Irvine makes exploratory grants in areas that have the potential to become priorities for the Foundation.
Listening to and learning from working Californians, grantees who serve them, and other leaders is key to how we develop our grantmaking priorities and approach. This is true of our exploratory grantmaking, which supports effective organizations and solutions while also allowing Irvine, over time, to better understand how we might play a role in these spaces.
California’s small businesses employ nearly half of all private workers and are a common landing spot for Californians returning to work after unemployment. In 2021, we began to explore — through research, internal education, and engaging experts in the field — what role Irvine might play in supporting small business. We also learned from the approximately $20 million in Irvine investments related to small businesses across our other grantmaking.
In 2022 we made pilot grants to deepen learning and to engage with new grantees and stakeholders to inform a potential initiative. We will continue to explore possibilities in 2023, specifically how we can deepen our investments in small business through our existing initiatives.