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Irvine’s 2022 Portfolio Review — making the most of this moment

The Irvine board met last week for our annual planning retreat at a pivotal time in the evolution of our state and at the Foundation. We sit at the precipice of a once-in-a-generation opportunity with public sector investments and public will to rebuild more equitably after COVID-19, to address the long history of systemic racism in economic opportunity, and to create a just transition to a climate resilient economy.

We discussed the tremendous opportunity and work ahead, including the significant deepening and expansion of our efforts at Irvine to ensure that every low-income worker in California has the power to advance economically.

We took stock of those efforts through our annual Portfolio Review — one way we aim to embody our values of transparency and accountability for our constituents, community, and colleagues. The review tracks data and developments related to our focus, grantmaking, people, and culture, allowing us to adjust as we learn from grantees and navigate external factors.

We reviewed this with a sense of urgency and responsibility to ensure our state can make the most of this moment. We see a tremendous need and opportunity to support community leaders and organizations so that they can lead the transitions that their regions’ economies must make to be more just and resilient.

The crises of these last two years call for us to rebuild with a focus on industries and planning that provide better careers and fair work for everyone, regardless of race, gender, country of origin, or your family’s socio-economic status.

We are pursuing these opportunities in several ways. A few examples include:

  • The board approved a new, multiyear grantmaking initiative to support advocacy and policy change that reflects low-income workers’ priorities. Just Prosperity will provide grants of nearly $80 million in its first four years to support organizations, partnerships, and new ideas that amplify worker voices, advance racial equity, and spark dialogue across the state.
  • We’re helping communities prepare to deploy significant state and federal investments to advance economic and racial equity. This includes supporting statewide technical support for grantees to participate in the state’s Community Economic Resilience Fund. We also approved a $14 million grant to the Sierra Health Foundation to build nonprofit capacity so that organizations, particularly those led by people of color, can better secure public funds to advance economic and environmental equity.
  • We’re making good on our commitment to embed racial equity in all we do. I will say more on that in coming weeks but am proud of the learning and evolving we have done in recent years, including fulfilling a $20 million commitment made in 2020 to support organizations addressing anti-Black racism and racial inequity.
  • We continue our deep investments in and learning from grantees in our existing initiatives: Better Careers, Fair Work, and Priority Communities (read more in the Portfolio Review).
  • We also committed, last year, up to $40 million over four years to support the innovations and policy changes to expand housing affordability, and we are exploring how supporting small businesses, particularly minority-owned, can advance economic opportunity for low income workers.

To deliver on these commitments, we are expanding our own capacity to deploy the resources we steward. We’re fortunate, due to impressive returns from our Investment team and managers, to be granting 45% more ($186 million total) in 2022 compared to last year, and we have added many talented new colleagues to support our grantees and operations. (Meet all our staff here.)

We’ve also added two new board members: Brenna Butler Garcia of Stockton and Teresa Matsui of Salinas have an impressive track record of working to better their communities, both of which are in the Foundation’s Priority Communities.

We know how daunting the year ahead will be for California and our country — great challenges remain — but we are grateful for the opportunities before us. I encourage you to read more about that and our reflections on recent work in our 2022 Portfolio Review.