FY 2018 PROGRAM PLAN
To build a better Southern California by supporting nonprofit organizations to more effectively serve the underserved.
“The Weingart Foundation has made a full commitment to equity – a long-term commitment to base all of our policy and program decisions on achieving the goal to advance fairness, inclusion, and opportunity for all Southern Californians – especially those communities hit hardest by persistent poverty.”
Monica Lozano, Board Chair, and Fred Ali, President and CEO
FY 2017 Accomplishments
FY 2017 represented an important transition year where we not only made our commitment to equity explicit, but began to filter everything we do through an equity lens. As we began to implement new strategies to advance this commitment, we continued to listen and learn. In FY 2017 we:
- Expanded our presence and community engagement in our geographic areas of focus and other high-need, historically under-resourced communities.
- Increased our engagement with all of our applicants and grantees on the importance of diversity and cultural competency as key components to organizational effectiveness.
- Maintained Unrestricted Operating Support as our primary grant program, which represented over 70% of our funding in FY 2017. Priority was given to organizations working in our most underserved communities.
- Made larger grants to organizations whose work was in strong alignment with our commitment to fairness, inclusion, and opportunity for all Southern Californians – especially those communities hit hardest by persistent poverty. This included bringing new or expanded services to high-need, under-resourced communities, and organizations engaged in organizing, advocacy and systems level work aimed at addressing the root causes of inequity.
- Established a revolving Program Related Investment (PRI) Fund, extending the impact of our grantmaking program by supporting organizations needing capital to maintain or expand services in high-need, under-resourced communities.
- Commissioned the Equity Profile for Los Angeles Region, from PolicyLink and the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE). This report provides and analyzes data that can be used to understand disparities, guide strategy, support advocacy, and measure progress.
- Deepened our support in two key initiative areas: housing for homeless and low-income individuals, and immigration. Our immigration funding included support for the legal defense of individuals facing deportation hearings without access to counsel.
- Added two new members to our Board, both of whom have a long and distinguished track record of supporting the nonprofit sector and advancing social and economic equity in our region: Dr. Robert K. Ross, President and Chief Executive Officer of The California Endowment; and Miguel Santana, the former L.A. City Chief Administrative Officer, and currently the President and Chief Executive Officer of the L.A. County Fair Association.
- Used our voice and convening power to address inequity by bringing together over 170 key leaders from philanthropy, the nonprofit sector, government, business and labor for the Achieving Equity convening in Los Angeles.
- Began considering ways to align the Foundation’s investment program with our mission and equity focus.
FY 2018 PROGRAM PLAN
In our FY 2017 Program Plan, the Foundation announced a full commitment to equity. We stated that for us, equity means expanding opportunity by correcting the imbalances we see across racial, ethnic and socio-economic lines in our education, health, human service, economic and criminal justice systems. We made the decision to base all policy and program decisions on our commitment to advance social and economic equity across the Southern California communities in which we serve. This commitment will be realized through:
FY 2018 Planning Assumptions
Anxiety about the current administration dominated our program planning and listening sessions with nonprofit and community leaders. In our discussions with nonprofits and funders, leaders questioned how they should adapt to a new political reality. Many expressed concern about the prospect of losing the progress that has been gained on issues like health care and immigrant rights, as well as the possibility of significant reductions in government funding and program eliminations for the most vulnerable.
When we asked nonprofit leaders what they think we should do, the overwhelming response has been to maintain core practices. This includes continuing our practice of providing multi-year unrestricted funding that provides nonprofits with the flexibility to respond to unplanned circumstances and the capacity to adapt. In addition, nonprofit leaders universally endorsed our commitment to equity and urged us to use our voice and influence to encourage others to join us in this work. It has been particularly heartening to speak with nonprofit leaders who may no longer be competitive for Weingart funding, nonetheless compliment our equity agenda.
With all this in mind, we have reaffirmed the following Program Plan Assumptions for FY 2018:
Continuing infrastructure challenges limit nonprofit effectiveness, including insufficient unrestricted funding, limited operating reserves, and the failure of government as well as private funders to support the full cost of providing services.
