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Teaching Lessons

BY Aaron Pick
Aaron Pick
As Senior Program Officer of the Youth program, Aaron is responsible for develop
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| Oct 24, 2013

Teaching runs in my blood. My parents were elementary teachers, my sister currently teaches, and I’m a former high school math teacher. Together, we taught for over 50 years. Of all my jobs, teaching is the one that helped me most in being able to read an audience, adjust a plan midstream, and motivate others on a daily basis. It had a huge impact on my life. But a recent visit to a high school had me thinking about the power of learning to teach as a tool for young people and the many ways in which it can prepare them for success in college, career and life.

Enter Arroyo Valley High School in San Bernardino City Unified School District. Arroyo Valley serves over 2,000 high school students, mostly from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. About 150 of these students attend the Teaching Academy, which is just one example of a Linked Learning pathway set within one of California’s high-demand industry sectors that combines rigorous academics with career-based learning. Linked Learning integrates these real-world professions with rigorous academics in a way that makes school relevant and engaging. Students at Arroyo Valley serve as teaching interns at local schools and receive a course of study that prepares them for both college and the teaching profession.

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From the President: A Region Vital to our Future

BY Jim Canales
Jim Canales
Jim Canales served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The James Irvine
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| Oct 16, 2013

Dear Friends,

One of the opportunities afforded to institutions such as the Irvine Foundation is the ability to take a long-term view. As a perpetual institution dedicated to expanding opportunity for the people of California, the Irvine Foundation needs to look at not only today’s challenges, but also must understand the trends and forces that will shape the California of the future.

For the past decade, our work has been informed by the realization that the inland parts of California — particularly the San Joaquin Valley along with Riverside and San Bernardino counties — are increasingly vital to the future of our state. The population of those regions continues to grow at rates far beyond California’s overall growth. In fact, between 2010 and 2030, it is projected that fully 46% of the state’s total population growth will occur in those regions alone.

It is this reality that led us to hold our quarterly board meeting in October in Riverside and San Bernardino, to provide our board members with an opportunity to hear directly from leaders and residents of the region regarding the assets and opportunities in their two counties. (We conducted a similar board visit to the Fresno region in 2010). There is simply no substitute for such visits; they provide the opportunity to listen and to learn and to have our strategies informed and shaped by the authentic experience of people who live there.

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Transforming High Schools: Linking Academics and Real Life

BY Jim Canales
Jim Canales
Jim Canales served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The James Irvine
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| Sep 18, 2013
Editor’s Note: The following post by Irvine Foundation President and CEO Jim Canales originally ran in the Huffington Post on September 16, 2013, and is reprinted here.

My first job out of college was as a high school English teacher in San Francisco. As a result, every fall brings with it hope and excitement, a combination of anticipation and aspiration. Sadly, today, for far too many high schools students in my state of California, such hope is not to be found. Too many of our young people's dreams go unrealized, and that has enormous consequences.

Put simply, our education system is not working for many students. Across California, nearly a quarter of students don't graduate from high school on time or at all. Graduation rates for Latinos and African Americans are even lower. And barely a third of the state's students who do graduate high school actually complete all of the courses needed for admission to a University of California or Cal State school. We're failing our students by not giving them the education they need.

The implications are clear: the economy suffers when our workers are not prepared. Unemployment among these youth is at a level not seen since the 1950s. Tens of billions of dollars are lost in wages and productivity as a result of dropouts, and our state's workers are not prepared for the jobs we do have and need filled.

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From the President: Building A Field

BY Jim Canales
Jim Canales
Jim Canales served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The James Irvine
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| Aug 07, 2013

Dear Friends,

A few weeks ago, we shared an interactive infographic on the progress of Linked Learning in California, an initiative in which Irvine has invested significantly over the past several years. Linked Learning seeks to prepare young people for success in college, career and life through an education reform that integrates work experience and professions with relevant and rigorous academics. Through the infographic, we shared voices from many of the players involved in Linked Learning, as well as preliminary data from an evaluation that shows promising and successful results.

