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Standing Together for Inclusion, Equity, and Opportunity

Dear grantees and other friends,

We awoke Wednesday morning to a new political reality that few of us expected. The future feels uncertain, but one thing is clear: There is important work to do.

I’ve spent the last few days listening to staff, grantees, board members, and leaders from across California to hear their thoughts about what that work entails. I’ve come to see that, before moving to action, we need to acknowledge and respect that many of us are afraid that the divisive rhetoric of this campaign will lead to lasting harm.

The normalization of racist, sexist, and xenophobic ideas has felt like an assault on our values and a threat to the safety of individuals, families, and communities. Economic and social disparities are fueling a politics of division, recrimination, and scapegoating. The inequities in our state mirror those of the nation, and many Californians feel left out or left behind.

I’ve also heard, time and again, a sense of good fortune and pride to live in California. Our state has made enormous progress expanding the electorate, integrating immigrants, improving wages and work conditions, and reforming our criminal justice system. We cannot underestimate the relative advantages of California’s diversity, innovation, ingenuity, and openness.

As an institution focused on California, we at Irvine are also hopeful. Our hope is fueled by a belief that our grantees’ work is more critical than ever and that we are focusing our resources on two of the most important issues of our time: expanding economic and political opportunity for Californians who are working but struggling with poverty.

We are committing our resources to protecting and advancing the inclusion of all Californians in an economy that works for everyone and a political system that hears and counts every voice. This includes immigrants, Californians in rural areas, families struggling in our cities, and others who feel left behind, unheard, and powerless.

So, we stand together with all of you who are working for inclusion, equity, and justice in California. Our program staff is reaching out to grantees to hear if the election results require a shift in direction and how we can help. We welcome you to reach out to us to share what you are thinking, learning, and what gives you hope.

We are also in the midst of listening sessions across the state to hear directly from low-income Californians about their hopes and struggles — and will share what we learn from that effort. This year’s campaigns and election have changed the political landscape, but they need not — and must not — change who we are. We remain committed to equity, inclusion, and opportunity.

We will search for common ground and support pragmatic solutions. And we will work alongside all of you to ensure that California continues to make progress and serve as an example to the nation for what is possible.

Thank you for your work and your leadership.


Don Howard
President and CEO