Foundation leadership is needed in two key areas: 1) to engage in and support policy and advocacy efforts resulting in meaningful systems change that increases fairness and inclusion today, and expands opportunities for those facing the most obstacles; and, 2) to promote grantmaking policy and practice that supports and strengthens the nonprofit sector, especially in communities facing the most obstacles to opportunity.
In addition—given our goals to advance social and economic equity, the urgent need to respond to and protect communities from changing federal policies, and the importance of harnessing our collective efforts—we have added the following new assumptions for FY 2018:
Equity-based funding means actively soliciting and providing significant support to community-based organizations and collaboratives working in marginalized communities where skin color, economic status, gender, immigration status, disability, age, sexual orientation and zip code have prevented people from realizing the dignities and liberties everyone deserves.
Cross-sector collaboration with state and local government will become more critical in blunting the impact of regressive federal policies related to health care, human services, immigration, education and the environment.
FY 2018 Program Plan Strategies:
In order to achieve our mission and advance fairness, inclusion, and opportunity for all Southern Californians, the Foundation will use a number of complementary strategies throughout our entire service area, which includes the six Southern California counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, and Ventura. These strategies include:
Provide Unrestricted Operating Support (UOS) grants designed to improve the capacity and effectiveness of nonprofit organizations, collaboratives and coalitions working to meet essential needs, expand opportunity, and eliminate structural barriers for those communities and individuals facing the greatest obstacles to opportunity. In select cases, this may include making significant investments in organizations at an inflection point.
Based on data, give priority to organizations working to provide greater access, resources, and opportunities in high-need, under-resourced communities. High priority will be given to the Southeast cities of Los Angeles County and South Los Angeles.
Use the Foundation’s voice, influence and resources to lead a collective and cross-sector effort to co-create a shared vision of equity that advances fairness, inclusion and opportunity for all in Southern California.
In FY 2018, the Foundation has set a grant target of $32.4 million in grant payments.
GRANTMAKING PROGRAM AREAS AND GUIDELINES
The Weingart Foundation seeks to achieve inclusion and opportunity for all Southern Californians, especially for those who have historically been denied basic rights and services due to their income level, race, gender, immigration status, disability, age, sexual orientation, or zip code. To achieve this goal, the Foundation’s grantmaking program and other support is designed to strengthen the capacity and effectiveness of nonprofit organizations, collaboratives, and coalitions working to meet essential needs, expand opportunity, and eliminate structural barriers to equity.
Operating with an Equity Lens
The Foundation spent much of FY 2017 building out our equity agenda in consultation with nonprofit leaders and other key community partners and representatives. This resulted in a further refinement of our program plan and priorities, and specifically, the development of an equity lens to guide all of our decisions.
In addition to the guidelines outlined for each of our program strategies, the Foundation will first assess letters of inquiry and grant applications using an equity lens. Priority will be given to requests that address at least one of the following strategies:
Our grantmaking programs are also constantly evolving to more effectively meet our mission. In alignment with our focus on advancing equity, we have changed the Expanding Opportunities Fund (EOF) program strategy. The EOF had provided grants of $25,000 and under to organizations with budgets of $1 million and under. Effective FY 2018, the EOF will no longer be a separate program, but will instead be integrated into our Unrestricted Operating Support (UOS) program. All organizations will now be able to apply through the UOS program, regardless of budget size. This change allows our Foundation additional flexibility and efficiency in supporting smaller organizations focused on advancing social and economic equity. For information on our UOS application process and guidance on grant amounts, please visit our How to Apply page on our website.
UNRESTRICTED OPERATING SUPPORT GRANTS
Unrestricted Operating Support (UOS) is the Foundation’s primary vehicle for supporting and building the capacity and effectiveness of nonprofits, collaboratives and coalitions that are working to achieve equity in our most under-resourced communities.
