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October 2019 Public Policy Roundup

Publication date: 
Wednesday, October 23, 2019



With the 2020 elections around the corner, we're honing in on civic engagement strategies for philanthropy. We're also highlighting several key reports focusing on education, including funding patterns across the nation’s public colleges, student achievement levels in California’s public schools and community colleges, as well as the impact of disasters in K-12 schools. In addition, we're taking a look at issues related to housing and food insecurity, homelessness, and other resources.

Lastly, we are excited to announce the date for 2020 Foundations on the Hill, a crucial event bringing funders from across the country together to educate public policymakers! As always, we welcome any feedback or comments on this newsletter.  


Towards a Vibrant Democracy: Preparing for 2020 Elections

Wed, November 6 | 12:00PM - 1:30PM PST

With voters heading to the ballot box soon, there are many opportunities for foundations, corporations, and funders to support voter engagement and influence long-term, systems change. Learn how you can easily navigate supporting nonpartisan voter engagement from funders and nonprofits across our community to maximize the power of philanthropy in an election year – all while keeping your legal counsel satisfied!



The 2020 Election Cycle & the Nonprofit Organization 

Thurs, November 7 | 6:00PM - 8:45PM EST

In Columbia University's first workshop on their 2020 Election series, two of the foremost policy experts in the sector, Sue Santa and Sandra Swirski, joined by Steve Taylor and Nina Ozlu Tunceli, leaders in policy and advocacy from renowned 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) organizations, will address how nonprofits may harness the opportunity an election cycle presents to shape policy. 



Power Building Through Integrated Voter Engagement 

Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) released a new report, “Vote, Organize, Transform, Engage (VOTE): New Frontiers in Integrated Voter Engagement”, analyzing the lessons learned and the ongoing needs for an integrated voter engagement (IVE) strategy nationwide that focuses on engaging and motivating new and unlikely voters to stay committed in civic life.In the past decade of organizing, there have been significant policy and structural reform victories that capture the impact of IVE, which include:

  • Ballot initiatives such as Propositions 30 and 55 as it relates to education funding and 47 and 57 for criminal justice reform

  • Expanding access to health care for low-income and undocumented immigrants in Monterey County; and
  • Raising minimum wage first at the city level and then achieving a statewide minimum wage increase.


A Funder's Guide to Strengthening Democracy

The Center for High Impact Philanthropy’s (CHIP) new report, “We the People: A Philanthropic Guide to Strengthening Democracy” provides a framework through which foundations may identify areas of funding that will strengthen democratic practices and minimize polarization within the communities they seek to serve.



2020 Foundations on the Hill (FOTH)

SCG members are invited to join next year's California delegation to Foundations on the Hill (FOTH) in Washington, D.C. on March 9-11, 2020. At this multi-day event, a delegation from Philanthropy California, our alliance with Northern California and San Diego Grantmakers, will meet with Members of Congress, policymakers from the Executive Branch and national stakeholders to discuss a number of philanthropy-related policy topics, create visibility for the philanthropic sector, and strengthen our relationships. Last year, working together as Philanthropy California, we met with over 30 Members of Congress and their staff. We structure our visits so that all funders—corporate, private, and public foundations, funders, and grantmakers and others—can fully participate.


Keep your eyes out for registration in the coming months!


California Public School Closure Database

To better understand the impact natural disasters, unsafe conditions, and other emergencies have on California’s public schools, CalMatters developed the California Public School Closure Database, which provides a visual representation of the amount of instructional time public schools lose each year to different closure types including wildfires, natural disasters, student safety, and infrastructure concerns.



Patterns of Racially Inequitable Funding and Student Success in Public Post-Secondary Education 

The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS), a research, design, and advocacy organization focused on student-centered public policies that promote affordability, accountability, and equity in higher education, recently released a report examining how changes in core education revenue during and following the Great Recession, from 2006 and 2016, impacted disparities in resources across public colleges and universities and underrepresented students of color who enroll in them. Key findings of the report include:

  • Three-quarters of underrepresented students of color at public colleges in California attend community colleges where the graduation rate is (on average) only 30 percent.

  • Only eight percent of underrepresented students of color in California, attend doctoral universities where graduation rate is on average 83 percent.
  • Doctoral universities have the highest per-student revenue and serve the lowest share of underrepresented students.
  • Community colleges rely less heavily on tuition as a source of revenue than other types of colleges. For example, 20 percent of total revenue at community colleges in California comes from tuition, compared to 66 percent at doctoral universities.


Evaluating Local Implementation and Student Outcomes of California's Common Core State Standards

Almost a decade after California adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for math and English, implementation across the state's districts is still uneven. In an effort to gauge school district progress in the use of CCSS, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) conducted a survey to understand the effects of CCSS implementation on student outcomes. Results from the survey demonstrated that:

  • Most districts implemented CCSS curricula in or after the first year that the new Smarter Balanced assessments (SBAC) were administered in 2014-15.

