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A Look Inside: How we Selected Grants for Arts’ Exploring Engagement Fund

BY Rick Noguchi
Rick Noguchi
Rick Noguchi has been with Irvine since 2008 and helps oversee many of the Found
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| Jul 15, 2013 1
One of the common criticisms that foundations hear from grantseekers is that we aren’t always clear about how we make decisions about grants. It can be frustrating for a grant-seeking organization to try to understand why they did not receive a grant, while similar organizations did. Foundation funding can be a critical source of income, particularly in the arts, so it’s understandable that arts nonprofits want better insight into our decision-making processes.

With that in mind, I would like to share some thoughts about grant decisions we made for one of our funds in the Arts Program here at Irvine, the Exploring Engagement Fund for Large Organizations (EEFLO). While each of our funds has unique considerations, these insights will give you a sense of how we make grant decisions regardless of the particular fund. (EEFLO is for a select group of arts organizations with annual operating budgets above $5 million.

The family of Exploring Engagement Funds falls within our Piloting priority. Piloting grants are designed to help organizations experiment with new ways of engaging Californians in the arts. Since experimentation can be daunting when financial resources are limited, EEFLO is designed to provide “risk capital” to allow arts organizations to take a risk, to experiment with project ideas that might engage more and different kinds of people than those who are typically drawn to their venue.

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Opportunity for an Exchange

BY Jim Canales
Jim Canales
Jim Canales served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The James Irvine
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| Jul 11, 2013

During my first few years as Irvine’s CEO, the tools available to me for communications were far more limited than today. I gave speeches, which often involved standing behind a podium and delivering a prepared text that had gone through multiple iterations. I wrote annual report letters which, at that time, represented one of the very few opportunities to communicate with a broader audience about the Foundation’s activities and our learning. Many of the forms of communication I used were both formal and designed to be one-way in nature, with little opportunity for interaction or exchange.

Today, the nature of communications has evolved and, with it, the importance of adapting to new modes and styles. For example, TED Talk formats frequently replace formal speeches, tweeting and blogging provide ample opportunities to share ideas in real time, and technology offers multiple channels to reach many different audiences and to engage with them at practically any time.

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Protecting and Improving the Right to Vote

BY Catherine Hazelton
Catherine Hazelton
As a Senior Program Officer for the California Democracy program, Catherine is e
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| Jul 03, 2013
As we celebrate our democracy this Fourth of July, it seems especially appropriate to recognize the many Californians protecting and improving one of our most cherished traditions: the right to vote. For the past two years, Irvine has been supporting about two dozen inspiring leaders working together to expand voter participation and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of California’s election systems.

Earlier this year, the groups participating in this initiative, known as The Future of California Elections (FOCE), published a list of priority goals for 2013. And just last month, the Irvine Board of Directors authorized nine grants totaling more than $3 million over two years to support FOCE Steering Committee members as they seek to achieve these ambitious goals. Irvine expects to make additional FOCE-related grants later this year.

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In the News: June 2013

BY Thuy Nguyen Kumar
Thuy Nguyen Kumar
As Communications Project Manager, Thuy provides project support for a broad ran
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| Jun 28, 2013

In June 2013, the following published articles mentioned the work of the Foundation or our grantees:

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Yes, Foster Collaborations, But How?

BY Amy Dominguez-Arms
Amy Dominguez-Arms
As Director of the California Democracy program, Amy leads strategies aimed at i
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| Jun 25, 2013

The following is a blog post Amy Dominguez-Arms wrote for the Social Impact Exchange blog during the organization’s recent conference on Scaling Impact, on June 18-20 in New York City.

I was re-inspired by my fellow panelists and other speakers at the Social Impact Exchange Conference this week about the many ways philanthropy can contribute to social good. At the same time, I was struck by the complexities involved in how we select and exercise different roles.

During our panel discussion on “When is Philanthropy
(Ir) Relevant?” Sam Karp of the California HealthCare Foundation described his foundation’s leadership of an eleven-state, cross-sector collaborative to develop a standardized user-friendly interface for health care enrollment connected to implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Sharon Alpert of the Surdna Foundation talked about Surdna’s work to support and network city officials across the country and others dedicated to implementing sustainability strategies. And, at the opening luncheon on Wednesday, Rip Rapson shared the Kresge Foundation’s impressive multifaceted effort to reinvigorate Detroit’s economy. In each case, funders had identified an opportunity to tackle a critical issue by pulling together creative cross-sector partnerships.

