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Community Leadership Project

A partnership to serve low-income and diverse communities, with funding from the Packard, Irvine, and Hewlett foundations.

The Community Leadership Project was an effort to strengthen grassroots organizations that serve communities of color and people living on low incomes in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, Central Coast, and San Joaquin Valley. The David and Lucile Packard, James Irvine, and William and Flora Hewlett foundations funded the project as part of longstanding supporting diverse and low-income communities tied to their missions.

The first phase of the project was April 2009 – December 2012, underwritten with $10 million from the three foundations. The goal was to build the capacity of community-based grantees. Twenty-seven intermediaries provided substantial support to 100 small organizations. They also offered trainings, workshops and leadership development opportunities to more than 300 additional leaders and organizations.

A midpoint evaluation by Social Policy Research Associates showed meaningful progress in various areas, and a second phase of the Community Leadership Project began in late 2012.
For this second phase, the project adopted a more focused goal of working to increase the sustainability of a new set of small, community-based organizations related to three elements: strong leadership, stable finances and the ability to adapt. In this phase, the project awarded $8 million in grants to five regranting intermediary organizations through 2015. Each community grantee selected by a regranting organization received at least $60,000 over three years, with an additional $20,000 for leadership and technical assistance.

An evaluation of the second phase showed that it was largely successful in strengthening grassroots organizations. For some, the impact of the assistance was dramatic: One grantee reported that they were about to close their doors at the beginning of the project and was able to run with a healthy surplus thanks to the training they received and the added confidence that it provided. Another grantee noted that, as a result of CLP, they were able to establish themselves as a stand-alone 501(c)(3) organization, which allowed them to better serve the community.

You can learn more by reading the document above — an archive of the Community Leadership Project website. Note: The site was last updated in 2016, and some links will not work. Evaluations of the project are still accessible in the document.