As we released the report, I reflected upon what it takes to get to this level of coordinated work, with a diverse set of partners working together toward one goal. Obviously, clarity of strategy helps. So does a commitment to collaboration. But, in considering our work with Linked Learning, I’m reminded of an important tool that foundations can employ to create and sustain change: building a field. It has been our commitment to a field-building approach that, we believe, has been critical to the progress thus far.

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Linked Learning in Motion

BY Anne Stanton
Anne Stanton
As Director of the Youth program, Anne Stanton leads Irvine’s strategies to esta
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| Jul 23, 2013

I am excited to share with you Linked Learning in Motion, a new interactive infographic that illustrates the remarkable progress and growth of Linked Learning across California. With the launch of a new statewide pilot program that will bring Linked Learning to thousands more youth, and new evidence of Linked Learning's effectiveness, we thought this would be a good time to provide a snapshot of the great work of our grantees and other partners, and the exciting path ahead to prepare all of California's youth for success in college and career.

I invite you to review the infographic and share your thoughts and comments. If you are interested in hearing from students, teachers and parents, I encourage you to go the Voices page where you can watch video snippets from people who are experiencing Linked Learning first-hand.

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Irvine Board Approves $20.45 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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| Jun 17, 2013

Our Board of Directors approved $20.45 million in grants at its quarterly meeting last week. Of the 52 approved grants, 35 are in the Arts, 12 within California Democracy, and five in our Youth program.

Here are some highlights from these new grants:

Exploring Engagement Funds — We added 33 new grantees to the Exploring Engagement Funds as part of the Arts program's goal to promote engagement in the arts for all Californians. Grand Vision Foundation and Company of Angels are examples of grantees that are exploring new practices that deepen and expand connections with their communities.

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From the President: Which Way California?

BY Jim Canales
Jim Canales
Jim Canales served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The James Irvine
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| Apr 25, 2013 2

Dear Friends,

Here are four views of California from the national media, just in the past month:

“Far from presiding over a Greek-style crisis, Gov. Jerry Brown is proclaiming a comeback.”
Paul Krugman column, The New York Times, March 31

“You can laugh at the sunbaked barbarians, even wish them ill. But you should not fail to see in their fledgling renaissance another chapter in the American experiment, no less daring than the Golden Gate Bridge or the castle that Hearst erected at continent’s edge.”
Timothy Egan column, The New York Times, March 28

“The more powerful message is where people are going when they leave states like California and New York, two states ranked among the “least free” in a recent study by the Mercatus Institute. They are going to red states where, according to Mercatus, there is greater individual freedom, less government regulation and lower taxes. Earth to Jerry Brown: California, you have a problem.”
David Davenport column, Forbes.com, April 11

“But, in the end, Brown has done little but slap a temporary, inadequate patch on a dysfunctional system of financing and service provision that needs a fundamental rethink if California is to build a better future.”
Matt Miller column, The Washington Post, April 4

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Education Funder Conference Reinforces Power of Linked Learning

BY Aaron Pick
Aaron Pick
As Senior Program Officer of the Youth program, Aaron is responsible for develop
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| Nov 01, 2012

As a grantmaker, I get the opportunity to hear about how organizations are tackling some of the most pressing issues facing youth in our state. One of the events that I look forward to most is the annual Grantmakers for Education conference, because it gives me the chance to learn how other funders are thinking about systemic education reform, and highlights some promising practices taking place across the nation. This year’s conference brought together nearly 500 education grantmakers in New York City for keynote speeches, site visits and panel discussions. This format may sound similar to other conferences you have attended, but what do 500 education grantmakers actually talk about when they come together?

