2010 Grantmaking to Diverse Communities Print E-mail

Annual Update on Irvine’s Grantmaking to Low-Income and Diverse Communities


In 2008, The James Irvine Foundation (along with several other private foundations) announced plans to increase support for grassroots organizations that serve low-income communities and communities of color in California. We sought to deepen our commitment to these communities as part of our overall mission to expand opportunity for the people of California to participate in a vibrant, successful and inclusive society. This annual report provides a snapshot of our grantmaking in 2010 that serves low-income communities and communities of color.

2010 Grantmaking Activities

Approximately 50 percent of our total grantmaking of $64.7 million in 2010 was granted to organizations that explicitly focus on serving low-income and/or communities of color. Below are two charts that illustrate our grantmaking to these communities by program area:

Grantmaking Focused Exclusively on Communities of Color, 2009–2010

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This chart shows that grantmaking focused exclusively on communities of color comprised 51 percent of our total grantmaking in 2010. We expect to see significant variation from year to year on this figure, as multiyear grants are awarded in one year but activity continues for several years into the future. One example of this variation is the Community Leadership Project (which focuses exclusively on low-income and communities of color). These grants were awarded in 2009 for work that continues in 2010 and beyond.

Grantmaking Focused Exclusively on Low-Income Communities, 2009–2010

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Another way to summarize Irvine’s grantmaking in 2010 is to look how we support low-income communities. This chart shows that 40 percent of our grants in 2010 focused exclusively on low-income populations in California. Again, the variance from year-to-year is attributable to the timing of multiyear grants.

It is also important to note that both charts summarize total grantmaking in 2010, and grants that serve both low-income communities and communities of color would be represented in each chart.

Highlights from our Program Areas

Following are illustrative examples of the work within our Special Initiatives grantmaking and Irvine’s three program areas to support low-income and communities of color in California.

Community Leadership Project (Special Initiatives)
The Community Leadership Project (CLP) is a $10 million grantmaking partnership begun in 2009 between the Packard, Irvine and Hewlett foundations to build the capacity of grassroots organizations serving low-income and communities of color in California. Irvine’s commitment to CLP totals $4 million and the project has reached full implementation stage. Our network of 27 intermediary partners has recruited and selected 100 community organizations in the San Joaquin Valley, Central Coast and Bay Area and is providing them with regranted Packard, Irvine and Hewlett funds for core support. Intermediaries have also launched capacity-building and leadership development programs. While it is too early to assess how or whether our community grantees are growing in capacity, we do know that we are reaching our intended audience:

  • All 100 community grantees are working in low-income and communities of color.
  • 75 percent of community grantees have an annual budget of less than $500,000.
  • Grant dollars are reaching small organizations in the San Joaquin Valley (40 percent), Bay Area (43 percent) and Central Coast (16 percent).

We launched a formal evaluation of the project in 2010, which helped us clarify our intended impact and identify the short term outcomes that will help us measure success. Along with our partners at Packard and Hewlett, we have set up a separate website at with more detail about the project and its partners.

Youth Program
The goal of our Youth program is to increase the number of low-income youth in California who complete high school on time and attain a postsecondary credential by the age of 25. Our strategy to achieve this goal is to transform high school education in California by making Linked Learning available to a majority of low-income youth and across all socioeconomic groups. Linked Learning provides high school students with strong academics connected to real-world experience in a wide range of fields, such as engineering, arts and media, and biomedicine and health. Research shows that the Linked Learning approach can lead to higher graduation rates, increased college enrollments and higher earning potential. In 2010, we made $22.9 million in grants to build the field of Linked Learning by supporting high-quality practice in schools, districts and community colleges; building public support amongst families, educators, policymakers and business leaders; and policy research and analysis to support reforms that lead to broader adoption of the Linked Learning approach. More than 70 percent of these grant dollars supported efforts that focus exclusively on youth of color.

California Democracy Program
In our California Democracy program, our Civic Engagement priority aims to increase civic engagement among traditionally underrepresented communities by supporting organizations that create opportunities for large numbers of low-income, ethnic and immigrant populations to engage in public decisions and shape public policies that affect their lives. Current grantees in this area reported helping more than 20,000 underserved residents engage in discussions with public officials in 2010. This resulted in more than 50 policy changes and improvements in their quality of life, and 13 new mechanisms to ensure ongoing opportunities for civic engagement. In 2010, our Civic Engagement grants totaled $5.2 million. Notable among those grants is a grant for $2.25 million to support the Families Improving Education initiative, a regranting and capacity-building program to support San Joaquin Valley along with Riverside and San Bernardino counties organizations engaging low-income and diverse residents in educational decision making. That additional support brings Irvine’s total investment in the Families Improving Education initiative to more than $5 million.

Arts Program
The changing demographics of California is creating new opportunities and challenges for the nonprofit arts sector, whose audiences have traditionally not reflected the diversity of the state’s population. Irvine’s grantmaking in the Arts program seeks to help nonprofits increase participation of diverse communities in the arts. In 2010, we awarded $5.2 million in grants to both large and small arts organizations for work specifically focused on diverse communities. These grants supported a rich variety of events and projects that engaged low-income and ethnically diverse populations traditionally underserved by nonprofit arts organizations. Included among these grants was an open application fund, the Creative Connections Fund, which provided 33 grants to smaller organizations across the state, many of which were first-time Irvine grantees, to engage diverse audiences in the arts.


By virtue of our focus on the state of California and our mission to expand opportunity, The James Irvine Foundation maintains a deep commitment to working in partnership with organizations that serve low-income and communities of color. Our activities in 2010 build on this commitment through new efforts, such as the Community Leadership Project, and through our core programs. We look forward to our continued partnership with the many outstanding organizations we are privileged to support, and we intend to report on an ongoing basis regarding the results of our collective efforts to expand opportunity for the people of California.