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Exploring Our Work in Two California Regions

BY Amy Dominguez-Arms
Amy Dominguez-Arms
As Director of the California Democracy program, Amy leads strategies aimed at i
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| Jul 21, 2014 2

This past spring I’ve had the opportunity to explore – with my colleagues at Irvine and a consultant – how we might deepen our grantmaking in two important and growing regions of the state: 1) the San Joaquin Valley and 2) Riverside and San Bernardino counties. I’ve learned a lot in the process, but then, as often happens when we dig deeper, we also learn how much more there is to uncover.

For over a decade, the Irvine Foundation has aimed to prioritize funding to these two regions, which are socially dynamic and increasingly more populated, and yet receive substantially fewer private philanthropic dollars per capita than the major metropolitan areas on the coast.

Our mission in these two regions is, as it is for the state, to expand opportunity for residents there in ways that build upon the region’s many assets. Over these past 10 years, we’ve sought to do so through our core program areas of Arts, California Democracy and Youth. And, we’ve had the privilege to work with many grantee partners engaged in important, high-impact work.

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From the President: Pay for Success Projects Chosen for Support

BY Don Howard
Don Howard
Don Howard was appointed Interim President and Chief Executive Officer in Februa
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| May 05, 2014

Colleagues,

Here at Irvine, we’ve been pushing ourselves to be more agile and gutsy. Alongside our three longer-term program strategies, we’ve been looking for opportunities to support experimentation with new solutions that have the potential to dramatically improve opportunity for Californians.

In January, we made a bet that nonprofit and public sector leaders were eager to pilot Pay for Success funding agreements in California. These innovative agreements have the potential to bring new and more reliable capital to evidence-based prevention and intervention programs for people in need. In doing so, they would also save money by preventing the more costly services needed to treat problems after they’ve occurred.

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Announcing the California Pay for Success Initiative

BY Don Howard
Don Howard
Don Howard was appointed Interim President and Chief Executive Officer in Februa
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| Jan 28, 2014

One of the most valuable roles a foundation can play is to invest in promising solutions being tested out by talented leaders at a moment in time when, if they succeed, a breakthrough just might be possible.

I’m excited to announce a new initiative that strives to do just that. Today, The James Irvine Foundation, in close partnership with the Nonprofit Finance Fund, launches the California Pay for Success Initiative, initially funded with $2.5 million, designed to make the “Pay for Success” model a reality in California.

Pay for Success is a creative approach to funding social services, with potential to bring new, significant, and reliable resources to proven preventative programs. In a Pay for Success deal, private investors pay for preventative or interventional social services up front. Should these services deliver their intended results, governments then reimburse the investors with a return on their investment, while saving money on what they otherwise would have spent. It is a model designed to both improve outcomes and reduce costs.

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New Leadership Program Launches in Fresno

BY Anne Vally
Anne Vally
Anne Vally was with The James Irvine Foundation from 2000 to 2013, last serving
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| Mar 25, 2013 2
As the San Joaquin Valley’s economic, social and educational challenges have gained more national attention, it’s easy to get lost in the myriad of well-documented problems and issues facing the valley.

However, we have also seen a groundswell of new energy and creative ideas bubbling up in the region. New leaders are harnessing the valley’s longstanding creativity and resilience, making instrumental strides towards a better future for the region. We see a unique opportunity to support these new leaders to bring the kinds of changes and social benefit they envision for the San Joaquin Valley. To do this, we are pleased to announce the launch of The James Irvine Foundation New Leadership Network.

As a long-time supporter and champion of the San Joaquin Valley, I’d like to offer some personal observations on what makes the New Leadership Network different.

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A Blueprint for Community Foundation Impact

BY Anne Vally
Anne Vally
Anne Vally was with The James Irvine Foundation from 2000 to 2013, last serving
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| Aug 06, 2012 1

One of the most fundamental values we hold at Irvine is to share what we’re learning. We want our colleagues — both nonprofits and other funders — to be able to apply the most promising ideas, approaches and strategies to their work – and to also avoid the ones that aren’t working. We will be putting this value into action at the upcoming Council on Foundations 2012 Fall Conference for Community Foundations.

We know that all community foundations want to grow assets and create positive changes in their communities, and Irvine will be hosting a special workshop to share strategies on how to make this happen. The workshop is built around the lessons and approaches developed over six years of intensive work to help a set of emerging community foundations in California become stronger leaders in their communities as part of our Community Foundations Initiative II. Between 2005 and 2011, this group grew their collective assets 12 percent annually (from $73 million to $131 million), compared to 7 percent for their peers nationwide. At the same time, they increased their grantmaking, awarding $4 million more in grants each and every year for projects in their communities.

We began sharing some of the lessons and tools from this work in 2007, with our Growing Smarter report, and over the years, we have hosted sold-out webinars and conference programs in partnership with the Council on Foundations to disseminate this knowledge to the field.

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Refining Our Support For Grantee Leadership

BY Kevin Rafter
Kevin Rafter
As Manager of Impact Assessment and Learning, Kevin oversees evaluation efforts
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| Jul 19, 2012 1

Building leadership is one of Irvine’s core values, and one of the ways we try to realize that value is through the Fund for Leadership Advancement. Started in 2005, the fund supports the development of individual leaders as a way to increase the impact of existing Irvine grantee organizations. Although the fund has been on hiatus while we conducted a program review, we are restarting this leadership development initiative and sharing what we’ve learned from our work in this area.