The hot issues at the conference are probably not surprising to anyone who follows education reform. College and career readiness, the Common Core State Standards, STEM, better use of data, collaboration, district-level reform and digital learning were all topics that had a lot of buzz. I was especially interested in a session on “College and Career Readiness: What Do We Mean?” that was moderated by former West Virginia Governor Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education. The session featured an engaging trio of panelists including Nader Twal from Long Beach Unified School District, JD Hoye from the National Academy Foundation (NAF) and NAF alumnus Michael Durant. Frameworks developed by both NAF and ConnectEd were presented to describe what it means to be ready for both college and career.

What I found to be most encouraging, though, is that all the big issues being discussed at the conference — including college and career readiness — tied incredibly well to what we’re doing collectively as a Linked Learning field. For example, sessions on the Common Core were packed, and seeing that level of interest continued to reinforce that Linked Learning is ideally positioned to be a central way districts deliver the Common Core standards.

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Irvine Board Approves $20.3 Million in Grants

BY Daniel Silverman
Daniel Silverman
A native Californian, Daniel Silverman leads the Foundation’s communications wor
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| Jun 18, 2012

Irvine’s Board of Directors approved more than $20 million in grants at its quarterly meeting last week. Of the 36 grants approved, 22 in the Arts, nine in California Democracy two in Youth, and one in Special Initiatives. In addition, two Special Opportunities grants were approved. Here are a few grants that we’re particularly excited about:

Exploring Engagement Fund — The grants include the first round under our Exploring Engagement Fund which demonstrates Irvine’s new Arts program strategy in action. The goal of the new strategy is to promote engagement in the arts for all Californians — the kind that embraces and advances the diverse ways that we experience the arts and that strengthens our ability to thrive together in a dynamic and complex social environment. Grants total more than $2 million to 20 arts organizations who are piloting new ideas to engage Californians in the arts.

Families in Schools — A $5.15 million grant was made to continue our Families in Education Initiative, which seeks to engage parents in educational decision making and advance new educational policies and practices in the San Joaquin Valley and Inland Empire. The initiative supports 11 community organizations in those regions and is administered by Los Angeles-based Families in Schools, which provides advice and technical assistance and strategizes with Irvine about how to maximize the initiative’s impact. This grant is part of the California Democracy program, which seeks to advance effective public policy decision making that is reflective of and responsive to all Californians.

ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career — Our Youth program promotes Linked Learning as a new approach to high school education that combines strong academics with real-world experience in a wide range of fields. This $5.725 million grant includes continued funding and substantial support to ConnectEd to serve as the intermediary organization managing the California Linked Learning District Initiative and to provide technical assistance to all nine districts for one additional year. This grant is part of the program’s Linked Learning Practice priority. Grants made as part of Irvine’s Youth program seek to increase the number of low income youth in California who complete high school on time and attain a postsecondary credential by the age of 25.

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California School Network Readies Students for College and Career

BY Daniel Silverman
Daniel Silverman
A native Californian, Daniel Silverman leads the Foundation’s communications wor
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| Jul 01, 2011
This article first appeared in Education Week, June 9, 2011. Reprinted with permission from Editorial Projects in Education.

To the national debate about whether students should pursue career and technical education or college preparation, a California program wants to add an emphatic declaration: Yes.

The refusal to choose between one instructional emphasis or the other symbolizes the work being done to build career pathways in nine school districts as part of Linked Learning, an initiative cited as a national model of career and technical education.

One of the places the project is unfolding is in a cluster of high schools in the Porterville Unified School District, which serves a predominantly Latino, low-income community here among the San Joaquin Valley’s olive and orange groves.

At one school, a half-dozen students huddle around big desktop computers. The complex formulas they’re calculating and programming into the computer will tell a robot how to restack blocks of blue and red cubes. When they give the robot the command, the job comes off perfectly. Barely old enough to drive, these students are learning to negotiate the real-world engineering that shapes manufacturing.

A few hallways away, teenagers master the high-tech tools of the performing arts world. Aspiring musicians sit at rows of electric pianos, listening through headsets to the music they create as it is automatically notated on computer screens. At another school, students juggle computers and soundboards to produce a morning broadcast.