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Arts Grantees Explore Arts Engagement

BY Jeanne Sakamoto
Jeanne Sakamoto
Jeanne Sakamoto has worked at Irvine since 2004 and helps oversee many of the Fo
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| Jun 18, 2013
Last Friday, our board approved 27 new grants as part of our statewide Exploring Engagement Fund and another six grants as part of our more targeted Exploring Engagement Fund for Priority Regions (focused on the Inland Empire and San Joaquin Valley). We are now partnering with 86 grantees across the state to experiment with a wide variety of new arts engagement opportunities for Californians.

With this latest round of grants, organizations from Ukiah to Fresno to San Diego will be experimenting over the next two years with new models of arts engagement. While each project is distinct to the organization’s expertise, community and artistic discipline, we saw some recurring themes across this diverse set of grants.

For many organizations, Exploring Engagement Fund projects will help them connect to specific types of audiences and participants that may have had little contact with the organization or the art form it presents. The Anaheim Ballet, for example, will connect to new audiences in new ways through a series of unexpected, brief dance performances and participatory instruction sessions in nontraditional spaces during peak pedestrian traffic times, attempting to spark interest in and conversation about their art form.

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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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Guest Post: What Happens “When the People Draw the Lines”?

BY Raphael J. Sonenshein
Raphael J. Sonenshein
Raphael J. Sonenshein is the Executive Director of the Edmund G. “Pat” Brown Ins
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| Jun 12, 2013

By Raphael J. Sonenshein, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs at Cal State Los Angeles

Back in 2008, California voters narrowly approved a ballot measure to turn the state’s redistricting process upside down. Instead of Sacramento’s incumbent elected officials (and sometimes judges) drawing the lines, the job would be handed over to a citizen commission. Two years later, the voters added congressional districts to the commission’s charge. By 2011, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission was up and running.

The League of Women Voters of California and The James Irvine Foundation asked me to research and write an independent assessment of this new redistricting process. The result is the report issued this week, “When the People Draw the Lines.”

I found that the citizen redistricting process was essentially successful. At the same time, it was clear that the commission faced some organizational obstacles that need to be corrected in time for the next citizen redistricting commission.

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Irvine In The News: May 2013

BY Thuy Nguyen Kumar
Thuy Nguyen Kumar
As Communications Project Manager, Thuy provides project support for a broad ran
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| Jun 01, 2013

Strengthening College Connections

BY Kenji Treanor
Kenji Treanor
Kenji Treanor has worked at Irvine since 2004 and helps oversee Youth program gr
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| May 24, 2013
Educators have been working to extend the impact of Linked Learning by strengthening connections between high school and community college, sharing practices and data as part of the California Community College Linked Learning Initiative (CCCLLI). Earlier this month, as I attended a CCCLLI event in Sacramento, I found myself excited by some early results.

The initiative is showing promising signs of improving students’ success. Specifically:

  • At Pasadena City College, the overall grade point average of students in the CCCLLI-supported program was 3.31 compared to 2.74 for non-program students.
  • At Sacramento City College, 93% of students in the CCCLLI-supported program completed at least 13 units in their first semester compared to just 21% of non-program students who completed 13 units within six semesters.

These early outcomes from within the initiative – which includes high school and community college educators from eight sites across the state – are very encouraging as Irvine strives to strengthen Linked Learning students’ transition into college and attainment of credentials. All of the CCCLLI sites are using five strategies toward this objective:

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Aaron Pick
2 post(s)
"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
16 post(s)
"As Director of the California Democracy program, A..."
Angela Glover Blackwell
"Angela Glover Blackwell is the founder and CEO of ..."
Anne Stanton
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Anne Vally
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Catherine Hazelton
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Chris Henrikson
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Connie Malloy
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Don Howard
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Doug Chapin
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Ekta Chopra
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Greg Avis
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Hilary McLean
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Jeanne Sakamoto
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Jennifer Ortega
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Jim Canales
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John Jenks
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Josephine Ramirez
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Joyce Sood
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Karthick Ramakrishnan
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Kenji Treanor
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Kevin Rafter
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Lisa García Bedolla
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Manuel Pastor
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Mark Baldassare
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Ralph Lewin
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Raphael J. Sonenshein
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Ray Delgado
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Reshma Shamasunder
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Rick Noguchi
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Stephen Levy
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Ted Russell
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Thuy Nguyen Kumar
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Vince Stewart
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