As we reached a critical mass of more than 50 FLA grants, we decided to take stock of FLA and consider updates that would insure that the program takes into account the economic and social circumstances our grantees currently face. In order to review the impact of FLA, we commissioned Harder+Company Community Research to conduct an external assessment of these grants and help us understand where and how FLA has had the greatest impact.

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Napa Valley Community Foundation Opens Dialogue on Immigration

BY Anne Vally
Anne Vally
Anne Vally was with The James Irvine Foundation from 2000 to 2013, last serving
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| May 24, 2012

Earlier this month, I was part of an event in Napa County that shows why a creative and resourced community foundation is one of the most important assets a community can have. More than 150 civic leaders, business people, teachers and community members attended a gathering hosted by the Napa Valley Community Foundation to talk about immigration and look at a new report the community foundation commissioned that examines the fiscal and economic impact of immigrants in the region.

To most of us, Napa Valley brings to mind wine and tourism; and indeed, those are two of the most important industries in the county. But because the Irvine Foundation seeks to expand opportunity for disadvantaged Californians, I also think of changing demographics when I think of Napa County.

Napa will experience one of the most profound demographic shifts in the state over the next 40 years. The Latino population is estimated to grow from 23 percent to 70 percent of residents by 2050, and Napa will become the first county in the Bay Area to have a Latino majority. How the community handles these shifting demographics will be critical to the county’s economy and quality of life. Will the community welcome this increased diversity or will it become a source of division? Will public schools be able to close the achievement gap between Caucasian students and students of color, or will inequalities become exacerbated?

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Small Calif. Community Foundations Get Big Results

BY Anne Vally
Anne Vally
Anne Vally was with The James Irvine Foundation from 2000 to 2013, last serving
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| Apr 16, 2012 2

Over the past six years, I’ve had the privilege of working closely with a set of small, young community foundations in under-resourced parts of California as they aim to grow faster, smarter, and increase the positive impact they are having in their communities. With Irvine’s Community Foundations Initiative II (CFI II), I have learned one indelible lesson from these small but mighty organizations: take a deep breath and try it.

The “it” can be whatever you see that has the potential to change your organization and your community. Try new ways of engaging donors. Be bold and ask board members to give more. Bring people together to talk about thorny issues. Experiment with social media.

Through CFI II, we invested $12 million over six years in the growth and leadership of seven small California community foundations, with impressive results. Between 2005 and 2011, the group grew their collective assets 12 percent annually (going from $73 million to $131 million), compared to seven percent for their peers nationwide. At the same time, they increased their grantmaking, awarding $4 million more in grants each year for projects in their communities.

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Building Capacity Among Community Nonprofits

BY Anne Vally
Anne Vally
Anne Vally was with The James Irvine Foundation from 2000 to 2013, last serving
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| Apr 05, 2012

The Community Leadership Project is a $10 million investment, made collaboratively by Irvine and the Packard and Hewlett foundations, to support the effectiveness and impact of a set of small organizations that are deeply rooted in low-income communities and communities of color. The project began in 2009, and more than 100 community organizations in three regions of California – the San Francisco Bay Area, Central Coast and San Joaquin Valley –are involved in this effort to enhance important aspects of their organizations’ operations and leadership abilities.

We recently received a progress report from Social Policy Research Associates, the team that is evaluating the project’s results, and we are excited to share some of the accomplishments, challenges and surprises of the project.

The evaluation shows that CLP is successfully reaching organizations and individuals that are not typically on the philanthropy radar because of some combination of their small size, their finite capacity, or where they are located. Two years into the project, it is still too early to document specific outcomes, but the evaluators also share their viewpoint that CLP investments are making a difference for participating organizations in a host of ways. We are finding that:

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UCLA Report: How Recession is Affecting Nonprofits

BY Kevin Rafter
Kevin Rafter
As Manager of Impact Assessment and Learning, Kevin oversees evaluation efforts
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| Jan 31, 2012

As part of our Special Initiatives grantmaking, we fund research on occasion that can help us understand the trends and issues facing the nonprofit sector. After all, we can only accomplish our mission through the hard work of the nonprofit organizations that we partner with. Understanding the nonprofit environment helps us do a better job of aligning our grant support with their needs and opportunities.

A great example of Irvine-funded research along these lines was released on January 31 by the UCLA Center for Civil Society. Since 2003 the center has published annual reports on the state of the nonprofit sector in Los Angeles; this year’s report focused on how the recession is affecting  human service organizations. The report, Stressed and Stretched: The Recession, Poverty and Human Services Nonprofits in Los Angeles, shows how reduced revenues from government and individuals has caused nonprofits to do more with less at a time when the number of Angelenos in need of social services is growing. Nonprofits serving the lowest income neighborhoods, and those serving African Americans in particular, have been hardest hit.

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Aaron Pick
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"As Senior Program Officer of the Youth program, Aa..."
Alex Barnum
57 post(s)
"Alex Barnum was a Communications Officer at The Ja..."
Amy Dominguez-Arms
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"As Director of the California Democracy program, A..."
Angela Glover Blackwell
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Anne Stanton
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Anne Vally
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Catherine Hazelton
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