How well is Irvine doing in focusing its resources on low-income people and communities of color?
Every year since 2009, we have been collecting information about the economic status and race/ethnicity of the populations that are being served by Irvine’s grants. We have just completed the analysis of our 2011 grantmaking, and it shows that, of $65 million in new grants in 2011, half of these dollars went to organizations that focus exclusively on communities of color, as illustrated by the chart below:
Note: This chart excludes special opportunity and discretionary grants, memberships, sponsorships and foundation-administered projects.
We now have three years of data about our grantmaking to low-income and diverse communities. These data show that the Foundation has been consistently focusing just over half our grants on low-income people and/or communities of color. However, 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 where activity continues for several years into the future.
For example, in the area of the Foundation where I work, Special Initiatives, there was a dramatic change in the proportion of grants that focused exclusively on communities of color between 2009 and 2011, from 74 percent to 10 percent. This is because we launched the Community Leadership Project in 2009 with $4 million of new grants from Irvine. Currently funded work continues through 2012.
In other cases, some of the variation is because certain grants will benefit low-income and communities of color along with general populations. For example, we awarded a multimillion dollar grant in 2011 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, because we cannot say with certainty at this time that the grant will focus exclusively on low-income people and communities of color, it is not represented in the chart above. Numbers tell only part of the story of our grantmaking at Irvine.
Some of the deeper questions we wrestle with are about opportunity and access. How can we ensure that low-income people and communities of color benefit from the many resources, opportunities and advantages that our state has to offer? How can foundations help build strong and effective organizations and leaders in disadvantaged communities? And, what does this type of capacity building look like, given very different cultural, regional and economic contexts across California?
At Irvine, data about where our grants are going help us identify these deeper questions, complement our evaluation efforts, and provide us with valuable insight into how well we are meeting our aspiration to expand opportunity for the people of California.
Read the full 2011 update on Irvine’s grantmaking to diverse communities.