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The Next Phase of Irvine’s Work

As we start the new year here at the Irvine Foundation, we have finished our move to a new strategy. And I am tremendously grateful to my colleagues at Irvine for their commitment to reimagining and transforming our work here at the Foundation.

We have completed the shift we began in 2016: moving away from the program-based model that is more common for foundations to one where all our efforts are directed toward a singular goal. That goal, for Irvine, is a California where all low-wage workers have the power to advance economically.

This transition has meant culminating our previous program-focused efforts and launching a new portfolio of grantmaking focused on our goal. A core aspect of this approach is large initiatives with specific timelines and outcome goals.

We have learned a lot in the past three years! For example:

  • Culminating grantmaking is difficult for the grantees affected, so we have aimed to do it as responsibly as possible. Over the last few years, we have funded the final stages of our past work in ways that, we believe, solidified impact, support grantees as they bridge to new funding, and sought to leave strong, sustainable fields. You can read more about culminating initiatives here.
  • Putting people at the center of our work opens us up to listening, learning, and adapting with the input of those we seek to serve
  • And naming specific goals we aim to achieve – particularly outcomes affecting individual lives – for our grantmaking initiatives requires us to embrace greater risk and accountability.

Going forward, our grantmaking will link to our foundation-wide goal at three levels:

  • We aim to support individual and family success through two major initiativesBetter Careers and Fair Work. We are also exploring how we can play a meaningful role in helping Californians access and retain affordable housing.
  • To strengthen communities, we continue our support in priority regions (places of great promise and demographic change that also have fewer philanthropic resources), testing a new pilot strategy in Fresno and Salinas.
  • And we aim to have statewide impact by supporting quality research and information, evidence-based policymaking and implementation, and constituencies – grassroots community groups, civic and business leaders, etc. – who can advocate with low-wage workers.

Meanwhile, we remain committed to responding to developments that affect low-wage workers. In recent years that has included efforts to protect immigrants’ rights and to help residents and service providers affected by devastating wildfires in our state.

Looking forward, we are eager to partner with the public, private, and nonprofit sectors in new ways. Our focus on economic advancement for low-wage workers is an issue that we believe cuts across ideologies and is critically important to every Californian. We seek to be a bridge-builder that works toward pragmatic solutions with everyone who cares about the future of low-wage workers and the viability of the state’s economy.

We will continue to share what we’re learning and thank you for all you do for California and its workers. And, we look forward to a new year of collaboration and progress.