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BY Ekta Chopra
Ekta Chopra
Ekta Chopra is Irvine's Director of Technology, leading the Foundation’s use of
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| Apr 03, 2014

Editor’s Note: Foundational Knowledge is an occasional series on News & Insights, providing three bullet points on a topic of interest to Irvine’s partners and grantees.

Technology is changing the landscape of the social sector and continues to be a key to success in social change. But resource challenges and lack of technology expertise often serve as a hurdle in making this change happen for non-profits.

Here are three things that social sector leaders can do to make technology a partner, not just a resource, in bringing social change:

  • Do your work in the cloud
    Working in the cloud allows you to become nimble and agile, making collaboration simple. Examples of tools for this include:

  • Leverage video chats to build face-to-face connections
    Tools like Skype, FaceTime & Google Plus Hangouts offer multiple free ways to conduct online meetings and webinars.

  • Support training for accidental techies
    There are many online options for e-learning, as well as locals groups like Meetup.com that offer technology topics and general education for non techies in non-profits.

You don’t need to make big investments to leverage technology in this journey of social change.


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BY Thuy Nguyen Kumar
Thuy Nguyen Kumar
As Communications Project Manager, Thuy provides project support for a broad ran
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| Apr 01, 2014

In March 2014, the following published articles mentioned the work of the Foundation or our grantees:


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Irvine Board Approves $5.5 Million in Grants

BY Thuy Nguyen Kumar
Thuy Nguyen Kumar
As Communications Project Manager, Thuy provides project support for a broad ran
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| Mar 17, 2014

The James Irvine Foundation Board of Directors approved $5.5 million in grants at its quarterly meeting last week. Of the 10 approved grants, seven grants are within Arts, two grants are within California Democracy and one is in our Youth program.

Here are some highlights of the new grants:

Exploring Engagement Fund for Larger Organizations — The Arts program made grants to six organizations totaling $3.6 million within the Exploring Engagement Fund for Larger Organizations. These grants will support experimentation by each organization on how to increase arts engagement in a new or deepened way.

Voter and Civic Engagement — Our California Democracy program made grants to two organizations as part of the Voter and Civic Engagement priority. One grant, for $800,000, went to Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education to support voter mobilization and civic engagement activities among 500,000 voters across 12 California counties.

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An Update from Irvine Board Chair Greg Avis on CEO Search

BY Greg Avis
Greg Avis
Greg Avis is chair of the board of The James Irvine Foundation. Avis is a Foundi
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| Mar 17, 2014

In our efforts to find the next Irvine Foundation President and CEO, both the search committee and our consultants Spencer Stuart have spent recent months talking with staff, the board, Foundation partners, and thought leaders in California. As result of this work, we now have available the completed position and candidate specification. You may find that posted on our website.

Spencer Stuart is beginning the candidate development process at this time. Please feel free to contact Spencer Stuart if you would like to nominate a candidate, or self-nominate, via the following This e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

While respecting the confidentiality involved in any such process, we will continue to provide updates here when available.

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Irvine at 2014 GEO Conference

BY Kevin Rafter
Kevin Rafter
As Manager of Impact Assessment and Learning, Kevin oversees evaluation efforts
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| Mar 10, 2014

My colleagues and I are looking forward to sharing lessons and insights from our work and several initiatives in breakout sessions at the Grantmakers for Effective Organizations conference this week in Los Angeles. If you are attending the conference we hope to see you at these sessions. Please come up and introduce yourselves! (And if you are not, please join the discussion using the hashtag #2014GEO).

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Foundational Knowledge: Assessment and Learning

BY Kevin Rafter
Kevin Rafter
As Manager of Impact Assessment and Learning, Kevin oversees evaluation efforts
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| Mar 03, 2014

Editor’s Note: Foundational Knowledge is a new and occasional series on News & Insights, providing three bullet points on a topic of interest to Irvine’s partners and grantees.

Assessment and learning are buzzwords that generate excitement and dread in the social sector. Sometimes lumped under the heading of evaluation, assessment and learning simply means the practice of collecting data about the outcomes of our work to understand progress and impact.

Here are some important points I keep in mind about using measurement to help us understand our impact and progress:

  • Aligning your measurement plan to key decisions is important! The most valuable assessment is one that is timed to provide data, analysis and insights at the right time to inform decisions about future grants or a strategic refinement.
  • This is new territory in many parts of the social sector, so don't let perfect be the enemy of the good - work with what's available, and refine as you go.
  • You learn as much from discovering what’s not working in your programs as you do from learning what works well. In this way, it’s always valuable to do an assessment.
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In the News: February 2014

BY Thuy Nguyen Kumar
Thuy Nguyen Kumar
As Communications Project Manager, Thuy provides project support for a broad ran
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| Feb 28, 2014

In February 2014, the following published articles mentioned the work of the Foundation or our grantees:

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From the President: Hope and Opportunity

BY Don Howard
Don Howard
Don Howard was appointed Interim President and Chief Executive Officer in Februa
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| Feb 18, 2014

Colleagues,

I’m feeling hopeful. I’m hopeful that addressing inequitable and unsustainable gaps in opportunity is truly emerging as a priority in our nation, as evidenced by the President’s “Opportunity Agenda,” and here in California, where I see a growing recognition of the ever-widening disparities between socio-economic groups and between our inland and coastal regions. This recognition is a tribute to the tenacious and creative efforts of social sector leaders and their communities who have brought attention and solutions forward to our profound opportunity gaps. Even though we still live in a state and country where your zip code can predict your social mobility and life expectancy, I’m hopeful that expanding access to opportunity will have broad enough importance and urgency across ethical, economic, and political lines to become a shared goal.

Perhaps, I’m hopeful because we at the James Irvine Foundation, like so many of you, have committed ourselves to this very goal for Californians. We see the insidious and unfair effects of opportunity being inaccessible to so many people. We also see, in the work that so many of you do, the tremendous potential for proven approaches and innovative solutions to improve access to opportunity and to strengthen individuals, families, communities, and society.

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Measuring the Impact of Social Media: What Happens Offline?

BY Joyce Sood
Joyce Sood
As Digital Communications Officer, Joyce Sood leads Irvine's social media and di
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| Feb 14, 2014

Editor’s note: The following post also appears on The Communications Network’s blog.

As we examine the online impact of our social media activities, a question that often comes to mind is: Can we reliably measure whether people's online engagement influences their actions and behavior offline?

During a recent webinar, held as a follow up to a spring 2013 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) conference that began a sector-wide conversation about how to determine the effectiveness of using social media to advance causes and issues, three foundations shared how they’re assessing what they’re learning about their separate online activities.

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From the President: With Thanks

BY Jim Canales
Jim Canales
Jim Canales served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The James Irvine
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| Feb 04, 2014

Dear Friends,

In a few weeks, I will conclude what has been an enormously satisfying tenure as Irvine’s CEO since 2003. Since the announcement of my appointment as President of the Barr Foundation, I have found myself reflecting a great deal upon gratitude. Therefore, I’d like to use this final President’s Message to offer my thanks to several groups of people, who have been essential to the progress that the Irvine Foundation has made and who have personally contributed to my growth and learning as CEO.

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