California Forward Print E-mail


To advance governance and fiscal reforms that lead to a more responsive, effective and accountable government in California.

Initiative Description

California Forward was founded in 2007 by five foundations — The California Endowment, the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation —to lead a bipartisan effort to improve California's fiscal and governing systems. California Forward was created by four respected civic organizations — California Common Cause, Center for Governmental Studies, New California Network and The Commonwealth Club of California's Voices of Reform Project — in response to an invitation by the five foundations. California Forward’s bipartisan approach includes:

  • A bipartisan Leadership Council, comprised of statewide leaders, that sets the priorities for the organization
  • Outreach to all sectors of society, including state and local public officials, private sector leaders, diverse community organizations and civic leaders, in developing and advancing a reform agenda
  • A project-based approach, targeting specific areas of reform in a sequenced manner.

More information about California Forward’s work is available at www.caforward.org.


The initial grants to California Forward included a commitment to an evaluation that would analyze the organization’s progress and continuing challenges on governance and fiscal reform. This evaluation is currently underway, focusing on understanding California Forward’s impact in framing and advancing key governance reforms. The evaluators are accountable directly to the five funders, but also work closely with California Forward to develop and implement an evaluation approach that will support ongoing improvement.


The evaluation will assess whether and how California Forward has been able to advance governance and fiscal reforms in terms of framing the reform agenda, achieving specific reforms, facilitating effective implementation of reforms, and building organizational networks with the capacity to support additional governance improvements.

Time frame:

October 2008 – March 2010


The evaluation will assess California Forward’s impact by focusing data collection on two of their initial projects, redistricting reform and budget and fiscal reform. The evaluators will gather data through stakeholder interviews; analyses of organizational alliances, support and opposition; content analyses of policy proposals and media coverage; surveys; and documentation of public involvement in organizational activities, including the number and demographics of participants. Specific data collection activities will be tailored to the nature of each project. The evaluators will also undertake a social network analysis to provide an overall assessment of stakeholders’ views of California Forward and the organization’s base of support.


We plan to report on this evaluation in fall 2010.


Jacqueline Berman
Principal Analyst
Berkeley Policy Associates