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Irvine’s 2024 Annual Review

I welcome you to explore Irvine’s 2024 Annual Review: Updates on Our Work, Giving, and Organization. Previously called our Portfolio Review, this is something we produce each year to be transparent and accountable for our constituents, community, and colleagues. It 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.  

In January, I wrote on our blog that I’m encouraged by some promising developments and signs in our economy — and the inspiring work of grantees to help us achieve our goal: a California where all low-income workers have the power to advance economically. We know that is no easy task, considering a dynamic, evolving job market and historic inequities that prevent women, people of color, and particularly women of color from full access and prosperity in our economy. 

Our Annual Review includes a statistical look at the economic security, job quality, and worker power for the lowest-paid Californians, as well as updates on our grantmaking. Last year we provided $180.3 million in grants, and this year we expect to give nearly $160 million. (The change is due to a formula we use to navigate the volatility of our payout and changing endowment. Our initiative grantmaking in 2024 will not be impacted by reductions in payout.) 

Excerpts from the Annual Review about some of our grantmaking last year include: 

  • Better Careers invested almost $34 million in 60+ grantees along with $4.5 million more through its community-advised New Fund process. The initiative’s three priorities are apprenticeships, community-accountable workforce, and public sector practice change. 
  • Fair Work provided 49 grants, totaling $36.9 million, as part of ongoing efforts to increase organizations’ engagement and support of workers, leverage worker voices to advance policy reforms that strengthen worker protections, and advance solutions to increase access to quality jobs and strengthen the public sector’s responsiveness to the needs of workers. 
  • Just Prosperity invested $28.5 million in 33 grantees for community organizing and advocacy — so their voices are represented at decision-making tables — as well as research and storytelling to amplify worker perspectives, and partnerships and new ideas that lead to a more equitable California. 
  • Priority Communities invested $40.8 million in 31 grantees in Fresno, Salinas, Stockton, Riverside, and San Bernardino to put low-wage workers at the center of efforts to create quality jobs locally. This includes strengthening local planning tables, building the capacity of community organizations to ensure workers have a voice in economic planning, and investing in small business development. 
  • Housing Affordability gave $9.1 million to support statewide, regional, and community-driven efforts to protect low-income tenants from eviction and displacement, preserve existing affordable housing, and produce new affordable homes. 

And because we cannot achieve our North Star goal alone, we also continued our collaboration with funders, the public sector, organized labor, and employers. This has been a particularly ripe opportunity recently because of the significant funding coming from the state and federal government to rebuild our economies, infrastructure, and to prepare for climate change.  

The Annual Review summarizes several of our efforts on this front, and just one example is the Community Economic Mobility Initiative. We launched it in 2022 with the Sierra Health Foundation to strengthen community organizations’ agency in how the $139 billion in state and federal funds are invested for infrastructure and economic recovery. Five other foundations have since joined, raising the fund for communities to $21.25 million.  

I also want to call attention to pages in our Annual Review about our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, particularly racial equity. In 2022, the Irvine board approved a statement outlining our long-term commitments to advance racial equity and address structural racism 

Since then, we have worked to operationalize these commitments in grantmaking, in our culture and talent system, and throughout our policies, procedures, and practices. The Annual Review shares more on that work, as does this great blog post from my colleague, Rajib Guha. 

We hope that our Annual Review is a helpful look back and forward regarding our investments to build community power, transform public systems, and advance racial justice to ensure low-income workers can thrive economically. For more ongoing Irvine news, please check out our blog and/or sign up for email updates. 

Masthead photo credit: Ted Soqui