At the end of 2017, we announced our Better Careers initiative to connect low-income Californians to good jobs with family-sustaining wages and advancement opportunities. Prior to the launch of this six-year initiative, we spent a year listening and learning from the field. We’ve captured insights from this journey that highlight how we arrived at our initiative goals. We will continue to listen and learn (and to share) efforts that help all Californians create a better life for themselves and their families.
Our work leading up to the announcement of the initiative and its goals was informed by a year of listening to grantees, employers, thought leaders, and other stakeholders across California. With the support of Monitor Institute by Deloitte, we engaged these groups in a series of interactive convenings and conversations to understand their perspectives, prioritize needs, and inform Irvine’s strategy. What we learned over the past year of listening helped inform our Better Careers approach.
Participant, San Diego Convening
A significant portion of Californians in the workforce are struggling with poverty.
To better understand the experiences of California workers, we partnered with the Public Religion Research Institute to survey more than 3,300 California residents, including more than 1,000 who are working but struggling with poverty. The findings provide us a unique snapshot of California’s workforce and how the views of those working but struggling with poverty compares to workers who are economically secure.
In 2019, Irvine commissioned a survey of Asian-American and Pacific Islander workers in California. Research and politicians often group AAPI Californians together, even though they represent a diversity of countries and speak more than a dozen languages. In the absence community-specific data, grouping multiple populations often masks experiences and perspectives. This survey offers detailed data for nine AAPI communities: Chinese, Filipino, South Indian, Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, Cambodian, Hmong, and Pacific Islanders. To learn more about how each population is faring at work and in achieving the California Dream, please read more from the report and our blog post on the findings.
Listening is an important part of Irvine’s strategy. If we – and others – hope to give low-income California workers the power to advance economically, we must understand their day-to-day experiences, their values and aspirations, and the challenges that they face at work and in their daily lives.
The California Workers Report reveals that the American Dream feels out of reach for working Californians – and harder to achieve here than in other parts of the United States.
2018 PRRI California Workers Survey
To better understand the challenges and hopes of these working Californians, we partnered with local nonprofits to speak directly with more than 400 residents across the state who could share their experiences, as well as the solutions that could make a difference in their lives.
Our new focus is to support efforts to give low-income Californians the power to advance economically — and to have their voices heard by those making decisions in and for their community. What we heard on the ground — the insights and stories shared by these Californians — will help inform our strategic focus and our future grantmaking.
Hear from several listening session participants about their ambitions, challenges, and fears, and from President and CEO Don Howard about why we held the sessions, and what we plan to do with what we learned.
We partnered with local nonprofits to hold 14 Community Listening Sessions across the state. Our goal in listening was to better understand the challenges and dreams of working Californians, and to hear about the solutions that could make a difference in their lives. We also asked people about the role of creativity in their day-to-day lives. This summary report shares common themes we head during the sessions.Read the Summary in English | Summary in Spanish | Summary in Traditional Chinese | Summary in Simplified Chinese
Community Listening Session Participant, Fresno
In 2014, we launched a three-year initiative to explore new ways to support programs that effectively serve California’s most vulnerable people. We partnered with the Nonprofit Finance Fund, a community development financial institution, to launch the California Pay for Success Initiative. Our goals were to find creative approaches to funding high-quality social services for California’s most vulnerable individuals, and to bring new, significant, and reliable resources to proven programs.
Three years ago, we launched the California Pay for Success Initiative as an experiment. With this time-limited project, we sought creative approaches to funding high-quality social services for society’s most vulnerable individuals, and to discover ways to bring resources to proven programs.Read the Story
Early this year, the James Irvine Foundation and Nonprofit Finance Fund launched the California Pay for Success Initiative to provide flexible funding and expert support for government and community leaders exploring opportunities to create Pay for Success agreements.Read the Story
In September 2017, the Nonprofit Finance Fund released a scorecard to share learnings from the California Pay for Success Initiative. These learnings led to the launch and development of several projects, and provides recommendations for how to accelerate social-sector transformation.