Special Initiatives
Community Foundations Initiative II Print E-mail

To accelerate the growth and leadership of selected small and emerging community foundations in rural areas of California.

Community foundations serve an important and unique role in their communities. They encourage charitable giving by local donors. They identify and address local needs by making grants to local organizations and by linking donors and nonprofits. And, they are leaders in their communities, drawing attention and resources to priority community concerns.

Irvine has a long history of partnering with community foundations (read more about Irvine's community foundations support), recognizing that these organizations deeply understand the needs and aspirations of their local communities. In 1995, we launched the first Community Foundations Initiative, an $11.7 million effort to strengthen seven midsize community foundations across the state from 1995 to 2003. In 2005, we launched the Community Foundations Initiative II (CFI II), which builds on the success of our first initiative and focuses on smaller community foundations located in more rural parts of the state.

At the heart of CFI II is a belief that community foundations can increase their credibility and raise awareness of their work among donors and the broader community by implementing a visible and thoughtful regranting program. With increased recognition and investments to strengthen their own organizations, community foundations can grow faster and increase their ability to serve their communities.

An important objective of both community foundation initiatives has been to address the disparity in philanthropic giving in California by focusing on community foundations in regions of the state that have been underserved by organized philanthropy. For more information about this issue, read our 2006 report Foundation Giving in California, which provides a comprehensive picture of private philanthropy in the state.

Watch the video below for an overview of the Community Foundation Initiative II.

Structure of the Initiative

Community Foundations Initiative II is a $12 million initiative that aims to accelerate the growth and leadership of selected small and emerging community foundations in rural parts of the state. Launched in 2005 and planned to conclude in 2011, the initiative’s strategy is to provide selected community foundations with three types of support:

  • Direct grants for core operating support and self-identified projects to build the foundation’s organizational infrastructure
  • Regranting funds in Youth or Arts to help each community foundation develop skills as a grantmaker
  • A strong program of technical assistance and a learning community where community foundations can learn from each other’s successes and challenges

Technical assistance is an integral component of CFI II. Participating community foundations are offered a host of services to mobilize and engage board members, increase visibility in their communities and plan for financial sustainability. In addition, executives from the participating community foundations meet twice each year to hear from outside speakers, learn from one another and address the key aspects of growing and sustaining a small community foundation.


Nine community foundations were selected for the first phase of CFI II (2005 to 2008) and received three-year grants ranging from $325,000 to $575,000. In 2008, seven of these community foundations were selected to receive additional three-year grants ranging from $400,000 to $700,000. We are not accepting proposals from additional community foundations, as the initiative will conclude in 2011.

Current grantees are:

Technical Assistance Team

Technical assistance is provided to CFI II grantees by a team of experienced consultants, including:

What We Learned

The lessons learned by our grantee partners are captured in the Irvine Community Foundations Series:

Learning to Lead

Learning to Lead: The Journey to Community Leadership for Emerging Community Foundations

Sizing Up

Sizing Up: Strategies for Staffing Emerging Community Foundations

On Board

On Board: Engaging the Full Potential of Community Foundation Directors

Growing Smarter

Growing Smarter: Achieving Sustainability in Emerging Community Foundations

Reaching Out

Reaching Out: Board Ambassadors for Growth in Community Foundations

The Four Ps of Marketing

The Four Ps of Marketing: A Roadmap for Greater Community Foundation Visibility