.



This year, we are also excited to offer a half-day briefing and welcome reception for all participants the day before, May 21. The briefing will cover emerging issues affecting philanthropy and communities across California and will provide an opportunity for interactive discussions with leading policy experts.


May 21                                                                                          May 22                              
Half-Day Policy Briefing: 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm                              Legislative Visits: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Welcome Reception: 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm                                     (Hotel and Location Information to follow)

Welcome SCG’s Newest Members

I am happy to welcome SCG’s newest members from this quarter. Please click on their links to learn more about them in our Member Directory.

embRACE LA: 100 Dinners on Race

On April 16-20, 1000 Angelenos will gather in 100 homes and spaces across the city for thoughtful dinner dialogues through embRACE LA, an initiative aimed at unifying Angelenos and empowering communities through a citywide conversation about race and racism. Dinners are free and all residents of Los Angeles are welcome to apply by April 1st. Click here to sign up

Learn more about embRACE LA's multidimensional approach to changing narratives, building relationships and advancing public policy solutions.

Program Round Up
  • On March 2, we held a lively conversation with Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab about innovative ways to make higher education more accessible and affordable. We will continue to lift up this conversation through our College Access Funders Group and at our Annual Conference.
  • On March 6, Nonprofit Finance Fund led a training about the Full Cost Project geared toward foundation trustees and board members.
  • On March 7, the SCG International Funders Group hosted an inspiring conversation with Nancy Aossey, President and CEO of the International Medical Corps, to learn more about their approach to building local capacity in forgotten crises around the globe.
  • On March 20, participants learned about RACE COUNTS, a new initiative and comprehensive online tracking tool that ranks all 58 California counties on issues of race in seven key areas.


Coming Up

I hope to see you at these upcoming events.



Biggest Changes in the Financial Sector (Orange County Session)

Join us to discuss how recent changes to generally accepted accounting principles and the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will affect the philanthropic sector.
Read More


Profit + Purpose: Does Your Portfolio Align With Your Values?

At this program, our panel will discuss how individuals, 401 K plans, foundations and endowments can use the power of their investments to create change.
Read More


The United State of Women 2018 Summit

SCG is proud to partner with the United State of Women. This year, former First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama will be one of many featured speakers. 
Read More


SCG Family Philanthropy Conference

Our annual Family Philanthropy Conference is fast approaching. Save the date for this must-attend event for the family philanthropy community.
Read More

SCG Staff News

Finally, I'd like to welcome our newest staff member, Brenda Estrada, who started this month. As the Associate, Finance and Operations, Brenda is responsible for all accounting functions and provides administrative support to our Vice President, Operations and Government Relations.

Thank you for reading. As always, I'm interested in your ideas and feedback on SCG’s work. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or suggestions. Onwards!


Christine Essel
President and CEO
Southern California Grantmakers

SCG President's Message - March 2018

Monday, March 5, 2018


California's Call for Inclusion

Coming Up

Highlights of the Federal Spending Agreement

SCG Staff News

Program Round Up


Dear Colleagues,

I have to be honest. Starting another President’s Message with reflections on yet another horrible tragedy is exhausting and disheartening. So instead, I’m going to focus on something that gives me hope: the emerging generation of youth activists who are speaking out on the issues that matter to them and our collective future. Out of this tragedy, we are seeing the beginning of a civic-engagement movement that is lasting more than just one news cycle.

Have you seen this incredibly moving speech by one of the students from Parkland? This remark, in particular, resonated with me:

"Every single person up here today, all these people should be home grieving. But instead we are up here standing together’s time for victims to be the change that we need to see."

Students across the country are appearing at rallies and on news programs. They have announced plans for a massive rally against gun violence in Washington, D.C. on March 24, with smaller rallies and protests in cities around the U.S.

(Image source: YouTube)

To be clear: youth activists have been around for a long time and they have always made their mark on the conversations of the day. In fact, 50 years ago this month, Chicano student activists walked out of their classrooms to demand a better education right here in East Los Angeles. That youth activism sits within a history of important moments that have shaped our nation. But there is something about this particular youth movement that seems different. Maybe it is because we are living in a time when civility seems to be missing from our civic spaces. Where it feels like the “adults” in the room tend to call each other names, point fingers and avoid dealing with the hard issues, leaving a leadership gap bigger than in years past. Seeing students like these stand up to fill that gap gives me hope. I look forward to finding ways to support our next generation to stand up, speak out and fight for our collective future.

This connects so closely to Bill and Melinda Gates’ recently released annual letter for their foundation, in which they make the case for optimism despite all of the doom and gloom in the world. And sure enough, one of the reasons they “see a world that’s getting better” is that they are meeting “brave and brilliant individuals all over the world who are imagining new ways to transform their communities.” I believe that student activists across the country can indeed transform our communities.

Of course I am proud of the work each of you individually and all of us together are doing to tackle a wide range of problems. But I am really excited about what the next generation will bring to the table.

Please continue reading below for updates and news from our membership. You can also check our News Page for the latest on SCG and philanthropy in Southern California.




Last month I was proud to co-author a statement on behalf of Philanthropy California, an alliance of Northern California, Southern California and San Diego Grantmakers, about the upcoming 2020 Census. Together we affirmed our shared belief that “We all count. We all deserve to be counted.” Our statement goes on as follows:

“The California of today is heralded by many as a shining star of our times. We are the 6th largest economy in the world. We are home to 10 million immigrants, the largest immigrant community of any state. While experts predict that the US will become a “majority-minority” country in 2044, California already is.

It is also true that California is facing profound challenges. We have a higher poverty rate than the U.S. average. We rank 41st in the nation in public spending per K-12 student on education. There are stark racial disparities from the criminal justice system to representation in the C-suite. And housing costs have made the dream of home ownership unattainable for a large percentage of the population.”

If we are to tackle these challenges effectively, California must receive its fair share of Federal resources and political representation. We risk losing more than $2.5 billion annually in federal funds and even a Congressional seat if there is an undercount. As such, all of us need to do whatever it takes to ensure a fully inclusive 2020 Census. Read the full statement.
In February, Congress reached an agreement on a federal spending plan. Our Public Policy team put together a brief summary of the agreement.

The agreement would lift spending caps on defense and non-defense spending, put off a raising of the debt ceiling to March 2019 (after this year’s November elections), put the annual deficit over $1.2 trillion and push the nation’s debt over $20 trillion. The following chart summarizes some of the major reductions in spending in the agreement in interest areas of SCG’s members.

Non-Defense Discretionary Funding Increases Under Bipartisal Deal
Yet Remains Below 2010 Level

Note: All amounts exclude funding for disasters, emergencies, program integrity and Overseas Contigency Operations (OPO)
Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis of Data from the Congressional Budget Office, Office of Management and Budget and announced agreement for 2018 and 2019.

You can view the entire summary here. Members can also sign up anytime for our monthly public policy roundup here.
  • At the “Where Trauma Meets Ethics” program on February 12, Los Angeles County Director of Mental Health Dr. Jon Sherin and other special guests discussed the complexities of Moral Injury and addressed the important role philanthropy can play in understanding and addressing trauma across a spectrum of experiences and populations.
  • On February 13, SCG partnered with the Building Movement Project to discuss the findings from its recently released Race to Lead report which explores the nonprofit racial leadership gap in California. Even in California, we have a lot of work to do. To view the report, please click here.

Race to Lead Panel (l-r): Sean Thomas-Breitfeld, Co-Director, Building Movement Project; Mari Riddle, Executive Director, Grand Performances; Alberto Retana, President & CEO, Community Coalition; Kafi Blumenfield, Trustee, The James Irvine Foundation and Tides; Wendy Chang, Director, Dwight Stuart Youth Foundation






Before I close, I’d like to take this opportunity to express my deep gratitude to my longtime assistant and colleague Cheryl Thomas, who is leaving SCG to move closer to her family. Cheryl has been my right-hand woman for more than two decades across several roles, and I have been so fortunate to partner with her for all this time. Please join me in wishing her the very best in her new adventures!

As always, thank you for being on this journey with us, and please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.


Christine Essel
President and CEO
Southern California Grantmakers

California’s Call for Inclusion: Why Philanthropy Should Engage in Census 2020

Thursday, February 8, 2018

California has long been home to a special kind of American Dream. People from all walks of life come to our state to find opportunity and prosperity. Since we were granted statehood in 1850 after the Mexican-American War, when the population was just less than 100,000, we have grown to the most populous state in the nation, with nearly 39 million residents.

The California of today is heralded by many as a shining star of our times. We are the 6th largest economy in the world. We are home to 10 million immigrants, the largest immigrant community of any state. While experts predict that the US will become a “majority-minority” country in 2044, California already is.

It is also true that California is facing profound challenges. We have a higher poverty rate than the US average. We rank 41st in the nation in public spending per K-12 student on education. There are stark racial disparities from the criminal justice system to representation in the C-suite. And housing costs have made the dream of home ownership unattainable for a large percentage of the population.

Even as we see both sides of the coin about the state of affairs here, one notion binds us together. It is the belief that we all have a place here. We all count. We all deserve to be counted.

This belief matters because on April 1, 2020, the Census will attempt to count every single person in the country. Unfortunately, we know from both history and how the present Census operations are unfolding that not everyone will be counted. An undercount bodes poorly for California. 

An accurate 2020 Census is important to California for a number of reasons. First, an undercount places California at risk of losing billions of dollars in federal funding. In 2015, California received $76 billion dollars in funding for federal assistance programs from housing to education to public entitlements like Medicare based on decennial Census-derived statistics. Second, California is at risk to lose political representation – the state could lose a seat in Congress if there is an undercount. Third, we risk the ability to understand the social, racial, and economic inequities facing our state if the very data we rely on is inaccurate.

We already know some of the greatest challenges to a fair and accurate Census count in California. There are numerous “hard-to-count” communities that live in our state. These communities include low-income residents, people of color, immigrants with limited English proficiency, and very young children. Additionally, there are various national policy challenges facing the Census, ranging from insufficient and delayed federal funding to the national climate of fear being stoked in Washington, D.C. and around the country against immigrants, Muslims, and others.