When they’re not in classrooms, students from these schools are out in the community, working in local engineering companies, staging musicals with preschoolers, or helping design sound for a street concert.

The point, leaders of the work say, is to create a more relevant, engaging school experience for young people by blending the rigorous core academics they need for college with the career and technical education that prepares them for good jobs, and to do it in an applied, hands-on way that includes real-life work experience.

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Irvine Announces $17.6 Million in New Grants

BY Ray Delgado
Ray Delgado
Ray Delgado was with The James Irvine Foundation from 2006 to 2013, last serving
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| Jun 17, 2011

San Francisco The Board of Directors of The James Irvine Foundation has approved 15 grants totaling more than $17.6 million in support of the Foundation's mission of expanding opportunity for the people of California to participate in a vibrant, successful and inclusive society. (For a list of approved grants, click here.)

Advancing Innovative Ideas and Initiatives

Grants approved as part of the Arts program were made as part of the Arts Innovation Fund, which supports the state’s larger, established arts institutions, and included the Berkeley Repertory Theatre ($1 million), the Pacific Symphony ($850,000), and the San Francisco Ballet Association ($900,000). Irvine’s Arts program seeks to promote a vibrant and inclusive artistic and cultural environment in California.

Fostering Informed Public Involvement and Decision Making

Grants approved as part of the California Democracy program align with its Civic Engagement priority, including a grant to TransForm CA ($550,000) to engage diverse communities in the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California in major land use decisions. Irvine’s California Democracy program seeks to advance effective public policy decision making that is reflective of and responsive to all Californians.

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San Francisco Chronicle: Linking Courses to Careers Improves Grad Rates

BY Jim Canales
Jim Canales
Jim Canales served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The James Irvine
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| Jul 25, 2010

When Cynthia Gutierrez arrived four years ago at Skyline High School in Oakland, she was neither an academic superstar nor someone who struggled with school. Like most kids, she says, she was "somewhere in the middle." Bored with her classes, she'd left behind a trail of C's and D's, and with some bad luck, she might have even lost interest in school altogether. "I didn't know what I was doing," she says.

Instead, Gutierrez had a stroke of good fortune. During her freshman year, a teacher told her about Skyline's education academy, a small school within the school centered around careers in education. When she heard the program included regular field trips, she signed up. Gutierrez and 25 of her classmates spent the next three years taking classes together on education-related topics like child development and how people learn, combining a rigorous college-prep curriculum with student-teaching trips to local elementary schools. In the close-knit environment of the academy, Gutierrez found new motivation, and she discovered a love of teaching.

"Before, I couldn't really connect with my teachers all that well," she says. "But in the academy, it was different." Gutierrez's grades improved, even with a more demanding course load that qualified her for admission to the state university system. Her teachers say she blossomed into a leader. And in June, she earned something that far too many of California's young people do not: a high school diploma.

Students like Gutierrez are far from the exception in California's public schools, but they aren't nearly as much of the rule as California needs. Over the past 10 years, while graduation rates at high schools across the country have been climbing, many of California's high schools have gotten worse. One out of 3 students in our state still doesn't graduate from high school, severely limiting career options - and sending negative consequences rippling across the state's economy. Barely a third of those who do, meanwhile, are considered "college ready." For students of color and those from low-income households, these numbers are even worse, but for years, education experts have been struggling to find a way to close this widening achievement gap.
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Irvine Announces $8.6 Million in New Grants

BY Ray Delgado
Ray Delgado
Ray Delgado was with The James Irvine Foundation from 2006 to 2013, last serving
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| Jun 17, 2010

San Francisco The Board of Directors of The James Irvine Foundation has approved 15 grants totaling nearly $8.6 million in support of the Foundation's mission of expanding opportunity for the people of California to participate in a vibrant, successful and inclusive society. (For a list of approved grants, click here.)

