August 26, 2021 News

Ending Anti-Black Racism in LA: A New Report and Action Plan from the Committee for Greater L.A.

The Weingart Foundation is proud to be a member of the Committee for Greater L.A., a group of civic leaders that organized at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure the recovery efforts prioritize LA County’s most marginalized communities.

The Committee’s Black Experience Action Team last week released its The Path to Justice Runs Through Equity: Ending Anti-Black Racism in Los Angeles report, a call to action for all with specific recommendations for addressing institutional racism.

Joanna Jackson, Vice President of Programs at the Weingart Foundation, serves on the Black Experience Action Team and has this to say about the report.

Message from Miguel A. Santana, President & C.E.O.: Reflections and Looking Ahead—The F.Y. 2022 Program Plan

July 29, 2021

I joined the Weingart Foundation as President and C.E.O. this past January with a strong appreciation for the role the Foundation plays in combating the historic and chronic barriers that have resulted in an inequitable Southern California. Since then, my appreciation for this work—and for the extraordinary leadership of our nonprofit partners—has deepened and grown.

Our work to build a more equitable Los Angeles is centered around three main strategies. 1) We support the nonprofit social justice sector in becoming stronger and more resilient; 2) we strengthen ecosystems, collaboratives, and collective action to increase impact; and 3) we work to advance systems change on broader issues like homelessness, immigration, and youth outcomes through cross-sector partnerships.

One of my first actions was to travel across our region to hear directly from communities—from South and Southeast L.A. to the the San Fernando Valley, the Antelope Valley, the Inland Empire, and Orange and Ventura counties. It’s important to us to cultivate authentic relationships with community leaders who are closest to the challenges and ultimately the experts in developing solutions. These leaders shared how they are responding to the pandemic, what opportunities lie ahead to advance racial justice, and the importance of supporting staff mental health and resilience. It was inspiring to hear how communities—with all they hold—are coming together in creative ways to address the inequities exposed by the pandemic, build grassroots power, strengthen cross-racial solidarity, and achieve big and bold systems change.

In order to make sure the recovery prioritizes those most affected by the pandemic, we joined with others to form the Committee for Greater L.A., a cross-sector group of civic leaders with the vision to advance systems change and dismantle the institutions and policies that have perpetuated institutional racism. Through the Committee, we put forth a plan to fix the fragmented and ineffectual way L.A. addresses homelessness. The Weingart Foundation also made significant commitments to collaboratives advancing racial justice and Black power, including the California Black Freedom Fund and the Black Equity Initiative of the Inland Empire. And we quickly funded grassroots organizations working around the clock to ensure a fair census, to get out the vote during an historic election, to respond to wildfires, and to provide food, healthcare, housing, and vaccines in impacted communities of color. Our work last year was bolstered by our Board’s decision to increase the Foundation’s grant payout by $16 million.

Looking ahead, the Foundation’s current grantmaking priorities and practices will remain in place through the 2021-2022 fiscal year. Our F.Y. 2022 Program Plan builds on our existing framework and focuses on addressing structural racism—including the continued focus on anti-Black racism—and socioeconomic injustice throughout our Southern California region. We’ll continue our proactive grantmaking and impact investing with Black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities that are the most impacted by injustice and will invest heavily in their infrastructure and collective needs. This includes partnering with initiatives like Bold Vision 2028, as well as exploring ways to better support the sustainability, resilience, and mental and emotional health of the social justice sector, starting with an assessment of best practices and needs among immigrant rights organizations.

I am proud to share that the Foundation is also launching a critically important process of internal reflection and learning. When we first made our full commitment to equity in 2016, we also committed to ongoing organizational transformation and evolution. We realized then that work of racial justice requires us to go deep. For this reason, we will embark on a “truth and reconciliation” journey to look intentionally and comprehensively at how to further align ourselves with our racial equity mission from the inside out. The process will start with delving into the origins of the Foundation’s wealth in the context of Southern California’s broader history of real estate development, racial exclusion, and indigenous displacement. In addition to our origins, we’ll also look at the ways that our culture and practices continue to perpetuate the racism that permeates our society at large. Our goal is that our our racial justice mandate fully informs our organization, our relationship with the community, and our long-term funding priorities.

As we plan for the future, I believe it’s important to look back and reflect on the many lives lost over the past year—our beloved community leaders, nonprofit staff, colleagues, friends, and family members. Lives lost to COVID, and lives lost due to deeply entrenched structural racism, police brutality, and white supremacist hate. May we honor their memories by rising to meet this moment of racial reckoning and transformation.

Miguel A. Santana
President & C.E.O.

To read the F.Y. 2022 Program Plan, click here.

June 2021 News

Paying Nonprofits Fairly—Q&A with Dr. Va Lecia Adams Kellum

It’s no secret that nonprofits are often underpaid in their government contracts for providing critical services to the community’s most vulnerable members. And for nonprofits based in, staffed by and serving communities of color, these unsustainable contracting and reimbursement practices present a huge barrier in accessing public resources to fund their work or pay their staff a livable wage.