History has shown us that philanthropy in California can make a difference in addressing these challenges. In 2010, the collective investment from philanthropy of nearly $10 million dollars far exceeded the state of California’s $3 million dollar allocation. Philanthropy’s investment was specifically aimed at increasing the participation of hard-to-count communities.

It worked. While the state overall experienced a lower participation rate between 2010 and 2000, there was a much smaller decline in the hard-to-count communities according to published reports. In some areas of the state, the participation rate of hard-to-count communities experienced an increase in their participation rate from 2010 to 2000.

Because of what is at stake, Philanthropy California, an alliance of Northern California, Southern California and San Diego Grantmakers, is going to be engaging in the Census for the next three years in ways that make sense for their memberships. This will include sharing information, creating educational programs, supporting regional collaborations, and convening diverse stakeholders. We are also partnering with Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR) to ensure that there is effective and strategic coordination. This year, Philanthropy California will also engage in public policy advocacy efforts on the Census from the state budget to more local/regional action. Lastly, we are working with our national partners, Funders Committee for Civic Participation and Democracy Funders, who have been mobilizing efforts to activate our sector since 2016.

We know that virtually no foundation has a standing Census program. But we also know that virtually all foundations working in California depend on Census data and will be adversely impacted by an inaccurate 2020 Census count. We encourage you to join the efforts that are already under way. There are various opportunities both this year and next to engage, and we hope the conversations can start now.

Together, we can make California an even more inclusive home for all.

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President's Message - February 2018

Tuesday, February 6, 2018


TRHT-LA and the National Day of Racial Healing

Program Round Up

Register Now for SCG's 2018 Public Policy Conference on 4/23

Coming Up

SCG Staff News


Dear Colleagues,

The first month of 2018 is behind us, and oh, what a month it was; so please bear with me in my slightly longer-than-normal message. Whether it was mudslides in California, the contentious debate about immigration and the government shutdown or the growing chorus of #MeToo and Time’s Up, not a day goes by that major events don’t capture the headlines and launch us into renewed challenges to which philanthropy traditionally responds.

Now more than ever, we are having tough but needed conversations on issues of equity, power and privilege. At the recent Women’s Marches worldwide, entertainment awards shows, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day events (especially since this year marked the 50th anniversary of his assassination) and now as we are in the midst of Black History Month, many of us are feeling a greater sense of urgency to address the laws and behaviors that have led to systemic racial and gender inequities. 

More and more clearly, SCG recognizes that inequities based on these and other identities are fundamental drivers of many of the challenges that funders are trying to solve. In recent years, we have started to address these topics through our ongoing programming and conferences and through our growing public policy education and advocacy efforts. Increasingly, as we did at our 2017 Annual Conference, we have shared our stage with speakers who take on equity and racial justice in their work as grantmakers, community leaders, government officials, researchers and artists.

As you will read below, on January 16 SCG co-led a cross-sector collaborative of partners to commemorate the National Day of Racial Healing as a part of our partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for our Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) work in Los Angeles. Not only was this an inspiring and impactful day that engaged people in genuine efforts to increase understanding, communication, caring and respect for one another, but this kind of work is helping us to learn about many of the issues underlying the work of philanthropy and to see how we can leverage what we’re learning to increase the value of the programs and support we offer to our members.

This growing focus on equity is clearly important to our members. Last year, we worked with the Center for Effective Philanthropy to conduct our first member survey in many years. As a member-driven organization, it was very compelling for us to see that 87% of respondents thought “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” should be one of SCG's highest priorities for our work over the next three years—the highest of any other choice.

As we move into 2018 and beyond, I want you to know that SCG is deeply committed to the crucial work of equity—within our own organization and across our programming, policy initiatives and partnerships. We won’t change the breadth of our programming—but across everything we do, we’ll be more aware of how our work is intertwined with questions of equity and social justice.

For SCG, this is about systems and policies, not politics. We will continue to lift up a variety of political viewpoints and grantmaking approaches in our community and to offer a wide range of opportunities for learning, connections and action. Using our equity lens simply means that we will think about whose voices and perspectives we are hearing internally and externally—or not hearing—as we consider what topics to cover, speakers to invite, policy positions to support, people to hire, venues and vendors to select, words and images to use in our communications and so on.

Across the political and ideological spectrum, grantmakers share a deep commitment to improving people’s lives. That’s where we can come together. We don’t believe that there is a one-size-fits-all requirement that funders should universally become “systems change” grantmakers or policy advocates. Each of us has a part to play in our own way, from doing crucial safety-net grantmaking to investing millions in long-term community organizing.

As we begin the year together, this feels like the right time for me to share these thoughts on SCG’s journey with you, knowing that our vision of the path ahead will continue to change as we learn together. In fact, learning and inclusion are two of SCG’s core organizational values. We hope that as we include our members in this work and learn to apply our equity lens, we will gain more clarity on what each of us at SCG can do individually, organizationally, within our membership and beyond to achieve our mission of creating meaningful change for our communities. As always, I strongly encourage our members to share with me your thoughts, learning and resources on issues of equity.



In 2017, we were honored to be selected by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation as the lead partner for a broad cross-sector collaborative that will bring a Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) framework to a multi-year initiative here in Los Angeles.

I am so pleased to introduce the new Director of the TRHT-LA work and the newest member of the SCG team, Sonny Abegaze

Sonny Abegaze, SCG

Our TRHT-LA team helped coordinate events and resources for the National Day of Racial Healing, which took place on January 16. If you missed it, fear not. We created a recap of the day here (including Community Circles and an official proclamation issued by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors), captured photo highlights and created a list of things you can do individually and organizationally to advance equity and help heal Southern California that can be used year-round.

(left) Participants at a Community Circle during the National Day of Racial Healing; (center) Keving Fong, facilitator of the Community Circle, along with participants; (right) Christine Essel, SCG; Pamela Perry, Days of Dialogue; Adele Lee, SCG; Dave Sheldon, SCG; The Reverend Alvin Herring, W.K. Kellogg Foundation; Robin Toma, LA County; Francisco Ortega, City of LA; Nike Irvin, The Riordan Foundation



Registration is now open for SCG’s 2018 Public Policy Conference. We will once again partner with the California Budget & Policy Center and are thrilled to announced keynote presentations by:




The Honorable Alex Padilla
California Secretary
of State


Ashley Swearengin
President and CEO, Central
Valley Community Foundation


Dr. Timothy P. White
Chancellor of the California State University

The Conference is the perfect opportunity to connect with public officials and grantmaker colleagues to explore relevant public policy issues impacting our region. This year’s theme of “California Counts” will engage participants in a discussion about the impact of the 2020 Census, higher education policy changes and the implications of the new federal tax law on California.
We hope you will join us on April 23rd. Register now before the Conference sells out.



I am pleased to announce that several of our wonderful staff members have been promoted in recognition of their growing responsibilities and contributions to the SCG team.






Charlotte Ahles
Director, Statewide
Online Technology


Rachel Doria
Senior Associate, Membership & Grants


Adele Lee
Senior Manager,
Strategic Initiatives


Karla Mercado
Manager, Public Policy & Philanthropy California


Here are some additional highlights of SCG events held in the past few weeks:


John Kobara, California Community Foundation; Dave Oppenheim, State Controller’s Office; State Controller Betty Yee; Christine Essel, SCG; Jamie Merisotis, Lumina Foundation; Allison Holmes, Annenberg Foundation

  • Feb. 12: Join SCG, LA County Director of Mental Health Dr. Jon Sherin and other special guests to discuss Where Trauma Meets Ethics: Exploring Moral Injury as a Compelling Issue for Public Health. Moral Injury is a concept coined to describe the impact of war on service members required to engage in behaviors that betray their values, which can also be an instructive framework for the public as we work to reintegrate people traumatized by a range of circumstances as healthy and productive citizens.
  • Feb. 13: We are partnering with the Building Movement Project to discuss the findings from its recently-released Race to Lead report that explores the nonprofit racial leadership gap in California.
  • Mar. 12-14: SCG members are invited to join this year's California delegation to Foundations on the Hill (FOTH) in Washington, D.C. FOTH is the one time each year when philanthropy speaks with a strong, collective voice on Capitol Hill.
  • Apr. 30 – May 2: Join us at the soon-to-sell-out Grantmakers for Effective Organizations 2018 National Conference in San Francisco. SCG members receive a discount and can register before other non-GEO members on February 13. Also, SCG and our Philanthropy California partners will be hosting a reception at the conference.


More than ever, I am so grateful to each of you for your leadership during this crucial time in our grantmaking community and in our society. It’s an honor to work alongside you as we all seek to heal what divides us and build the most effective solutions together.

Christine Essel
President and CEO
Southern California Grantmakers


2017 Year in Review

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

To say that 2017 has been a tumultuous year would be an understatement. This year we saw a deep and widening polarization in our country’s politics, tragic natural and man-made disasters beyond our wildest imaginations, and countless other social, economic, and environmental events take place on a daily basis. Propelled by the fast-moving, large-scale developments here at home and around the world, the Southern California philanthropy sector is undergoing a transformation that will have ripple effects for years to come. 

With so much doom and gloom in the headlines, it would be easy to throw up our collective hands and give up on the important work that means so much to all of us. Yet, we have found that there is also plenty of good news to go around, whether it is the Olympics being awarded to our region or California leading the charge on the Paris Climate Agreement and other fronts internationally. We have also found that through all of this turbulence, our members have demonstrated a renewed resilience by committing even more deeply to the hard work ahead. We are seeing high profile leaders in our community speak out against unfair policies and other injustices.

Check out the SCG 2017 Year in Review

We at SCG are humbled and honored to have all of you as members. And my staff and I remained steadfastly committed to our mission of championing effective philanthropy and advancing collaborative efforts that create meaningful change for our communities.

It is no easy feat to advance this mission, and it is yet another understatement to say that we were busy in 2017. Whether we were putting on one of our 150+ high-quality programs or conferences; walking the halls of Capitol Hill advocating for better public policy on the vital issues of the day; or connecting you with peers and partners and sharing cutting edge information, we at SCG are focused on making an impact for our members and for the region.

There is far too much work to cover in one email, so we put together a brief whirlwind tour of the year to give you a better sense of our work in 2017. I hope you will take two minutes to check it out.

