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Southern California Funders' Discussion on COVID-19 - April 16: Resources

Publication date: 
Thursday, April 16, 2020

The purpose of the Weekly Calls is to create a platform through which funders in Southern California can share how they are responding to COVID-19, collectively identify unmet needs, help funders connect and align with one another, and discover how SCG can support your work. 


•  Ryan Easterly, Executive Director, WITH Foundation
•    Joanna Jackson, Vice President, Programs, Weingart Foundation
•    Shane Murphy Goldsmith, President and CEO, Liberty Hill Foundation
•    Carolyn Wang Kong, Chief Program Director, Blue Shield of California Foundation








Weingart Foundation
Joanna Jackson, Vice President, Programs, Weingart Foundation

  • Mission: Weingart Foundation is focused on advancing racial, social, and economic justice throughout Southern California and funds in 5 counties. The primary grant strategy is providing unrestricted operating support to strengthen the capacity and effectiveness of nonprofit organizations that are working towards equity and justice. 
  • What Grantees are Saying:: There are capacity needs in terms of infrastructure, staff, technological, and development needs. People of color-led and serving organizations are working at the intersection of economic and racial inequity due to the same historical lack of investment in their communities and those that they serve. They are not necessarily in a strong financial position to navigate this crisis effectively. Many of these organizations have intentionally built their leadership from within their communities and holding the needs of clients and staff is a big challenge. Advocacy organizations are having to step up as service providers and respond to the immediate needs of their clients and members with food and financial assistance. Traditional service providers are seeing the importance of stepping into the advocacy space to protect the safety net and ensure it continues to serve those who are most vulnerable. 
  • Community Needs: There is a need for help in creating a regional network and collaborative response in communities. Many are financially concerned with their strained staff, especially those that are led by or are serving immigrant, undocumented communities, and communities of color. Many are also worried about having access to trauma and mental health support for clients and staff. There are technology needs as staff transition to remote work and the need for trainings on best practices on how to use technology to be creative and innovative at this time. 
  • Foundation Response: The Weingart Foundation has used a two-phased approach. The first phase was the emergency rapid response of allocating $2 million that was focused on immediate relief. It was given to individuals that would be disproportionately burdened by the impact of the crisis. This included people experiencing homelessness, undocumented individuals, the working poor, and people of color facing unemployment. That strategy was focused on getting the funds out rapidly but also leveraging through collaborative funds and partnerships throughout our 5 counties and region. The second phase is ongoing and is the current core grantmaking strategy of unrestricted grant operating support. The Weingart foundation plans to grant $20 million over the next 15 months to support the capacity and infrastructure of its core partners who are working towards equity and justice. Organizations will need flexible and unrestricted dollars for maintaining their capacity and sustaining their core infrastructure. It is also important to help organizations build operating reserve funds and additional support like technical assistance. 


Blue Shield of California Foundation  

Carolyn Wang Kong, Chief Program Director, Blue Shield of California Foundation

  • Mission: Blue Shield of California Foundation is a statewide health funder. Their mission is to make California the healthiest state with the lowest rates of domestic violence. Advancing our mission through gender equity, providing economic security and mobility, and two-generational approaches. 
  • Foundation Response: Blue Shield of California Foundation response to the crisis is centered around equity and includes a public health response, community response, and economic response. They have been building on an existing partnership with Ethnic Media Services to connect ethnic journalists and public health experts with communities. Blue Shield of California Foundation has partnered with community foundations who can focus on geographies with the quick growth of the virus including Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, and the Inland Empire. The foundation was able to advance its prevention agenda by funding a two-state based system focused on food security and advocacy. Through a partnership with the Women’s Foundation, the Blue Shield of California Foundation will be giving general operating support to most domestic violence shelters in the state. They are also seed funders of the California Immigrant Resilience Fund. 


Liberty Hill Foundation 
Shane Murphy Goldsmith, President & CEO, Liberty Hill Foundation

  • Mission: Liberty Hill Foundation is a public charity that supports community organizers to build power in communities most impacted by systemic oppression to achieve justice and equity. They fund organizations that are led by and serving people who are directly impacted and are focused on racial justice, economic justice, LGBTQ justice, and environmental justice. 
  • What Grantees are Saying: Community organizers who generally are working on systems change and policy advocacy with their members have pivoted to direct service. They saw that their members were not being served by mainstream systems and services due to members being explicitly excluded and or they don’t trust the information or services that are out there Their members are most impacted by systemic oppression which is exacerbated by COVID-19: LGBTQ and Gender Nonconforming people, Black, Brown, Indigenous, Native, API, immigrants, and low-income people. They are also advocating for immediate government intervention to address COVID-related needs around low wage workers, tenant protections, releasing youth and adults from jail. 
  • Community Needs: General operating multiyear grants so that organizations have the security of resources and the space to focus on long term solutions. They need immediate resources to do virtual community organizing and serve their members’ basic needs, such as financial and legal assistance. Communities have also asked for a streamlined process for grantmaking that reduce time and effort for grantee-partners. They have requested that we and other foundations join with them in advocacy in support of their campaigns and communities. 
  • Foundation Response:  Liberty Hill Foundation has streamlined and rapidly accelerated its grantmaking in terms of grant renewals and new grants with a very minimal amount of paperwork. The foundation has set up a rapid response fund for community organizing and encourages all of their donor-advised funders to use an equity lens on their investments. The Foundations is directly engaged in advocacy in collaboration with grantee-partners, especially around tenant protections and incarcerated youth. The foundation has also been providing capacity building around virtual organizing, maintaining a strong infrastructure, maintaining mental and emotional health, and financial planning during this time. 


WITH Foundation 
Ryan Easterly, Executive Director, WITH Foundation

  • Mission: WITH Foundation promotes comprehensive healthcare for people with developmental disabilities in the United States. Developmental disabilities, meaning individuals whose onset of disabilities occurred before the age of 22. The grantmaking takes the form of supporting comprehensive healthcare service delivery models for adults with developmental disabilities as well as health care practitioners and cultural competency culture and humility training. WITH Foundation also addresses the reimbursement system for healthcare services, programming that promotes supportive decision making within healthcare settings, and the barriers of adults with developmental disabilities experience when trying to access high-quality healthcare.  
  • Community Response: Movement building for the healthcare system to tackle how to provide healthcare outside of a congregated setting. Those with complex health care needs will continue to feel the impacts of COVID-19. Disability health care providers express a continued need for support around preventative measures, messaging, and guidance. There is a need for COVID-19 information to be accessible for people with various languages and comprehension levels. There is also a need for more support around protective equipment, telehealth, and support for healthcare workers. 
  • Community Needs: Food security, mutual aid rapid resource coordination, access to technology, and digital literacy programs. 
  • Foundation Response: The WITH Foundation has established a response fund where they have provided 41 of current and past grantees to apply for funding with a quick 1 question application. The foundation is also being flexible on current grant terms and grant periods. This is a critical opportunity for philanthropy to be intentional about grantmaking for the disability community.   



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