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SCG President's Message - May 2019

This month, SCG'S President & CEO Chis Essel has offered our staff her platform to share key takeaways from our 2019 Public Policy Conference, learnings and resources from recent Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation - Los Angeles programs, member news, and more.


Post-Policy Conference Takeaways and SCG’s Newly Expanded Public Policy Agenda

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

Key Takeaways for Funders from the 2019 Public Policy Conference, Conference California: The Road Ahead


As we reflect on last month’s Public Policy Conference, it’s clearer than ever that philanthropy has a significant role to play in public policy. With over 300 funders and community leaders in attendance, the conference illustrated that advocacy is a critical tool in the philanthropic toolbox and that public-private partnerships are among our most promising vehicles for change.

Below are just a few key takeaways for funders from the day’s dynamic conversations (be sure to visit this resource page for more valuable insights from each session):

  • Across various state budget initiatives, a common theme is the recognition that children and families do not face isolated challenges or live in silos. Addressing deep poverty requires a multitude of simultaneous, coordinated investments—amongst which philanthropy’s direct monetary contribution can only create a relatively small impact. Therefore, funders might want to consider using policy, advocacy and communications campaigns to scale systems change efforts.
  • California has three interconnected crises: homelessness, housing affordability and healthcare access. Put simply, it’s difficult to access healthcare if you do not have a place to live. Philanthropy can: (1) Get involved in tax laws/state budgets, which have the single biggest impact on the lives of people in poverty; (2) Change the narrative: Housing is a systemic issue, not an individual one; (3) Elevate the voices of people most impacted by building power through community organizing networks; and, (4) Advance budgetary and legislative change through our own advocacy and by supporting active voting at the ballot box, including for equitable implementation of laws.
  • Philanthropy has a role to play in redistricting reform—ensuring that the rules of the game are fair and that politicians have to serve voters. To learn more about redistricting, read a blog post by Connie Malloy Portfolio Director of the James Irvine Foundation and join a Redistricting 101 webinar on May 28, co-presented by SCG and Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrant and Refugees.
  • The “north star” for justice reinvestments for young people in Los Angeles is for no children to remain in the county youth prison system. In order to reach this goal, a larger coalition of partners will be needed.
  • While many of us are trained to create structural systems change by focusing on policies and practices, transformative systems change requires working on “hidden” conditions that are holding a problem in place. Funders need to recognize and address relationships, power dynamics, events, patterns/trends and deeply held beliefs.
  • To alleviate race and gender wealth gaps, funders can broaden the reach of private-public partnerships. For example, LIFT-LA focuses on financial literacy and education, helping families overcome burdensome debt and build pathways to access and gain wealth. Funders can also support robust public policies to address cash-based need and debt alleviation, e.g., expanding the California Earned Income Tax Credit or children’s savings accounts.

An Exciting Next Step for SCG’s Policy Work


Since the creation of our public policy agenda, SCG has worked with members to lay out key areas of focus for our advocacy work. Earlier this year, SCG’s Public Policy Committee took a bold step by articulating an informed position and strategy recommendation on each of our priority issues. We have long recognized that philanthropy’s immense intellectual capital must be shared to support community-led solutions and drive evidence-based public policy, and this agenda now anchors us to further deepen our public policy engagement. It spells out our perspective on key issue areas that underpin and drive our advocacy. Reviewed on an annual basis by our Public Policy Committee, the agenda guides the SCG team as we identify opportunities where philanthropy’s voice can positively shape outcomes.


Our next major effort in the policy realm is Philanthropy in the State Capitol, coming up on May 21 and 22. We are thrilled that 30 of your colleagues will be among our delegation in Sacramento, joining another 10 funders from across the state through Philanthropy California. We will continue to share updates and outcomes from this event, as well as ongoing public policy efforts. If you have any questions or would like to become more involved in this work, contact Seyron Foo, Director of Public Policy and Government Relations.


Honoring and Confronting Our Past to Pave Ways for Racial Healing

In April, Truth Racial Healing & Transformation – Los Angeles hosted a Tongva History Walk of Downtown Los Angeles and took part in the 50th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage. Both events filled our hearts with humility and left us with much to reflect upon: in order to heal, grow, and make progress, our society must have greater awareness of our history.