To give you just a small sampling of our accomplishments in 2017:

  • In January, we launched Philanthropy California, our partnership with Northern California Grantmakers and San Diego Grantmakers that brings together the deep local expertise and connections of our three regional networks to increase our impact on statewide and national issues that affect us all; and we are already seeing significant progress.
  • In April, we convened our largest ever Public Policy Conference to help our members navigate the currents of state and federal public policy; this was followed in September by our largest Annual Conference, where we looked at overlapping issues and identities that impact the well-being of community members we serve.
  • In November, we released a groundbreaking report chronicling the first year of one of our flagship initiatives, the Center for Strategic Public-Private Partnerships (CSPPP), which is a collaboration between government and philanthropy (including many of our members) housed in the Los Angeles County Office of Child Protection.
  • Also in November, we helped launch along with our partners Measure of America and 15 leading member organizations The Portrait of Los Angeles County, a comprehensive data analysis of well-being in the county using the human development framework and index.

And we are not even close to slowing down. In fact, 2018 looks to be even busier than this year. We are engaging with many of you in the crucial national debate and the hard work related to creating equity. In 2017, SCG deepened our efforts to address equity—especially racial equity—as a key factor in effective grantmaking and a thriving society. This work will continue in 2018 across our programs, policy work, operations, and new initiatives like our Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation - LA collaboration. Another one of our top priorities is to support full federal and state funding for a fair and accurate count in the 2020 Census. We will bring the 2020 Census to the center of public policy conversations, inviting you to learn more about what is at stake. Finally, please be sure to save the dates for our three 2018 conferences:

  • Public Policy Conference (4/23/18)
  • Family Philanthropy Conference (6/5/18)
  • Annual Conference (9/17/18)  

Just as we are gearing up for 2018, I urge all of you to continue having those tough conversations and keep driving the change—all of the change—that is so critically needed. Now is the perfect time to start thinking about those New Year’s Resolutions for yourselves and your organizations. Your individual and collective vision and leadership—not just in the region, but globally—is needed now more than ever to tackle the challenges lying ahead of us.
I will say it again: it is an honor and a privilege for me to lead Southern California Grantmakers and for us to learn, connect, and take action with you on so many important topics. Thank you for your membership and for the work that you do. We look forward to working with you in 2018 and beyond.

Wishing the best to you and yours this holiday season.


Christine Essel
President and CEO
Southern California Grantmakers

SCG 2017 Year in Review

Thursday, December 14, 2017

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Update on Tax Reform

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to share with all of SCG’s membership a “special edition” of our Public Policy Roundup given the importance of federal tax legislation on our sector. In fact, the Congressional conference committee held its first (and only) public hearing today on tax legislation passed by the House and Senate, and a tentative deal has been reached by Senate and House leaders. Below we provide a high-level summary of the impacts of the proposed tax legislation, which SCG has been monitoring since the beginning of the year.

Internal Revenue Service rules permit foundations—both public and private—to lobby on the tax legislation as it falls under the “self-defense” exemption. If, after reading this message, you feel compelled to act, and you have questions about next steps, please feel free to contact Seyron Foo, SCG’s Director of Public Policy and Government Relations, at (213) 680-8866 ext. 221 or [email protected].

If you are interested in additional public policy conversations, we encourage you to sign up for our robust monthly Public Policy Roundup, a benefit of SCG membership. SCG members, please log in to see the latest Round Up.

Jump to:  Where Are We On Tax Reform?  / How Does Tax Reform Affect Philanthropy’s Work?
What Is Philanthropy’s Position on Tax Reform? / Are There Other Items of Interest?



The tax bill discussions have moved into the conference committee because the House and Senate passed different versions of the tax reform bill. You can view the Tax Policy Center and Tax Foundation comparisons of current law, the Senate bill, and the House legislation here and here, respectively.

We learned today that Senate and House leaders have a conceptual agreement related to lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, lowering the top income tax income credit to 37 percent, retaining most of the benefit mortgage deduction, and retaining income tax deduction for the State and Local Tax (SALT) for up to $10,000. It is unclear where the estate tax repeal stands. The House version repeals the estate tax in its entirety in 2024, while the Senate version sunsets the doubling of the estate exemption to $11.2 million ($22.4 million for couples).

The Johnson Amendment, a provision in the U.S. tax code that prohibits all 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates, is also a point of difference—and one on which Philanthropy California—an alliance of Northern California Grantmakers, Southern California Grantmakers, and San Diego Grantmakers—has been active. The House included a provision in its version that would weaken the Johnson Amendment, eroding nonprofit nonpartisanship (for more, see below).

The timeline for a final agreement to emerge remains uncertain, though it is likely that the vote will occur next week. However, as we have witnessed with most high-profile legislation this year, timelines are ever-shifting in the Capitol.

The funding of government operations could be a potential hiccup to the above timeline. Last week, Congress passed a Continuing Resolution to keep the government “open” for two more weeks, setting themselves up for a pre-Christmas discussion on another Continuing Resolution. Issues that remain unresolved—with some votes on tax reform being tied to these outcomes—include a solution to the President’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and stabilization of the health insurance markets.


The outcome of the tax reform bill could affect philanthropy in the following ways:

  • Reduces charitable giving: Proposed changes to the tax code, specifically the increase in the standard deduction, would reduce giving by $14-$27 billion, according to studies by the Tax Policy Center and American Enterprise Institute, among others. This amounts to almost 7 percent of annual giving in 2016.
  • Initiates cuts to social services: Tax reform will add at least $1 trillion to the national debt, according to Congress’s nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation’s (JCT) analysis, inclusive of the projected economic growth spurred by the tax cuts. The Congressional Budget Office, another Congressional nonpartisan office, estimates $1.5 trillion in deficits over the next ten years. Consequently, under existing Congressional rules to control deficits known as “pay-as-you-go” (Paygo, in DC jargon), automatic cuts would occur if Congress does not offset the deficit with outlined cuts or revenue increases. This includes $25 billion in cuts to Medicare and $1.7 billion for programs related to foster care, Meals on Wheels, and other social services. A complete list of automatic cuts can be found here
  • Repeals Johnson Amendment, exposing nonprofits to politicking: The House version of the tax bill contains a partial repeal of the Johnson Amendment. The House’s proposed change would also make political donations—for the first time ever—tax-deductible when funneled through charitable nonprofits, houses of worship, and foundations.  
  • Establishes a flat excise tax for private foundations: The House bill would establish a flat rate of 1.4 percent on the net investment income of private foundations. The Senate does not make changes to the private foundation excise tax. Currently, private foundations must grapple with a two-tiered tax rate – one at 2 percent and another at 1 percent, depending on the foundation’s grantmaking in a given year relative to the average payout from the previous five years.



SCG has been working through our partners on tax reform, particularly related to the Johnson Amendment. Since our March trip to Washington, DC as a part of Foundations on the Hill, we have been consistent in our message that the repeal of the Johnson Amendment would have would have harmful effects to the sector.

Additionally, SCG has been working through our partners, including the United Philanthropy Forum, on the larger tax reform efforts on the “universal charitable deduction” to offset the changes to the tax code. The Council on Foundations and Independent Sector have also been actively involved in Washington. The universal charitable deduction is an above-the-line deduction on charitable giving regardless of whether an individual elects to take a standard deduction or to itemize. We see a potential effort to bring this forward again given Congress’s renewed focus on potential changes to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and other social safety net programs in 2018.


The tax proposals touch every aspect of the work you, our members, do in your mission to make the world a better place. Here are a few more items of potential interest, relevant to our work in Southern California:

  • Affordable Housing: The House proposal eliminates tax-exempt bonds, known as private-activity bonds, and the low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC). Affordable housing developers frequently use both tools to finance the construction of affordable housing. A report by Novogradac estimated a loss of 1 million rental units as a result of the proposal.

    In California, private activity bonds accounted for $17.7 billion for affordable and senior housing, $19.3 billion for hospitals and healthcare, $4.1 billion colleges and universities, $700 million for museums and cultural institutions, and $2.6 billion for K-12 schools since 2008, according to State Treasurer John Chiang.

    LIHTC accounts for an estimated $250 million, the largest source of funding for low-income housing in California. LIHTC has financed nearly 3 million rental units nationwide.

  • Deduction for Natural Disasters: The House plan eliminates the deduction for losses incurred during a national disaster, including the wildfires affecting Southern California. Interestingly, the House bill provides an exemption for the victims of the recent hurricanes affecting the Gulf Coast.
  • State and Local Tax (SALT) Deduction: Existing federal law allows for the deduction of tax payments to state and local governments for those who itemize. More than six million Californians used this deduction to the benefit of $112.5 billion. Today’s tentative agreement would limit the state and local tax deduction to a maximum of $10,000 for both real estate and income. Limit of this deduction would increase tax payments for some Californians.

SCG will continue to work with our national partners on this crucial legislation affecting our tax sector. Since last week, we have been calling Members of the House of Representative in Southern California to voice our concerns about the weakening of the Johnson Amendment. Given where conversations related to tax reform are heading on the Hill and where we believe SCG can most strategically exert influence, we have focused our advocacy energies on this issue.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to me. Tax reform will profoundly affect our work, and I look forward to our continued partnership in advancing philanthropy’s work.

Christine Essel
President and CEO
Southern California Grantmakers


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Southern California Fires: What You Can Do

Friday, December 8, 2017

Dear colleagues,

This week, Southern California has been ravaged by a series of powerful wildfires. Fueled by dry conditions and the Santa Ana winds, these fires have caused widespread damage in multiple counties in our region, including Ventura, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Bernardino, and San Diego. Today, the federal government approved a disaster declaration for California.

We at Southern California Grantmakers are wishing for the best for those that have been affected by the fires. Many organizations are responding to the fires, causing a stress on the regional nonprofit infrastructure. During this time period and into the future, we are committed to doing everything we can to support our members and the communities they serve. To that end, we have created a Southern California Wildfires resources page that lists regional funds that have been set up to help with short, medium, and long-term response and recovery efforts for the fire-affected communities. We will continue to add relevant information to this page as it becomes available.

In addition, we are discussing setting up a funder briefing call to go over how people can support response and recovery efforts; please stay tuned for more information soon.