  • While 70 percent of school districts have begun the implementation process, 30 percent have not, with rural districts being the least likely to implement the standards in high schools.
  • As of spring 2019, three-quarters of implementing districts had aligned their math curricula to the new standards, with English slightly lower at 71 percent.
  • Low-income and Latino students have slightly bigger gains in elementary and middle schools, compared to other student subgroups.

Effects of Broadening Access to Transfer-Level Courses

AB 705 required community colleges to use high school records to adequately place students in English and math courses and maximize the likelihood that students will enter and complete transfer-level coursework in these subjects within a one –year time-frame. The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), released a report on the progress community colleges are already experiencing as a result of these changes.  Results from the research demonstrate that:

  • Between 2015 and 2018, the number of first-time English students completing college composition in one term increased by 76 percent system-wide.

  • All four major racial/ethnic groups saw increases in throughput rates between 2012 and 2018.
  • Access to transfer-level courses in math have increased, however most students still start below the transfer level.


Measuring Campus Support for College Students Experiencing Food & Housing Insecurity

The California Homeless Youth Project (CHYP), has released a report analyzing the resources California’s public colleges and universities offer to students experiencing housing insecurity and homelessness such as year-round student housing and emergency housing, emergency grants and short-term loans, food resources, campus coordinated institutional responses to basic needs, and more.  Highlights of the report include

  • All UCs, 65 percent of CSUs, and 6 percent of the 50 CCCs examined, offer the possibility of year-round student housing.
  • On average, California’s public colleges and universities that do not offer year-round student housing close their housing facilities for 52 days out of the year.
  • 72 percent of California’s public universities offer campus-provided emergency housing.
  • Only one of the 50 CCCs examined offer emergency housing to their students, however many of the community colleges provide housing referrals.
  • An estimated 3 out of 10 public colleges and universities offer neither emergency grants nor short-term loans to their undergraduate student bodies.
  • 56 percent of California’s public universities have food recovery programs, while none of the 50 CCCs examined have food recovery programs.
  • 94 percent of the CCCs examined, 96 percent of CSUs, and all UCs distribute free groceries to students on a regular basis.
  • 82 percent of California’s public colleges and universities have advisors for both foster youth and students experiencing housing insecurity, and only one campus has neither.


The report also details the importance of CalFresh in helping provide long-term support to college students experiencing food insecurity, but acknowledges there is a lack of awareness and challenges in the application process that prevent students from fully utilizing the benefits of the food assistance program. Likewise, the report mentions that although a majority of state universities have access to year-round housing options, students may need to navigate complex processes, meet deadlines, pay additional fees, and must meet eligibility requirements in order to be housed during academic breaks and the summer term. Acknowledging these, and other significant obstacles, the report highlights six recommendations that will help close resource gaps and support the academic success of students from all backgrounds.


The Demographic Data Project

The National Alliance to End Homelessness has developed a series of reports titled The Demographic Data Project with data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Point-in-Time Count, to examine the rates of homelessness among different populations. The reports are divided into four categories: gender minorities, gender and individual homelessness, race and ethnicity, and the role of geography. Interesting highlights include:

  • 50 percent of all transgender people experiencing homelessness across the country, were found in California
  • White and Hispanic/Latinx individuals experiencing homelessness are significantly overrepresented in both rural and suburban communities, while Black homeless individuals continue to be overrepresented in more urban areas.
  • Homelessness rates by gender vary dramatically between states. For example, the rate for individual women in D.C is 34.4 percent, which is almost double the rate for California at 19.9 percent.


Health Conditions Among Unsheltered Adults

In an effort to learn more about the vulnerabilities of unsheltered individuals and how they differ from individuals in shelters, the California Policy Lab set forth a policy brief analyzing and comparing the health conditions of both groups. The policy brief reinforces the importance of stable housing as a social determinant of health and as essential for ending homelessness.



Recommendations on Ways to Improve How Government Fund Nonprofits

The Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF), a nonprofit and Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), has highlighted six suggestions on how nonprofits and government funders can work together to improve funding and contracting practices so that more organizations can achieve better outcomes while increasing their resiliency. 

  1. Shift From a “Charity Mindset” to a Nonprofit Business Mindset
  2. Acknowledge and Pay for the Full Cost of what it takes to Achieve Outcomes
  3. Make Sure Staff Can Afford to Live Where They Work
  4. Level the Playing Field Between Contracts for Nonprofits Versus Anyone Else
  5. Pay Nonprofits On Time
  6. Let Nonprofits Use Debt Strategically, and Not to Bridge Reimbursement Delays.


Child Welfare Policy Roundtable: Unaccompanied Immigrant Children & Youth

October’s Child Welfare Policy Roundtable, co-hosted by Children Now and the Assembly Foster Care Select Committee, focused on current immigration detention and deportation systems for children and youth. Panelists discussed the challenges facing undocumented foster youth, identified the needs of undocumented foster youth, and explained the process unaccompanied children face when placed in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). Speakers represented the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Children’s Law Center of California, Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, and Crittenton Services for Children and Families. Funders interested in learning more about foster youth trauma and resilience can view the resources below:












Funding Issue Area & Geographic Regions
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