Supporting Innovation Among Major Arts Institutions

Grants approved as part of the Arts program include $3.7 million to five major California arts institutions through Irvine's Arts Innovation Fund (AIF). The Fine Arts Museums in San Francisco, the La Jolla Playhouse, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the Music Center in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Symphony will each receive grants to support creative audience development approaches and/or innovative programming plans. All of the organizations are previous AIF grantees and some will receive funding to further institutionalize projects that were previously funded; others are proposing new innovations that will be developed. These grants are aligned with the goal of Irvine's Arts program, which seeks to promote a vibrant and inclusive artistic and cultural environment in California.

Establishing a Linked Learning Center

Grants approved as part of Irvine’s Youth program include a $750,000 grant to the Los Angeles Small Schools Center to establish a regional Linked Learning Center in Los Angeles. The center would support Linked Learning practice at Los Angeles Unified School District's Local District 4 while also providing specialized support to other Los Angeles area Linked Learning District Demonstration sites. The center will also identify potential new Linked Learning districts within LAUSD over the next two years. Grants made as part of Irvine's Youth program seek to increase the number of low income youth in California who complete high school on time and attain a postsecondary credential by the age of 25.

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From the President: Envisioning the New California High School

BY Jim Canales
Jim Canales
Jim Canales served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The James Irvine
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| Jun 16, 2010

Dear Friends,

California high schools have faced extraordinary challenges this year. State budget cuts and the economic downturn have forced many schools to resort to drastic measures, including teacher layoffs and shorter school years, to balance their budgets. And in a state where students already lag their peers elsewhere in the country in academic achievement, there is concern that these measures will only put them further behind.

Yet there are reasons to be optimistic about California's educational future, including the work of some of our grantees as described in this quarter's letter. The efforts of our partners demonstrate that despite the considerable, short-term fiscal challenges we face, the state's top educational policymakers have not lost sight of longer-term goals that ultimately will have more far-reaching impact on California's young people and our economy.

Last month, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell released a report outlining a bold vision for transforming California's high schools through an approach called Linked Learning. This approach, originally known as Multiple Pathways, seeks to engage more students and prepare them for college and career by combining the best of college-prep academics, demanding technical education and hands-on work experience.

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Irvine Announces $9 Million in New Grants

BY Ray Delgado
Ray Delgado
Ray Delgado was with The James Irvine Foundation from 2006 to 2013, last serving
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| Mar 12, 2010

San Francisco — The Board of Directors of The James Irvine Foundation has approved 13 grants totaling more than $9 million in support of the Foundation's mission of expanding opportunity for the people of California to participate in a vibrant, successful and inclusive society. (For a list of approved grants, click here.)

Of the $9 million, $4.5 million will fund the expansion of the California Linked Learning District Initiative as part of Irvine’s Youth program. $750,000 from the California Democracy program grant will fund Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education to conduct outreach related to state budget and fiscal issues. Additionally, a grant in the Arts program provides $300,000 to the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts to expand programming and audiences following the renovation of its facility.

Expanding the Linked Learning Approach

Irvine’s Youth program seeks to increase the number of low-income youth in California who complete high school on time and attain a postsecondary credential by the age of 25. Grants approved as part of Irvine’s Youth program include a $4.5 million grant to ConnectEd to develop, expand and support the California Linked Learning District Initiative, which supports nine high school districts to implement systems of Linked Learning pathways, which bring together strong academics, demanding technical education and real world experience in a range of fields such as engineering, arts and media, and biomedicine and health.

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Irvine Announces $10.2 Million in New Grants

BY Ray Delgado
Ray Delgado
Ray Delgado was with The James Irvine Foundation from 2006 to 2013, last serving
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| Oct 09, 2009

San Francisco — The Board of Directors of The James Irvine Foundation has approved 26 grants totaling nearly $10.2 million in support of the Foundation's mission of expanding opportunity for the people of California to participate in a vibrant, successful and inclusive society. (For a list of approved grants, click here.)