At SCG, we see our role in these disasters as helping to share information on what is needed now; inform best practices in emergency relief and disaster recovery philanthropy; vet and publicize trusted funds for relief and recovery; advise on how best to meet short and long-term needs; and connect our members with government officials and other key stakeholders.

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or if you want us to share any resources with our audiences.

Christine Essel
President and CEO
Southern California Grantmakers


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President's Message - November 2017

Friday, November 3, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

This month, in addition to reflections on the philanthropy sector and updates on SCG’s ongoing programs and initiatives, I wanted to take a step back and share with you some big-picture work that we’ve been doing with our staff and board. Like you, our members, we always aspire to operate with as much clarity and impact as possible. To that end, we recently took a fresh look at our organizational mission and values, and I am very pleased to present you with the results. 

SCG has grown significantly over the past four years since I started working here – both in our membership and in the scope of our work. Recognizing a need to re-examine, re-define, and re-commit to our core identity, we engaged strategic consultants to work with our staff and board on this task. The whole process started at our staff retreat this past spring; since then, there has been a great deal of thoughtful, collaborative back-and-forth between the staff and board. The work culminated last month, when the SCG board signed off on this statement of our mission and values.

Mission. Southern California Grantmakers’ mission is to champion effective philanthropy and advance collaborative efforts that create meaningful change for our communities.

Values. Our values are at the heart of the SCG community. They guide our strategy, inform our day-to-day work, and move us to take action.

  • Collaboration. Everything we do centers around creating community: whether it is with our members, strategic partners, or leaders in the nonprofit, private, or public sectors. We raise up and support opportunities for our members to share, learn, and work together as a way to strengthen and complement each other’s efforts.

  • Leadership. We encourage dialogue and action around the challenges that our sector exists to address, and create opportunities for members to have a voice within and beyond the funder community, as well as through civic engagement and public policy.

  • Learning. We bring to our work a sense of curiosity and desire to continually grow and improve as an organization. We enable our members to continually sharpen their professional skills and knowledge—and to share their skills and knowledge with one another as a dynamic learning community.

  • Inclusion. We respect differing viewpoints across our organization, membership, and our broader society, and believe that diversity of ideas and experiences leads to better strategies for our sector. We recognize that in order to address our greatest challenges and advance equity, we need to counter existing power dynamics by seeking out less-often-heard leaders and community voices to inform our work. 

  • Impact. We bring strategic thinking to all aspects of our work, helping philanthropy and its partners make a positive and lasting difference in our communities through their giving, expertise, networks, convening power, advocacy, and freedom to take risks.

As President and CEO of SCG, I take very seriously my responsibility to lead an organization that constantly strives to live up to these values in executing our mission – and to live up to the expectations of our members, who are values-driven leaders in their own right. From our programs and public policy advocacy to our everyday interactions with you, the SCG staff and I will do our best to live these values of collaboration, leadership, learning, inclusion, and impact. As always, thank you for being on this journey with us!

Please continue reading below for updates and news from our membership. You can also check our News Page for the latest on SCG and philanthropy in Southern California.  

In This Post: 

2017 Fundamentals Program Trains 66 New Grantmakers  / Public Policy Update  / Join Team SCG for United Way's Homewalk 2017 / Program Round-Up  /  Looking Ahead


One of the truly exciting aspects of our work is welcoming new colleagues to the world of philanthropy. And one of the best ways for us to do that is through our signature program, Fundamentals of Effective Grantmakingwhich took place over four days in October. This program provided an unparalleled opportunity for staff who are new to the field to learn primary grantmaking competencies and for seasoned professionals to revisit their core grantmaking skills. 


Participants honed their skills on everything from assessing grant proposals and managing relationships with grantees to understanding financial statements and practicing ethics in grantmaking. The workshop also provided excellent opportunities for participants to network.   

At SCG, we believe strongly in supporting a highly-skilled, well-informed, and deeply networked philanthropic community. Programs like Fundamentals provide grantmakers with the essential knowledge they need to maximize their effectiveness and impact. 

Many thanks to all the peer leaders who taught this year. And a warm congratulations to the 66 members of our grantmaking community who completed this year's program.



On October 23, we were very fortunate to have State Senator Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) speak with SCG members as a part of our ongoing Public Policy Speaker Series. In this interactive conversation with Tara Roth, SCG board member and President of the Goldhirsh Foundation, Senator Allen talked about a number of topics, including K-12 and post-secondary public education, confronting budget deficits and rainy day funds, and how California is leading efforts on climate change. Senator Allen also expressed interest in creating stronger partnerships between public and philanthropic entities, acknowledging that philanthropies should not just be "ATMs" and could play a critical role in driving innovation where public agencies have failed to do so.

(left to right) Chris Essel, Southern California Grantmakers, State Senator Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), Tara Roth, Goldhirsh Foundation

As many of you know, the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a budget to allow for the expedited consideration of tax reform legislation. You can view our analysis of the President's proposed tax reform plan here. For more analyses like this, please sign up for our Public Policy Roundup

We are also pleased to welcome a new intern to the SCG public policy team, Sean Tan. Sean is a Master’s in Public Policy (MPP) candidate at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, where his academic focus areas include immigration, criminal justice reform, and urban and social policies.

SCG is joining the United Way of Greater Los Angeles in asking you to put on your walking shoes and gather on November 18 at Grand Park for HomeWalk 2017, an annual 5K family run/walk to end homelessness in LA County. Since 2011, the cross-sector initiative Home for Good has helped house over 40,000 of our homeless neighbors. However, there are still nearly 57,000 people on our streets on any given night. 

SCG staff and leadership are proud to support the efforts of our longtime member organization United Way, and we invite you to join us at this year's HomeWalk, either as part of Team SCG or with a team of your own.

Don't forget to register today. We hope to see you there!


Here are some additional SCG events we've hosted in the past few weeks:

  • At the Innovation in Health Care Delivery Systems program, we heard from health care professionals leading efforts to address emergency room overcrowding and bridge the gap between housing and health care services for homeless patients.
  • We teamed up with Funders Together to End Homelessness – Los Angeles Network for a hands-on learning exercise on Pay for Success and Impact Investing. This interactive session was designed to give participants an opportunity to experience some of the roles, conversations, and considerations that happen as part of a Pay for Success transaction.
  • SCG members joined us for a discussion about equity, justice, and access in the Evolving Environmental Movement in Southern California.
  • Co-hosted by the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region and Southern California Grantmakers, The Refugee Crisis: How Funders Can Help program provided a forum to discuss the continuing refugee crisis and how nonprofits, individuals, and the philanthropic community could respond.
  • The California Criminal Justice Funders Group convened a panel of field leaders who are creating a statewide coalition of providers of Transformative Prison Work in California's 35 prisons. 
  • At the Census 2020: Understanding the Risks and Implications of Undercounting LA’s Young Children program, members heard from experts in state government, philanthropy, and the nonprofit sector about opportunities for collaboration and strategies to reach and accurately count families with young children in the upcoming 2020 census.

As the end of the year approaches, we are not slowing down yet! SCG is busy planning programs and conferences for you for the rest of this year and into 2018.

Thank you for the heart and dedication you bring to our Southern California communities during this holiday season—and all throughout the year! 

Christine Essel
President and CEO
Southern California Grantmakers

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Takeaways from the 2017 SCG Annual Conference

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

Now that the SCG Annual Conference has come and gone, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the highlights and lessons learned from that special day. But first—to all of you who joined us at philanthropy's crossroads, we appreciate your coming to learn and engage. And to those of you who were unable to attend, please know that the conference was only the beginning. SCG will continue to deepen the ways in which we incorporate these crucial issues of intersectionality and equity across all of our work as we move forward.

This year, over 600 of our colleagues—from foundations, corporate members, and family philanthropists to government grantmakers, philanthropic consultants, friends and partners of SCG—came together for a day focusing on Philanthropy at a Crossroads. We were honored to be joined by an incredible variety of leaders and thinkers in sessions covering the arts, health, economic development, hunger, education, transgender communities, homelessness, and displacement/gentrification, not to mention special sessions on corporate philanthropy/CSR, shifting organizational culture, and powerful new demographic data to help your work. 

As I mentioned in my remarks at the conference, I believe the power of SCG is its ability to help move each of us from isolation to intersection. That's where we can think and act beyond our own specific causes to find overlaps and the benefits of working together. With everything that is going on in our region, country and world—from the wildfires sweeping our state, to the tragedy in Las Vegas, to the aftermath of the hurricanes in the Southeast and Puerto Rico—it gives me hope to see that a wave of engagement and collaboration is sweeping across philanthropy, and I am encouraged by the forward momentum that we are creating together.  

While there were so many lessons to be captured at this conference, the following are a few of the key takeaways from the day that stood out to me:

  • We must strive to embrace intersectionality and to work together on common problems. I was so inspired to hear my friend Monica Lozano, the former Chair and CEO of US Hispanic Media and the Chair of the Aspen Institute Latinos and Society Program, among the other wonderful panelists at the Morning Plenary, talk about how corporate entities can mobilize in times of crisis and operate for social good while still improve the bottom line. Monica so rightly pointed out, "there's no trade-off between the two."

Timothy Silard, President, Rosenberg Foundation (left) and Monica Lozano, Former Chair and CEO, US Hispanic Media, Inc. and Chair, Aspen Institute Latinos and Society Program (right)

  • Incorporating storytelling into our work is crucial to success of that work. Narratives link issues and communities in ways that statistics and facts cannot. As Diego Sepulveda, one of the distinguished panelists in the Storytelling and Social Movements panel in the the Afternoon Plenary said, "We will use stories to move hearts and lift minds."

(left to right) Diego Sepulveda, Interim Director, Dream Resource Center; Viet Thanh Nguyen, Professor, American Studies and Ethnicity, USC; and Dr. Ange-Marie Hancock Alfaro, Professor and Chair of Gender Studies, USC

  • We heard and appreciate your feedback. While the post-conference feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, we appreciate your ideas about things to do next time. We look forward to exploring themes about race and class, bringing in a wide spectrum of viewpoints and delving more deeply into the structures that have held us back from advancing equity. As one attendee so eloquently noted after the conference: “Our intersections, our stories, our struggles are our greatest assets. We grow and expand as a community when we can be heard, seen, love for our whole selves. From the substance to the logistics of the conference, we at SCG will always strive to raise the bar.
  • Incorporating participation and networking into the conference fosters community and collaboration. Conferences do not just have to be all work and no play. In fact, I find that so much work gets done when we are actually having fun! Nowhere was this more apparent than at the Morning Plenary, when GRAMMY-Award-winning band Quetzal and other musical guests crowd-sourced a song-writing exercise with an entire ballroom of participants, and at the Closing Reception, where we caught up with old friends and made new ones. 

