2011 Grantmaking to Diverse Communities Print E-mail

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


As a complement to our evaluation efforts at Irvine, we collect information about the economic status and race/ethnicity of the populations that are being served by our grants. Information about diversity and the distribution of our grants, over time, helps us understand the reach of our grantmaking and provides us with one way to consider how well we are focusing our resources on underserved and disadvantaged communities. We began to collect and share this data in 2009.

2011 Grantmaking Activities

In 2011, we awarded total grants of $65 million, approximately half of which was granted to organizations that focus exclusively on low-income people and/or communities of color. Below are two charts that illustrate these grants, over time, by program area. To provide context for the data below, the statewide poverty rate is 16 percent, and 60 percent of California’s residents are people of color, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.

Grantmaking Focused Exclusively on Low-Income Communities, 2009-2011

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Note: This chart excludes special opportunity and discretionary grants, memberships, sponsorships and foundation-administered projects.

With three years of data, we can see that for the foundation as a whole, we are consistently focusing half of our grantmaking on low-income communities. We also see variations year to year and by program area. Many of these variations are a result of multiyear grants that are awarded in one year but activity continues for several years into the future. For example, the dramatic change in grants that exclusively focus on low-income communities within Special Initiatives is a result of grants for the Community Leadership Project. These grants were awarded in 2009 for work that continues through 2012.

Grantmaking Focused Exclusively on Communities of Color, 2009-2011

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Note: This chart excludes special opportunity and discretionary grants, memberships, sponsorships and foundation-administered projects.

This chart shows the portion of grants that were awarded in 2009 through 2011 that focus exclusively on communities of color. We expect to see year to year variation based on the timing of certain clusters of grants, and how programs advance various priorities in a given year. For example, in California Democracy, our civic engagement work, where we made more grants in 2011, is primarily focused on communities of color.

In other cases, some of the variation we see from year to year is because certain grants will benefit low-income and communities of color along with general populations. A key example of this is within Special Initiatives. In 2011, we awarded a multimillion dollar grant to the Fresno Regional Foundation to create the Fund for the San Joaquin Valley. The regranting from this fund should significantly benefit low-income people and communities of color, given the demographics of the San Joaquin Valley. However, we cannot say with certainty that the grant will focus exclusively on low-income people and communities of color, so it is not represented in this data.

It is important to note that both charts summarize total grantmaking in each year, 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 Irvine’s three program areas and Special Initiatives 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 is now two years into implementation. Through the help of talented intermediary organizations, we are providing 100 community organizations in the San Joaquin Valley, Central Coast and Bay Area with general operating support and technical assistance to help them grow stronger and more sustainable. We are also providing 300+ organizations with access to technical assistance workshops, and a further 500+ leaders with leadership development opportunities. Early evaluation results show that:

  • Community organizations are building meaningful new skills and capacities.
  • Organizations are benefiting from growing networks and social capital.
  • Leadership development programs are particularly effective in helping to connect, support and advance the aspirations of participating organizations.
  • Intermediary organizations who provide technical assistance and leadership development to these community organizations are also growing in capacity.
  • A new framework for culture competence is emerging and promises to be particularly relevant to other funders and intermediary organizations.

More detail about the Community Leadership Project and the community organizations we support through this initiative is available at

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 primary strategy is to transform secondary and postsecondary educational pathways in California by making Linked Learning available to a majority of low-income youth and across all socioeconomic groups. The steady rise of grantmaking in the Youth program that focuses exclusively on communities of color reflects this deepening engagement and commitment. In 2011, we made $22 million in grants to build the field of Linked Learning, to build public support for the approach, and for policy research and analysis to support positive reforms. We also awarded grants to community-based organizations, many of which are deeply rooted in communities of color, to expand the reach of Linked Learning to young people who are not currently enrolled in school.

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 15,000 underserved residents engage in discussions with public officials in 2011. This resulted in 44 policy changes and improvements in their quality of life, and 34 new mechanisms to ensure ongoing opportunities for civic engagement. In 2011, our Civic Engagement grants totaled $7.5 million.

Arts Program
Engaging audiences and participants that reflect the diversity of California’s population is an ongoing challenge for the nonprofit arts sector. In 2011, we announced a new grantmaking strategy that aims to help nonprofits increase participation of diverse communities in the arts. While our 2011 grants reflect previous grantmaking approaches, we expect to see the influence of our new strategy-based work in 2012 and expect that the portion of arts grants serving low-income people and communities of color will steadily increase. As we look back on 2011, notable grants include just under $5 million to 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.


Central to all our activities at Irvine is a value and commitment to serving disadvantaged communities in California. These data tell an important part of the story of our grantmaking at Irvine and provide an objective way for us to consider how well we are reaching our aspiration to expand opportunity for Californians, particularly low-income communities and people of color.