Presented in collaboration with local Tongva leaders Cindi Alvitre, Julia Bogany, Desiree Martinez, and Craig Torres, the Tongva History Walk attempted to re-envision the landscape of Downtown Los Angeles as Yaanga—the village where Tongva and Gabrieleno communities lived prior to contact with European settlers and missionaries in the late 1700s. Throughout the program, participants got a glimpse into indigenous worldviews that highlight our current relationships with water and nature, public spaces, oral histories, land, and ancestry. As the Tongva leaders fought through a cacophony of traffic and city noises in order to guide us through the Yaanga Plaque, Placita Olvera, Union Station, and other unacknowledged sites, we were poignantly reminded of the indigenous communities who are constantly struggling to be seen and heard.


For half a century, over 1,000 people from all walks of life have traveled from locations far and wide to Manzanar, the first of the American concentration camps in which more than 120,000 Japanese Americans and their immigrant parents were unjustly incarcerated during World War II. Partnering with Vigilant Love during the 50th Manzanar Pilgrimage, our TRHT-LA community was joined by a multi-ethnic and inter-spiritual delegation of Muslim Americans, Japanese Americans and many others. Standing in the sweltering desert heat at the foot of the majestic Sierra Nevada with an alliance of diverse Americans who have come together in solidarity, we believed more strongly than ever that during this time of deep division, love is stronger than hate. Today, we must not only share the truth about past wrongs created by individual and systemic racism, but also celebrate the beauty of what it means to show up for one another and to see one’s self in each other.



Meet SCG's New Members

Armanino Foundation (San Ramon, CA)

Assist charitable organizations that create a positive impact on the lives of people in our communities

Arts Council for Long Beach (Long Beach, CA)

Foster creativity and culture, enliven communities and enable a thriving creative economy 

Golden State Opportunity Foundation (Los Angeles, CA)

Spread awareness of the Federal and California Earned Income Tax Credit (CAL EITC), as well as other public benefits, and promotes free tax preparation services 

Hope and Heal Fund (Washington, D.C.)

Harness the collective power of individuals, communities, government, and philanthropy in order to ensure homes and communities in California are safe and free from gun death, injury, and trauma

LA Partnership for Early Childhood Investment (Los Angeles, CA)

To invest in and promote innovations that advance the lifelong health and well-being of LA County children, age 0-5 

Manufacturers Bank (Los Angeles, CA)

To support the communities they serve by working closely with non-profit organizations to help them achieve their purpose

WITH Foundation (Palo Alto, CA)

To promote the establishment of comprehensive healthcare for adults with developmental disabilities that is designed to address their unique and fundamental needs 



Member and Community News

Grantmakers Salary and Benefits Survey

Council on Foundations

Since 1980, the Council's Grantmaker Salary and Benefits Survey has provided the sector with the most comprehensive data on staff composition and compensation in the U.S. Survey participants receive a copy of the full and board compensation reports in October.


John W. Mack Movement Building Fellows Pilot Program

Application Deadline: June 17, 2019

The Weingart Foundation is excited to launch a pilot fellowship designed to strengthen the pipeline of next-generation social justice and racial equity leaders in Los Angeles County. 


Turning Thoughts and Prayers into Action: Religious Pluralism in the Era of Hate

Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

Conrad N. Hilton Foundation launches an initiative to connect local and national funders whose work touches religious pluralism with a cross-section of local community leaders, content and experts.


White Nationalism: Count it, Condemn it, Confront it

Nathan Cummings Foundation

The Nathan Cummings Foundation speaks out against white nationalism and calls on the field of philanthropy to come together to #deactivatehate.




In Case You Missed It

April Public Policy Roundup - SCG's monthly newsletter featuring the latest on public policy issues and legislative spotlights.

April Corporate Brief - SCG's monthly newsletter on corporate social responsibility and corporate philanthropy news, events, and peer profiles.

Family Philanthropy Newsletter - SCG's quarterly newsletter highlighting original content created by family foundations, community news, and resources.