Stephen Gould, Program Assistant, The California Endowment

(left to right) Janice Pober, Senior Vice President Global Corporate Social Responsibility, Sony Pictures; Matty Wilder, Senior Program Officer, The Herb Alpert Foundation; Claire Peeps, Executive Director, The Durfee Foundation

(left to right) Heather Jue Northover, Chief of Staff for the Chief Deputy Director, Department of Public Health, County of Los Angeles; Cindy Harding, Chief Deputy Director, Los Angeles County; Linda Fowells, Executive Vice President, Community Partners; Rosemary Veniegas, Senior Program Officer, California Community Foundation

Harriet Glickman (left) and Paul Vandeventer, Co-Founder, Community Partners (right)

I want to thank each and every one of our members, speakers, sponsors, and staff who made this year’s conference such an inspiring and impactful experience that took us out of our comfort zones and challenged "business as usual" in philanthropy.

Please be sure to check out our social media coverage of the conference as well as our photo albums. We are pleased to make available a number of resources, including videos of all the plenary sessions on our conference resource page (member login required). I also encourage you to download the newly-released report, Highway to Health: Life Expectancy in Los Angeles County, of which we got a glimpse at the conference, and to be on the lookout for the full Portrait of Los Angeles County report that will be released on November 29. 

Everywhere we look, our field is confronted by urgent calls to action. We can only succeed if we work together, as a community, across sectors. We're looking forward to keeping the momentum going by seeing more of you at future SCG events and at next year's conference. 

Thank you once again for working with us ahead of time to shape the conference, driving conversations throughout the day, inspiring one another, and bringing new ideas to the table. You practice community every day in a thoughtful and respectful way with a diverse group of changemakers - and we are so thankful to have you as partners.

Christine Essel
President and CEO
Southern California Grantmakers

In Response to Las Vegas: Resources for Funders

Monday, October 2, 2017

We at Southern California Grantmakers are heartbroken by the recent mass shooting that took place in Las Vegas and by all senseless acts of violence. 

We remain committed to providing resources for funders to take action. 

In addition, we encourage all our members and other funders to share with us any resources or recommendations for dealing with tragedies and disasters of this sort. 


Disaster and Emergency Response Resources for Funders:


Resources for Traumatic Events in the Workplace:


Statements from the Community


President's Message - August 2017

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Dear Colleagues, 

As I watch the news—from yesterday’s DACA announcement, to the ongoing hurricane recovery efforts in Texas, to the continuing impact of Charlottesville—I’m filled with renewed resolve. Seeing neighbors helping neighbors and strangers alike in Texas gives me reason to hope that we can as a society live up to the promise of the American ideal that all men (and women) are created equal. Like all of you, I was appalled by the racism-fueled violence perpetuated by the KKK, Neo-Nazis, and similar groups that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia this past month. That's why, in response to Charlottesville, I joined the leaders of Northern California Grantmakers and San Diego Grantmakers in condemning hatred, embracing diversity, and working toward just communities across the country. You can read our message, along with statements from national philanthropy leaders and a compilation of resources and action steps for funders, here. Then just yesterday, our three associations joined together again to stand against the administration’s DACA decision, as you can read in our statement . 

Many of us wanted to believe that the forces of racism and hatred in American culture had weakened and died out long ago. Charlottesville was a stark reminder that this is not the case, and that philanthropy has its work cut out for itself to speak up, speak out, and take action right now against all forms of intolerance and violence. As ordinary people in Texas are showing in their response to the tragic flooding, we can treat each other with respect and dignity. This gives me hope, but hope doesn’t mean that we close our eyes or stay quiet. And California, where we pride ourselves on having an incredible array of diverse communities, is not immune. This year, Southern Poverty Law Center shared that our state ranks number one in hate groups in the nation, with a shocking 79 active hate groups. Now more than ever, the philanthropy community needs to be creative, collaborative, and brave.

I hope you will join us at the Annual Conference on September 26 to think broadly about how your work can help build a more just, equitable world. You can also join a livestream of Northern California Grantmakers' September 12 program on fighting intolerance. Please continue reading below for more on the conference and other learning opportunities and news from the SCG community. 

Philanthropy California (an initiative of Northern California Grantmakers, San Diego Grantmakers, and Southern California Grantmakers) joins our partners in philanthropy, advocates, and immigrant communities in standing against yesterday's decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). The decision to rescind DACA threatens the well-being of thousands of our young people who have relied on this program for safety and stability. California alone has over 200,000 DACA recipients – more than any other state. To learn more about what you can do, join the webinar Dreams in Limbo: A Look at the Future of DACA, Young Immigrants, and How Funders Can Respond hosted by our partner Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR) and co-sponsored by NCG, SDG, and SCG on Thursday, September 14, 2017 at 1:00 pm PST. You can also visit GCIR’s website for the latest updates and recommendations. Read Philanthropy California's full statement here.

Over the past week, we've all been closely following the devastation and disaster response efforts taking place in Texas and Louisiana following Hurricane Harvey. There are a variety of resources available to funders interested in supporting relief efforts, and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy and United Philanthropy Forum have some of the most comprehensive lists for philanthropy, including response funds and vetted national and local nonprofits working on the ground. 

Closer to home, several service providers have taken action. Among them is the LA-based organization Team Rubicon, which deployed highly-trained units of military veterans from across the nation with first responders to aid in rescue work across Houston and surrounding areas. In addition, Santa Barbara-based SCG member Direct Relief has been highly active in the areas impacted by Harvey's destruction. To learn more about how funders can be responsive and effective in the face of natural disasters, I encourage you to join the SCG program coming up next week on Philanthropy's New Role in Responding to Humanitarian Needs. During this 9/14 session, we'll explore how philanthropy can respond to crises around the world, including a special look at how funders are supporting communities impacted by Harvey (more details later in this message). 

SCG's 2017 Annual Conference, Philanthropy at a Crossroads, is happening in just a few short weeks! We are nearly at capacity, so please make sure to register as soon as possible to secure your spot.

You'll have access to an incredible variety of leaders and thinkers in sessions covering the arts, health, economic development, hunger, education, transgender communities, homelessness, and displacement/gentrification, not to mention special sessions on corporate philanthropy/CSR, how to shift organizational culture, and powerful new demographic data to help your work in SoCal communities. Join more than 500 of your philanthropic colleagues to hear from these thought leaders and many more changemakes in our region!

>> Check out the agenda
>> Learn about speakers
>> Read about plenaries, breakouts, and performances

>> Register now

Special thanks to our Presenting Sponsors: Annenberg Foundation, California Community Foundation, and The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation. You can see all of our generous sponsors here.

SCG corporate members and members of LA Community Leaders are invited to a special joint reception next week in downtown Los Angeles at the Hilton Checkers rooftop. This will be a great opportunity to reconnect with corporate colleagues and strengthen your professional network. At the reception, we'll be honoring SCG Board Member Antonio Manning, former Vice President and Senior Relationship Manager of JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Jonathan Weedman, former Senior Vice President of the Wells Fargo Foundation. 

Join us in celebrating Antonio Manning (left) and Jonathan Weedman.

For decades, Antonio and Jonathan have been leaders in our region’s corporate philanthropy sector, and they have been friends and mentors to many SCG and LACL members! Join us in thanking them for their service to our community as grantmakers and celebrating their new roles working directly in the nonprofit sector. This reception is open only to the corporate community. Register online here.


The Funders Alliance of San Bernardino & Riverside Counties and SCG invite you to experience the realities of life in the City of San Bernardino and the larger Inland Empire. Not long ago, San Bernardino was an All-American city with prosperous people and a robust civic infrastructure. The Recession tipped the city into bankruptcy and one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country, but even before the Great Recession, San Bernardino was struggling with public safety issues and high unemployment. How did this decline happen? Our tour will outline the extent of San Bernardino’s challenges and introduce you to nonprofit and civic leaders who are confronting and overcoming issues impacting quality of life in this region. These leaders are San Bernardino’s core assets, who are starting and revitalizing organizations and institutions—and doing so with significantly less philanthropic support than in neighboring cities. Register for the funder tour now.

From natural disasters to wars, the philanthropic sector is being called upon to respond to an overwhelming frequency, scale, and magnitude of humanitarian emergencies here and abroad. Funders who focus on disaster preparedness and response, international issues, and environmental challenges are invited to join a 9/14 discussion with Shaheen Kassim-Lakha from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and Thomas Tighe from Direct Relief. We'll explore a study commissioned by the Hilton Foundation that outlines opportunities for grantmakers to catalyze meaningful change in the current humanitarian landscape and insights into how philanthropy can respond in a coordinated and holistic way. You’ll walk away with actionable lessons that funders of any size can apply here at home (particularly in the wake of Hurricane Harvey's devastating impact) and around the globe. Register now.


SCG members recently joined Congresswoman Linda Sanchez in Pico Rivera for a grant workshop—with over 90 nonprofits in attendance—which provided attendees with a funder perspective on designing and awarding grants. SCG members Ellah Ronen (California Community Foundation), Eric Medina (Weingart Foundation), Julie Lytle Nesbit (Whittier Trust), and Suzanne McGarry (BCM Foundation) shared their insights on a panel moderated by Congresswoman Sanchez. After the panel, the Center for Nonprofit Management led a robust discussion on grant strategies with the organizations in the room. 

Left to right: Michelle Ito, SCG; Seyron Foo, SCG; Ellah Ronen, California Community Foundation; Suzanne McGarry, BCM Foundation; Rep. Linda Sanchez; Julie Lytle Nesbit, Whittier Trust; and Eric Medina, Weingart Foundation.

We are thrilled to be part of programs like this, which help SCG members build relationships with policymakers throughout the region and strengthen the work of our nonprofit partners. In other policy news, SCG members are invited to join the next event in our Public Policy Speaker Series, featuring a conversation with California State Senator Ricardo Lara on 9/20.


