California represents the hopes and successes that people have pursued for generations, yet too many Californians find themselves working harder and harder for less and less. In 2013, 40 percent of Californians lived in poverty or near the poverty line. Nearly 1.5 million working families in California are living in poverty, as well as nearly two out of every five young adults.
We support efforts to give all low-income workers in California the power to advance economically. This includes exploring ways to remove the systemic barriers that prevent too many Californians from achieving financial stability and political influence.
There is overwhelming evidence of the need for greater economic opportunities in California:
In 2014, almost 5 million working Californians made less than $14 an hour. That’s one out of every three workers. These Californians are mostly people of color.
In 2018, we commissioned a survey of California workers and found that 47% are struggling with poverty. One in four has put off seeing a doctor and/or cut back on food to save money, and six in 10 report workplace hardships, such as sexual harassment and having tips or wages withheld.
In other words, millions of Californians are working hard to get ahead, but they’re living on the brink. Our grantmaking will focus on supporting efforts to give low-income workers the power to advance economically so that more Californians are able to cover basic needs in a state with an increasingly high cost of living.
To support those creating opportunities for low-wage workers, we have – among other grantmaking – two multiyear initiatives.
Better Careers connects low-income Californians to good jobs with family-sustaining wages and advancement opportunities.
Fair Work engages low-wage workers to secure their wages, rights, and protections.
Read more about all Our Grantmaking.
As part of our focus, we partnered with local nonprofits to speak directly with young people and families who are working but struggling with poverty. In Community Listening Sessions held across the state in 2016, we heard firsthand the hopes, fears, challenges, and dreams of Californians. Hear from the people we spoke with and the insights we gained on irvine.org/cavoices or by downloading a summary of what we heard.