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Our Focus

Our singular goal: a California where all low-income workers have the power to advance economically.

The California Dream — doing better than your parents — is increasingly out of reach for millions of working people. As our state and nation rebuild our economy, we have a chance — and an imperative — to do so in ways that honor, protect, and advance all workers.

California’s future is tied to the success of the millions of workers who live on low incomes, often in poverty. We invest in leaders and organizations that can address the daunting situation our state faces (before the fallout of COVID-19 and as we work to rebuild after it).


Almost one out of every three Californians earns low wages. That translates to 4.3 million low-wage workers. (Source: UC Berkeley Labor Center).


30% of California workers earned less than $18.02/hour in 2021. (Source: UC Berkeley Labor Center)


of Latinx and Black households in California lost earnings during the pandemic as of late 2020 (Source: California Budget & Policy Center).

We Believe

Every Californian — regardless of who they are or where they live — should have the opportunity to create a better life for themselves and their families.

Discrimination and exclusion — in policies and practices — have blocked opportunities for many individuals and communities.

California must level the playing field to help millions of low-income workers overcome historical barriers and institutional obstacles to prosperity.

Our Initiatives

We pursue impact through a portfolio of initiatives with specific goals, timelines, and grantees that inform our investments. Learn about our initiative model.

Additional Grantmaking

Investments that complement our initiatives, such as research and journalism

Exploratory Grantmaking

Learning how we might add value with new investments focused on specific issues

Transitioning Grantmaking

Areas of support we are culminating or integrating into other initiatives

The James Irvine Foundation Leadership Awards

Leadership. Innovation. Community.

Recognizing and supporting leaders who are advancing innovative and effective solutions to California’s most significant challenges.