Last month, SCG members joined a special summer celebration at Levitt Pavilion Los Angeles in MacArthur Park. After a private, pre-concert reception, we enjoyed a lively performance by the Latin fusion band Buyepongo. This event was made possible by the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation and held in partnership with Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy and Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy. Special thanks to Elizabeth Levitt Hirsch for another wonderful summertime opportunity to socialize with friends and colleagues!

Left to right: Amanda Byrd, SCG; Elizabeth Levitt Hirsch, Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation; Chris Essel, SCG. Next photo: Buyepongo performs in MacArthur Park.


Here are some highlights from recent SCG events:

I hope to see you at these upcoming events:


Alex Atienzo (left) and Bethanie Milteer.

And finally, I'd like to welcome two of our newest staff members: Alex Atienzo and Bethanie Milteer. Alex and Bethanie are supporting SCG programs and conferences, and are already indispensable members of the SCG team! To learn more about our staff, click here

Christine Essel
President and CEO
Southern California Grantmakers

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Philanthropy California Statement on DACA

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Dear Colleagues, 

Philanthropy California joins our partners in philanthropy, advocates, and immigrant communities in standing against today’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). Our nation is built on the ideals of freedom, fairness, and prosperity, and we are stronger when everyone has the opportunity to thrive. DACA was a first step in fulfilling our nation’s promise to thousands of young immigrants – giving them the opportunity to learn, work, and, more importantly, contribute to the nation that they call home.   
The decision to rescind DACA threatens the lives of countless young people who are contributing to the economic growth and success of the country and reneges on a promise that was made to them. Hundreds of thousands of young immigrants have relied on DACA for safety and stability. California alone has over 200,000 DACA recipients – more than any other state.      
Rescinding DACA contradicts a fundamental tenet of philanthropy – to advance the social good.  Philanthropy California is committed to advancing solutions to ensure that the nearly 800,000 immigrants who successfully enrolled in DACA and the many more who are eligible to do so can continue to live, work, and learn in safety. In light of today’s announcement, we urge policymakers to develop a solution that protects these young people and upholds our nation’s promise of freedom, fairness, and prosperity for all.  
To learn more about what you can do, we invite you to join the webinar Dreams in Limbo: A Look at the Future of DACA, Young Immigrants, and How Funders Can Respond hosted by our partner Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR) and co-sponsored by SCG, NCG, and SDG on Thursday, September 14, 2017 at 1:00 pm PST. We also recommend that you refer to GCIR’s website for the latest updates and recommendations.


Christine Essel
President & CEO
Southern California Grantmakers

Nancy Jamison
President & CEO
San Diego Grantmakers    

Ellen LaPointe
President & CEO
Northern California Grantmakers    

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Reflecting on Charlottesville: A Statement from Philanthropy California

Monday, August 14, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

Like all of you, we are appalled by the displays of racism-fueled violence perpetuated by the KKK, Neo-Nazis, and similar groups that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia this weekend. We want to reiterate to our members across California that in the face of such deeply disturbing intolerance, our organizations stand together in condemning hatred, embracing diversity, and working toward just, equitable communities.

There are several statements from the social sector about the events in Charlottesville including Dr. Bob Ross, President and CEO of The California Endowment; Advancement ProjectFunders for LGBTQ IssuesNational Center for Responsive Philanthropy; and Vu Le.

There is much work to be done, and we welcome your thoughts and ideas about how philanthropy can be part of the solution. Thank you for everything you do to ensure ALL of our community members have the safety, support, and opportunity to thrive in our country.


Chris Essel, President and CEO, Southern California Grantmakers
Nancy Jamison, President, San Diego Grantmakers
Ellen LaPointe, President and CEO, Northern California Grantmakers

Resources for Philanthropy:



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President's Message - July 2017

Friday, August 4, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

The SCG team and I recently returned from a truly inspiring convening with peers from funder associations across the country. Formerly known as the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, SCG's longtime membership in this national network has allowed us to bring our own members the best ideas, strategies, and tools from our association peers. I am happy to share with you that this network—with the newly minted name United Philanthropy Forum—is expanding beyond regional groups to include an array of national philanthropy-serving organizations (PSOs), such as the Center for Effective Philanthropy and Funders Together to End Homelessness. So, what does the new Forum mean for you? It means SCG is now able to bring our members not only rich regional knowledge and best practices, but also an incredible breadth and depth of issue expertise from our national PSO partners. I was honored to co-chair the Forum’s Vision Design Group that led this expansion, along with Kathleen Enright of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations. And with SCG's own Vice President of Operations and Government Relations Karen Freeman continuing her leadership role as Board Treasurer, it’s thrilling to see the "new" Forum come to fruition.

This moment of philanthropic collaboration is also reflected in the just released NonProfit Times "Power & Influence Top 50" list, which I’m honored to say includes me and several of our national partner organizations again this year (more detail below). As we strengthen our connections—our networks of networks—and break down silos with government and nonprofit partners, our sector has an unprecedented opportunity to leverage shared strengths and promote real community solutions and systems change on crucial issues. I believe this is an opportunity for all of us to be “radically collaborative” leaders—locally, statewide, regionally, and across the country—and I’m eager to see what we will accomplish as we continue this journey together!  

Please continue reading below for more on the SCG team's experiences at United Philanthropy Forum, and for exciting updates on our events and services. 

In This Post: 

SCG Annual Conference Early Bird Ends 8/18  /   Nonprofit Times Power & Influence Top 50   / SCG at National Philanthropy Convening   /   SCG Member Collaborative Drives Progress on Government Cost Reimbursement to Nonprofits   /   Join SCG and Partners in Opposing to AB 1250  /  Fundamentals of Effective Grantmaking  /  Program Round-Up  /  Looking Ahead


In philanthropy, we work across an incredible spectrum of issue areas, but much of what we do boils down to access to opportunity. Opportunity for an excellent education. A healthy life. Fulfilling work. Cultural enrichment. In this way, our sector shares an underlying value of inclusivity, as we work toward ensuring every child and family has access to opportunities to grow, prosper, and thrive. So how can we utilize this common language of opportunity to increase our impact and empower our grantees to be as effective as possible? To find out, register now for our 2017 Annual Conference, Philanthropy at a Crossroads. Make sure to get the early bird discount by registering before Friday, August 18! 

In one of our featured plenaries, an all-star panel of community leaders and thinkers—including Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen—will share how they have each sought to change the narrative for the communities in which they work. We'll also take a broader look at how social movements and public policies intersect to reveal unlikely partners and create more inclusive conditions for civic and political participation.

Our closing plenary features: Ange-Marie Hancock Alfaro, Professor, Political Science and Gender Studies, USC; Funmilola Fagbamila, Playwright, Activist & Professor, Pan African Studies, Cal State LA; Marisa Franco, Director & Co-founder, Mijente; and Viet Thanh Nguyen, Author and Professor, American Studies and Ethnicity, USC

Special thanks to our Presenting Sponsors: Annenberg Foundation, California Community Foundation, and The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation!  Visit our conference site to learn more about speakers and special performances, and to register now. 


I am honored to share that The NonProfit Times has named me and several other SCG strategic partners among the top 50 nonprofit executives in the country. The “Power & Influence Top 50” are chosen for their ability to balance sustainability and change, and I'm humbled to be included again in a list of philanthropy and nonprofit leaders that I admire so greatly.

When I traveled to Washington, DC last year for a gathering of the 2016 cohort of "Top 50" leaders, I was proud to represent Southern California philanthropy among such notable national figures. I believe this year's recognition once again reflects the bold path our SCG community has taken together to strengthen our sector and region. I'd like to thank you all for your individual and collaborative leadership, which is clearly having an impact here in Southern California and well beyond!


As I shared above, the SCG team and I recently traveled to San Francisco for the 2017 United Philanthropy Forum Conference, the biggest gathering of regional and national philanthropy-supporting organizations in the field. I believe this new and unique kind of network is not only relevant for today’s philanthropy sector, but essential to increasing impact in our communities. Together, we can be a more formidable force here in Southern California and throughout the country. After all, our resources and connections now cut across geography, issue areas, and political divides. Your SCG membership connects you to more than 7,000 funders in the Forum network, who each bring an incredible array of knowledge and expertise to the table. 

Chris Essel and SCG team members Seyron Foo, Dave Sheldon, Adele Lee, Karen Freeman, and Rachel Doria

Throughout the conference, a theme emerged around the growing national movement in philanthropy to advance racial equity, diversity, and inclusion—and the exciting potential for organizations like SCG to play a role in this work. From the opening plenary to the closing luncheon, our conversations often came back to two questions. What can philanthropy do to improve equity, and how can we get there together? Opening speaker and Harvard Professor David Williams stressed the importance of philanthropy partnering with others to help build awareness of, and public support for, the need to address racial inequalities. This was echoed by Dr. Robert Ross, President and CEO of The California Endowment (and SCG member), who gave us this call to action: "Whatever you're doing to engage young people, double it. If you're not doing anything, start." I also took to heart the address delivered by SCG member and President and CEO of The California Wellness Foundation, Judy Belk, who stressed: “If you don't have actions behind the voice, all you have is noise.”

With so many luminaries in our field encouraging us to be fearless, get organized, and take action with our unique resources, the SCG team and I returned home more energized than ever to continue this effort. Equity has been a thread through much of SCG's work, including last year's Annual Conference and this year's gathering coming up in September, as well as through our programming, advocacy, and public policy efforts. I believe that in order to create real change in this area, we must engage not only with colleagues in philanthropy, but also with leaders from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, and with less-often-heard community voices. The SCG team and I are excited to help raise up Southern California as a leader in this growing equity movement. 


As part of SCG’s work to support a healthy nonprofit ecosystem, we recently concluded a year-long initiative to educate California state government and local officials about new federal contracting rules on indirect cost reimbursement, known as the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Uniform Guidance. You can read the report from our partner California Strategies regarding our work in leading this collaborative effort in and beyond our sector.