Weingart Foundation’s grantmaking experience and information collected as part of the Foundation’s Learning and Assessment system indicate that when multi-year unrestricted funding is provided to organizations with clear and reasonable capacity goals and strategies, leaders are able to make the important investments in organizational infrastructure that are critical to their ongoing effectiveness. The Foundation believes that unrestricted funding is also essential to providing nonprofit leaders with the flexibility and nimbleness required to effectively manage and respond to the dynamic environment we all work in, and to make the best decisions for their organizations.
Goal: Strengthen the capacity and long-term effectiveness of organizations working to advance social and economic equity so they can better achieve their mission and overall strategic goals and priorities.
Strategy: The Foundation provides flexible, multi-year unrestricted support to carefully selected nonprofits that demonstrate an interest in, and an ability to increase their organizational capacity and effectiveness in order to advance equity in our region. This includes nonprofits providing essential, quality services in the areas of health, education and human services, as well as those engaged in community organizing, advocacy, civic engagement and movement building.
The Foundation recognizes that capacity needs may differ depending on where nonprofits are in their organizational lifecycle, and we are therefore committed to supporting organizations at different budget sizes, levels of capacity, and infrastructure. In addition, many organizations providing critical services in low-income communities are small and under-resourced. There is a need to build the capacity of these organizations in order to expand opportunity and strengthen civil society in the communities they serve. As noted above, smaller grants of $25,000 or less, formerly made through our EOF, will now be made out of our UOS program. In order to ensure that our grant process is commensurate with the grant amount, we have structured a more streamlined application process for organizations with operating budgets under $1 million.
Guidelines: All UOS requests shall meet the following criteria:
Organization’s mission, goals and programming are aimed at reducing barriers, increasing opportunity and/or meeting the essential needs of individuals and communities most impacted by historic inequities;
Demonstrate a commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion in their governance, staffing, organizational practices, and collaborative relationships;
Operating Reserves: On a case-by-case basis and after consultation with the grantee, Foundation program officers may recommend restricting a portion of an UOS grant for a grantee’s operating reserve. When appropriate, the Foundation will consider adding a condition on the reserve portion of the grant requiring a one-to-one match from the agency’s board or a one-to-one match from other private sources in order to encourage board engagement or additional private support.
For additional information on our application process, grant duration, and amounts, please visit our Grant Guidelines on our website.
PROGRAM RELATED INVESTMENTS
The Foundation augments its regular grant distributions by supporting a revolving Program Related Investment (PRI) Fund through an allocation from its corpus.
Goal: Provide capital to maintain or expand facilities and/or increase services to historically disadvantaged and under-resourced communities in Southern California.
Strategy: The Foundation’s revolving Program Related Investment (PRI) Fund will support a limited number of PRIs that will be restricted to loans with an interest rate that is lower than prevailing market rates for loans of similar duration, credit quality, and risk. The PRI Fund will provide affordable loans for nonprofit organizations in the form of bridge financing or working capital and leverage the Foundation’s PRI dollars with other funders or capital investments.
The PRI Fund will provide the Foundation with the flexibility to extend the impact and scale of our normal grantmaking for select organizations that advance equity by:
The Foundation does not accept unsolicited requests for our PRI Fund. If organizations would like to discuss a project, they should contact Rosa Benitez, Senior Program Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (213) 688-6320.
In FY 2017, we refined our capital funding guidelines to align with our equity commitment. These guidelines remain in effect in FY 2018. However, funding for capital grants is expected to be further reduced given the demand for Unrestricted Operating Support, and in consideration of the Foundation’s Program Related Investment Fund that provides low interest loans that can be used to support capital projects.
Goal: Support capital projects that strengthen the capacity and effectiveness of organizations working to advance social and economic equity.
Strategy: We anticipate making a limited number of capital grants. Grant requests will only be considered that:
The Foundation will accept unsolicited letters of inquiry (LOI); however, applicants are strongly encouraged to talk with a member of our program staff before submitting an LOI for capital funding.