Of the $10.2 million, nearly $4 million will support 11 California arts organizations that are addressing challenges of building organizational capacities and financial stability. Another $905,000 California Democracy program grant will fund KQED’s statewide radio news coverage of significant policy and governance issues focused on California. Additionally, a grant in the Youth program provides $500,000 to strengthen the District Leadership Series of the California Multiple Pathways District Initiative.

Addressing Challenges of Organizational Capacities and Financial Stability

The goal of Irvine’s Arts program is to promote a vibrant and inclusive artistic and cultural environment in California. Grants approved as part of the Arts program include almost $4 million to support 11 California arts organizations through Irvine’s Arts Regional Initiative (ARI). These organizations will receive grants to advance financial sustainability within a challenging economic environment and to increase cultural participation from underrepresented communities.

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$11.3 Million Awarded to Expand High School Pathway Programs in 10 California School Districts

BY Daniel Silverman
Daniel Silverman
A native Californian, Daniel Silverman leads the Foundation’s communications wor
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| Jun 23, 2009

Berkeley, CA – The James Irvine Foundation and ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career, today announced grants to 10 California school districts as part of the California Multiple Pathways District Initiative. The Initiative aims to transform high schools districtwide by offering students a choice of at least six high‐quality pathway programs that prepare them for success in both college and their careers. Multiple pathway programs connect learning in the classroom with real‐world applications by integrating rigorous academic instruction with a demanding technical curriculum and work‐based learning.

After extensive district‐led planning processes including community involvement, a systematic assessment rubric was used to award the following six school districts two‐year grants of more than $1 million each to develop systems of multiple pathways: 

  • Antioch USD • Porterville USD
  • Long Beach USD • Sacramento City USD
  • Pasadena USD  • West Contra Costa USD
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Irvine Announces $21 Million in New Grants

BY Ray Delgado
Ray Delgado
Ray Delgado was with The James Irvine Foundation from 2006 to 2013, last serving
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| Jun 17, 2009

San Francisco The Board of Directors of The James Irvine Foundation has approved 21 grants totaling more than $21 million in support of the Foundation's mission of expanding opportunity for the people of California to participate in a vibrant, successful and inclusive society. (For a list of approved grants, click here.)

Of the $21 million, $3.3 million will support four California arts organizations that are developing innovative ways to deepen their engagement with audiences. A $750,000 grant through the California Democracy program will fund the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment to promote the systematic inclusion of low-income residents in Tulare, Kern and Kings counties in land-use decision making. Additionally, a grant in the Youth program will provide $11.3 million to implement comprehensive multiple pathways programs at various school districts within California.

Developing New Approaches to Attract Audiences for the Arts

The goal of Irvine’s Arts program is to promote a vibrant and inclusive artistic and cultural environment in California. Grants approved as part of the Arts program include $3.3 million to support four California arts organizations through Irvine’s Arts Innovation Fund (AIF). The American Conservatory Theater (ACT) in San Francisco, the Armand Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) and the Oakland Museum of California will each receive grants to support creative audience-development approaches and/or innovative programming plans. The grants fund new innovations at ACT and MCASD and help the Hammer and Oakland museums to institutionalize and sustain innovative practices that were funded by Irvine in 2006 as part of AIF.

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Preparing Youth for College and Career: An Interview with Anne Stanton

BY Daniel Silverman
Daniel Silverman
A native Californian, Daniel Silverman leads the Foundation’s communications wor
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| Mar 22, 2009

Over the past year, the James Irvine Foundation’s Youth program has refined its approach to education reform in California’s high schools. The result is a more targeted focus on multiple pathways as our core strategy for improving the chances that all California’s young people succeed in life.

As is well known, California’s high schools are not working for large numbers of young people. Almost a third of ninth graders will drop out of high school before graduation. And of those who finish high school, most will lack the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in college and the workforce.

One of the most difficult challenges facing high schools today is how to engage more young people in the serious learning that will ensure their success in school and in work. The stakes for our youth — and for California’s ability to compete in a global economy — have never been greater

Anne Stanton, Director of Irvine's Youth program

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