SCG served as the fiscal sponsor and project manager for this initiative, which was funded by the Weingart Foundation, Annenberg Foundation, PIMCO Foundation, California Community Foundation, and The James Irvine Foundation. This flexible structure enabled us to coordinate between funders and partners including CalNonprofits and the California State Association of Counties, and provided a platform for me and other leaders of this initiative to meet personally with the State Controller. As a result, the Controller issued a letter to local governments about compliance with these rules so that our nonprofit partners can be reimbursed for their indirect costs. Additionally, following the report's recommendations, Weingart, SCG, the California State Association of Counties, and CalNonprofits are co-sponsoring an implementation training/dialogue for county and nonprofit leaders on 8/24 in Riverside County. I encourage you to contact your grantees to attend! 

Please note: SCG currently has several fiscal sponsorship initiatives in progress with our members. We provide a variety of services such as administration and office support, payroll, insurance coverage, and passthrough of tax-deductible donations to non-exempt organizations. Feel free to contact Karen Freeman, Vice President of Operations and Government Relations, for more information about SCG’s ability to serve as fiscal sponsor for member projects that are consistent with our mission and organizational goals.

SCG recently joined United Ways of California, the County of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, California Association of Nonprofits, and more than 60 organizations in opposing Assembly Bill (AB) 1250 (Jones-Sawyer). The bill would impose significant obstacles for counties to partner with nonprofits in delivering crucial services to California communities, particularly in the health and human services arena. As written, AB 1250 would interrupt thriving partnerships between government and the private sector and burden nonprofits with onerous, non-reimbursable overhead costs like performance audits. To read our letter of opposition, click here.

In other news, our most recent Public Policy Roundup went out to members this week. The policy team and I are thrilled to provide this valuable monthly briefing to so many SCG members interested in how their work intersects with public policy. Members can sign up for this benefit here or view the latest Roundup here.


Philanthropy has its own language, challenges, and ways of doing business that are unique from any other sector. So how can you hit the ground running with all the skills and knowledge you need to ensure your philanthropic career and your organization thrive? SCG’s signature Fundamentals of Effective Grantmaking course is designed and taught by some of the most prominent philanthropy leaders in our region, providing knowledge and connections for an unparalleled professional development opportunity. 

This interactive, three-day series (October 11, 12 & 26, as well as a site visit the week of October 16) introduces foundation staff to core grantmaking skills and procedures and provides opportunities to interact with new and veteran colleagues in our community during a series of engaging sessions. For more information and to register now, click here.


Here are some highlights from recent SCG events:


I hope to see you at these upcoming events:

Thank you to all of our members and partners for your commitment to making our communities better in so many ways. And remember to check our News Page for the latest on SCG and philanthropy in Southern California.  

Christine Essel

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President's Message - June 2017

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Jump to: SCG Annual Conference on 9/26  /   Public Policy Update  /    New Era for
State & Local Climate Leadership
  /   Women's Health   /   Corporate Societal Engagement
Program Round-Up  /  Looking Ahead


Dear Colleagues,

As Independence Day approaches, I am reflecting on this week’s pivotal events in Washington, DC. The Supreme Court’s partial “travel ban” decision and the postponement of the healthcare vote will mean continued uncertainty for our country and our communities. Yet I also see unprecedented opportunity for philanthropy to step up and impact the many pressing issues facing those we serve. Now is the time for us to break down silos, think broadly about our issue areas, and connect with new partners within and outside our sector. That’s why on September 26th, at SCG's Annual Conference, we will focus on intersectionality as a driving force for funders to unlock impact together. I’m looking forward to a very timely discussion that offers us the potential for significant change in our region and beyond.

Keep reading below for speakers and exciting features at this year's conference. You can also check our News Page for the latest on SCG and philanthropy in Southern California.  


Registration is now open for our 2017 Annual Conference! Funders from across Southern California will gather on 9/26 in downtown LA for Philanthropy at a Crossroads: Finding Intersections for Greater Impact. This year, we will address systems change that goes beyond theory—speaking directly to the work you do every day to make a tangible difference in people’s lives. Here are some of the speakers who will be sharing their intersectional work.  

Opening performance by the band Quetzal.


Conversations with: Funmilola Fagbamila, Playwright, Activist, and Cal State LA Professor; 
Marisa Franco, Director and Co-Founder, Mijente; and Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize
Winning Author and USC Professor

Special thanks to our Presenting Sponsors: California Community Foundation and The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation! Click here to learn more about sponsorship opportunities. Visit our conference site to learn more about speakers and special performances, and to register now!


Earlier this month, the California State Legislature adopted a budget containing $31 million for a foster care initiative modeled on an LA County pilot that grew out of our members’ work. The Emergency Child Care Bridge Program for Foster Children & Parenting Foster Youth provision in the state budget includes funding for emergency vouchers for foster families to access child care, navigators to assist with accessing long-term child care, and training for child care providers on how to best meet the needs of abused and neglected children.

This $31 million state budget fund emerged as a result of efforts last year led by LA County with strong support from SCG. The success of this public-private partnership around this pilot program in LA County led to an informative body of data, which persuaded lawmakers to adopt a statewide program. The pilot originated from Los Angeles County’s Department of Children and Family Services, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, W.M. Keck Foundation, and First 5 – Los Angeles. These SCG member organizations funded and implemented this pilot project, which serves as a great example of the catalytic role that philanthropy can play in informing, shaping, and adopting public policy.

In addition to supporting efforts related to foster youth, SCG joined organizations across the state to request the State Legislature and Governor Brown to increase funding for the After School Education and Safety Program. State funding had not been increased for more than a decade and with rising costs to operate these programs, many nonprofits serving youth were threatened with fiscal deficits. With so many of SCG members’ already providing grants to support these organizations, SCG joined organizations across the state to help ensure an additional $50 million in the state budget for after school programs.
Finally, our new iteration of the Public Policy Roundup went out to members yesterday. I’m so excited to see so many SCG members interested in public policy. Members can sign up for this benefit here or view the Roundup here.


In partnership with The Trust for Public Land, SCG held a lunchtime discussion on June 23rd about how to create more equitable, healthy, and climate resilient communities. Kevin de León, Senate President Pro Tem, and Tom Steyer, environmental activist and philanthropist, addressed California’s unique responsibility to lead the nation on this topic. The conversation was moderated by Mary Creasman, California Director of Government Affairs at The Trust for Public Land, and focused on the importance of investing in our climate future, spurring the economy through the creation of green jobs, and caring for the health and livelihoods of our communities.

Mary Creasman, California Director of Government Affairs, The Trust for Public Land; Kevin de León, Senate President Pro Tem; and Tom Steyer, statewide environmental activist and philanthropist.


In the current political climate, we are facing the possibility of significant funding cuts and limitations to women’s access to health care services. This month, funders came together to explore how reductions in health care impact low-income women—many of whom already struggle to access quality, affordable health care. Jessica Yellin, former Chief White House Correspondent, moderated a discussion about what’s at stake with a panel of leading experts: Susan Dunlap, Planned Parenthood Los Angeles; Debra Farmer, Westside Family Health Center; Dr. Barbara Ferrer, LA County Department of Public Health; Laura Jiménez, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice; and Surina Khan, Women’s Foundation of California. This program was co-hosted by The Atlas Family Foundation, The California Endowment, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, and the Women’s Foundation of California. For resources from this convening, click here (members only). 



Earlier this month, SCG corporate members joined an interactive learning lab led by FSG about how to develop and implement effective corporate societal engagement strategies. The FSG team facilitated a series of activities around practical strategy planning tools to refine the strategic intent of CSR portfolios, articulate specific societal impact goals aligned with business priorities, and strengthen approaches to local giving. Attendees discussed questions, strategies, and opportunities for corporate giving and impact given the current political and societal context.

Corporate members explore impact models in an SCG learning lab led by FSG.


Here are some highlights from recent SCG events:


I hope to see you at these upcoming events:

Thank you for your interest in Southern California philanthropy and your continued commitment to serving our communities!

Christine Essel
President and CEO
Southern California Grantmakers

President's Message - May 2017

Monday, June 5, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

The past several weeks have been full of international upheaval, including the vicious attacks in London and Manchester, Kabul, and even in Portland, as well as major shifts in the US stance on NATO and the Paris Climate Accord. During this time I had the unusual opportunity to watch some of these events unfold while traveling in Europe and Russia, and I know they struck close to home for many of our friends and family around the world. I also recognize these issues are the same ones that occupy our hearts and minds as grantmakers here in Southern California. How can we build a civil society where everyone has opportunities to thrive in peace and security?
Today, it’s more important than ever for us to work together—within and beyond the philanthropy sector—to find intersections where different strategies and focus areas can strengthen each other's work. When considering any number of issues, from global security to immigration and refugees, from poverty to the impacts of climate change, we need to see the connections across our work in order to create long-term, sustainable solutions. This is why we chose intersectionality as the theme for SCG's 2017 Annual Conference: Philanthropy at a Crossroads - Finding Intersections for Greater Impact. Please mark your calendars for Tuesday, September 26 and keep reading below for more details on the conference and other initiatives where SCG members are leading the way. You can also check our News Page for the latest on SCG and philanthropy in Southern California.


In philanthropy, many of us are grappling with how to make a tangible impact as we work to address complex problems and engage with overlapping communities, social movements, and collaborative efforts currently at play in our society. Does seeking impact mean that we need to focus narrowly, staying in our separate silos despite the true complexity of the issues we’re trying to solve? Or can we find collaborative ways to look at these challenges with a sense of untapped potential and opportunity?

Save the date for this year's Annual Conference on 9/26 in downtown LA, where we'll tackle the idea of intersectionality as a driving force for funders to unlock impact together. Explore many of the strategies and opportunities open to funders of all stripes as we work to support equitable, thriving communities in Southern California and far beyond. Join us to start making connections about how ethnicity, gender, economic background, and other factors affect vulnerable people, and how our philanthropy can become a powerful force to advance equity in the communities that need it most. Special thanks to our Gold Sponsors: Disney, Weingart Foundation, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. Click here to learn more about sponsorship opportunities.


Philanthropy California, in partnership with Nonprofit Finance Fund, is excited to announce the next phase of the Full Cost Project! This initiative allows funders and grantees to better understand what it truly costs to deliver outcomes—and how to incorporate a Full Cost framework into your work. Our statewide effort grew out of exchanges across the state delivered through Philanthropy California (a collaborative effort of Northern California Grantmakers, Southern California Grantmakers, and San Diego Grantmakers). These conversations helped us to articulate the idea behind a movement that has been steadily gaining prominence in our field: by changing the way grantmakers fund nonprofits right now, we can fundamentally improve their ability to achieve our shared goals. We hope you will participate in upcoming workshops around the state (see details on SoCal programs here), and check out resources and news on our Full Cost Project website.


On the heels of our largest ever delegation to Capitol Hill, we joined with our Northern California Grantmakers and San Diego Grantmakers colleagues for Philanthropy California's first ever joint Philanthropy in the State Capitol visit. Staff and members from across our organizations gathered in Sacramento to build relationships with state legislators as well as other executive offices. During our trip, we met with Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Léon, Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes, Assembly Member Monique Limón (Chair, Assembly Select Committee on the Nonprofit Sector), the Office of Emergency Services, and staff members from more than 15 elected offices. In these meetings, SCG members conveyed the role that funders can play as thought partners in public policy development and demonstrated how philanthropic investments can transform lives and affect systems change. We're proud to support our members in their work to inform public policy choices that have a lasting and positive impact in our communities! 

Ryan Ginard, SDG; Karen Freeman, SCG; Jonathan Lorenzo Yorba, Ford Fellows Fund; Megan Thomas, SDG; Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes; Christine Essel, SCG; Zahirah Mann, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation; Seyron Foo, SCG.

Our visit to Sacramento coincided with another program on which we were proud to partner: the first ever Philanthropy and Public Policy Institute, spearheaded by the Women’s Foundation of California. SCG participants in the Institute joined funders from across the state to learn the ins and outs of policy advocacy work, meet with policymakers, and hear from advocates about on-the-ground strategies. Congratulations to the Women's Foundation of California on this highly successful event! 

Institute participants: Elizabeth Anderson, City of Santa Monica; Sachi Yoshi, East Bay Community Foundation; Elizabeth Scharetg, City of Santa Monica; Gretchen Sandler, Women’s Foundation of California; Nikki Uyen Dinh, Blue Shield of California Foundation; Elena Chavez Quezada, Walter and Elsie Haas Fund; Peggy Chang, Heising-Simons Foundation; Jamilah Bradshaw, The California Endowment; Karla Mercado, SCG; Bernadette Glenn, WHH Foundation; Tuly Martinez,SCG; Emily Katz, NCG; Sonia Gonzales, California Bar Foundation.

These are just a handful of the opportunities available for SCG members to learn about and engage in public policy. Get the latest policy news from a philanthropy perspective with SCG Legislative Updates, including a new analysis of the recommended budget for LA County.

You can also join us in July at the Forum of Regional Associations' PolicyWorks Institute, a national training taking place in San Francisco, which aims to strengthen philanthropy's policy and advocacy work. Contact Seyron Foo to learn more.


In May, SCG's 2017 Family Philanthropy Conference: Trusting Values / Navigating Disruption brought together more than 100 family philanthropy leaders to connect, build relationships, and learn from one another. The day's keynotes by Jan Jaffe and Henry Berman, as well as member-led breakouts, all reinforced a key idea: as long as we are guided by our values, we can use disruption as an opportunity to foster personal and organizational growth, consider new ideas and collaborations, or reevaluate goals and strategies. Read our key takeawayscheck out photos on Facebook, and access resources from conference sessions (members only). 

Mashanda Lazarus, Satterberg Foundation; Sylia Obagi, The Generative Group; Susan Block, JMC Philanthropic Advisors; Jeff Schaffer, The Atlas Family Foundation; Bernadette Glenn, WHH Foundation.

We are also excited to announce two special discounts for SCG members through our partnership with the National Center for Family Philanthropy. In addition to free access to monthly NCFP webinars, SCG family foundations can now take advantage of these benefits:



Here are some additional SCG events we've held in the past few weeks:

  • SCG members joined an exclusive funders' tour at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory followed by a dinner at CalTech to explore Making California’s Policies Stronger with Science.
  • SCG, the National Council of Nonprofits, CalNonprofits, and Exponent Philanthropy convened their members to learn how best to achieve Great Funder-Nonprofit Relationships.
  • SCG, SDG, and NCG members joined an interactive webinar on how new statewide data can increase equity and access to arts education across the state.
  • SCG members joined a funders' learning tour of Lancaster State Prison to explore how the Insight Garden Program builds communication and wellness while reducing recidivism rates.
  • Philanthropy California, CalNonprofits, and the League of CA Community Foundations co-hosted a webinar on the future of immigration, health care, and charitable tax policy at the federal level.



I hope to see you at these upcoming events:


Last but not least, I’d like to take a moment to congratulate our Public Policy Intern, Michelle Ito. Michelle has been contributing tremendously to the work of our public policy team since she joined us in January while completing her degree at Occidental College. She graduated last month and was selected from a highly competitive nationwide pool of applicants as a 2017-8 California Executive Fellow! Starting this fall, she will serve in offices at various levels of the state's executive branch, including the office of the governor and cabinet secretaries. In the meantime, we are fortunate that Michelle will continue working with us on policy analysis through the summer. Congratulations Michelle! 

And, as always, thank you all for engaging with our Southern California philanthropy community!

Christine Essel
President and CEO
Southern California Grantmakers


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2017 Family Philanthropy Conference Recap & Takeaways

Thursday, May 25, 2017


SCG's 2017 Family Philanthropy Conference: Trusting Values / Navigating Disruption brought together more than 100 family philanthropy leaders to connect, build relationships, and learn from one another. The focus of this year's conference was timely for those feeling keenly aware of increasing stress and chaos in our world, so the day's sessions were a helpful reminder that disruption is nothing new in history, nor is it intrinsically bad! As long as we are guided by our values, disruption can lead to personal and organizational growth, as well as new ideas, collaborations, and opportunities to reevaluate goals. Our keynote speakers Jan Jaffe and Henry Berman also reinforced how family philanthropy faces many challenges that cannot be fixed with technical solutions, so we will always need values to guide our work and strategy.

Keep reading below for some of the lessons learned and action steps you can take to ground your philanthropy in values, better navigate disruption, and thrive as individuals, families, and organizations. You can also check out photos on Facebook and access resources from conference sessions (members only).


L to R: Annie Hernandez, Frieda C. Fox Family Foundation; Hilary Kern, Art Therapist;  
Angel Roberson Daniels, The Angell Foundation; Vera de Vera, Philanthropy Leader



 ● Never confuse the essence of your philanthropy with the expression of your philanthropy. Being consistent with values doesn’t mean keeping everything the same–you can change how you do the work while staying true to guiding principles.

 ● There are external disruptions (e.g. economic, cultural, natural disasters) we can plan for, but not actually control. Many of the factors of family philanthropy are also beyond our control (death, birth of new generations, marriage/divorce). We can, however, control certain forces in our philanthropy by recognizing personal biases and “disrupting” ourselves to fix them.

 ● You can change, grow, and be responsive as a family while still avoiding “knee-jerk philanthropy” (quickly changing direction without considering values). You shouldn’t be afraid to change, but you should understand why you are changing. 


L to R: Bernadette Glenn, WHH Foundation; Aoife Maud O'Connell, Leonetti O'Connell Family Foundation; Jacqueline Chun,

The Carl and Roberta Deutsch Foundation; Nike Irvin, California Community Foundation & SCG Board of Directors


 ● Engaging in organizational change (creating more teamwork, developing a new strategic plan, improving communication, etc.) is both a challenge and opportunity. To make any one piece of your work better, you need a systemic approach that deals with the various structures and processes of your foundation while equally valuing the people that give it life and energy.

 ● Your role (or roles) is not about an official title but rather "what authorizes you to do the work." Some examples of roles are: facilitator, historian, oracle, hand holder, initiator, follower. Ask yourself what roles you need to play in order to be effective and why. On the flip side, be aware of your own skill deficits and weaknesses, and recognize how others can meet important needs.


L to R: Tammy Johnson, California Community Foundation; Casey Rogers; Eli Veitzer, Prototypes


 ● Self care is important for good mental health and should not be considered self indulgence. We cannot give to others what we do not have, so it is vital that we take care of ourselves.

 ● The work suffers if the people tasked with doing it are not grounded in values and support from the organization. Values can bring us to a place of familiarity that we can return to mentally and emotionally in order to rejuvenate commitment and leadership. 




 ● Operate under an "assumption of good will" to help you navigate interpersonal disagreements and tensions while keeping a useful level of creative tension.

 ● Use scenario planning to decide how you would react to particular situations (marriage, divorce, successions) based on your values. Just make sure to go through this process *before* the disruption happens.

 ● Become a more intentional communicator by writing down your thoughts for four minutes at the start of each day before you speak and engage with others.

L to R: Alexis Marion, Frieda C. Fox Family Foundation; David Maurer, Maurer Family Foundation (background); Pamela Cohen and Phi Lu, 

Ernest and Irma Rose Foundation; Jan McCoy Miller, Bowen H. & Janice Arthur McCoy Charitable Foundation (background); Brad Myers, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

 ● Use images, poems, or songs as a “third object” to allow you and your family and staff to look at complex issues in a different framework. E.g., "This painting of a bridge makes me think about how we need to improve our communication with grantees."

 ● Be explicit about which particular role you are stepping into at a given time as you try to lead, reinforce, inform, or connect with others. E.g., "I’m speaking as Board Treasurer right now, not as your sister."

 ● Try meditation, play, or other tools as a way to spark creativity and rejuvenate a sense of joy and satisfaction in the work.



● Take advantage of our members-only online directory to find colleagues at family foundations across Southern California.

 ● SCG family foundations have complimentary access to National Center for Family Philanthropy monthly webinars (including this program featuring SCG member Alexis Marion in June)!

Search our library for family philanthropy resources like research reports from other members, best practices, and more. 

● Participate in partnership programs with Exponent Philanthropy, whose quarterly Local Engagement Group events are designed for foundations with few or no staff. Check the SCG calendar for future meeting dates.

● Family Foundation Information Exchange (FFIX) groups provide SCG members with ongoing support and best practices through intensive discussions with peers. FFIX meets five times per year, and currently there are four FFIX groups.  Please contact Jan Kern if you are interested in learning more.

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