At the Weingart Foundation, we are committed to supporting efforts to ensure that nonprofits are fully reimbursed for their costs—both direct and indirect—for services that public agencies contract them to provide. Vera de Vera, Program Director, leads our work in this area and recently spoke with Dr. Va Lecia Adams Kellum, President & C.E.O. of St. Joseph Center—a countywide provider of housing, mental health and wellness services, education and workforce training to help individuals and families live healthier, happier lives. In this Q&A, Dr. Adams Kellum shares her perspective on improving the contracting and reimbursement systems between local governments and nonprofits. To read the Q&A, click here.

 

Black Equity Initiative of the Inland Empire—Nonprofit Spotlight

The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many others ignited a national reckoning with systemic racism and the ways it has fueled police violence and exacerbated health disparities amid the Covid-19 pandemic. This reckoning is especially important in the Inland Empire, home to the third largest Black population in California, 15 jails and prisons, and a visible white nationalist presence that violently opposes Black lives.

In our new Nonprofit Spotlight, we are proud to highlight the critically-important work of the Black Equity Initiative of the Inland Empire (B.E.I.-I.E.), which strives to improve social conditions in the region through empowerment, education, and policy change. Click here to read the B.E.I.-I.E. Spotlight.

 

Investing in Latinx and Diverse Tech Entrepreneurs

The Weingart Foundation is pleased to join with Bank of America, the Ford Foundation and others in partnering with VamosVentures Fund, one of the first Latinx-owned funds to focus on early-stage investments in technology-enabled companies led by Latinx and diverse founders. The $50 million fund will focus on several high growth industries that are disproportionately influenced by diverse consumers. Among the fund’s priorities are health and wellness, future of work, consumer packaged goods, and financial technology, with initial check sizes ranging from $250,000 to more than $1 million. Click here for more information on the VamosVentures Fund.

April 2021 News

Message From Miguel A. Santana, President & C.E.O.: Reflection

I remember the first time I felt like an American. On my cross-country trip to New England to begin my graduate program, I stopped at Port Huron, Michigan at an address handwritten on the back of a black and white photograph of my paternal grandparents. In the 1920s it was the home of Victoria and José Santana. These two young immigrants from the central coast of Mexico settled in the furthest edge of the U.S.-Canadian border to pursue a better life. A decade later, they were forced to return to Mexico with their American daughters in the face of the anti-Mexican hostility that emerged at the onset of the Great Depression. Standing in front of this small wood-frame house, in a town built by steel mills that fed a burgeoning automobile industry, connected me to the American history that seemed to belong to someone else. To read Miguel’s full message, click here.  

Announcing the 2021 John W. Mack Movement Building Fellows

The Weingart Foundation is excited to announce the second cohort of the John W. Mack Movement Building Fellows program, which is designed to strengthen the network of next-generation social justice and racial equity leaders in Southern California. The program seeks to build the region’s social movement infrastructure by supporting a robust network of leaders committed to realizing a long-term vision of justice and equity for all. Fourteen emerging leaders have been selected to engage in transformative leadership development training, peer learning and coaching over an 18-month period. Congratulations to our new cohort! Click here to view the list of 2021 Fellows.  

Los Angeles Must Commit to an Equitable Recovery

Over the next few years, all levels of government are expected to receive an unprecedented infusion of federal dollars that could total more than $3 billion between the county and city of Los Angeles. These funds present an historic opportunity to address our shared legacy of systemic racism by making direct investments into the communities that have been hardest hit by the pandemic. The Weingart Foundation calls on every institution—in the private sector, social sector, government and philanthropy—to dig deep and find ways to help create and fund the type of transformative change that is so urgently needed. Click here to read the recent op-ed.  

Private Equity Impact Investing for Supportive Housing

Philanthropy has helped house thousands of people experiencing homelessness using traditional funding methods. We at the Weingart Foundation believe, however, that our region simply cannot make meaningful progress in support of our unhoused neighbors without finding new ways to house more people faster and cheaper. In response to this need, the Foundation recently invested in the S.D.S. Capital Group’s Supportive Housing Fund (S.H.F.), a first-of-its-kind private-equity impact fund that finances new, financially-sustainable permanent supportive housing for individuals experiencing homelessness. Instead of drawing on limited public sector sources that take tremendous time and effort to secure, projects like S.H.F. rely on private-sector capital. This model enables S.D.S. to close on projects in 30-60 days, scaling development volume and velocity—with nearly all the units expected to cost less than half the cost for similar projects in Los Angeles. Click here for more information on the S.D.S. Supportive Housing Fund.

March 2021 News

Expanding Vaccinations in Impacted Communities of Color

Over the past several weeks, the Weingart Foundation has provided $1 million in rapid response support to a number of community clinics that are working around the clock to vaccinate working class Black, Latinx and other communities of color. Community-based organizations continue to be at the forefront in pushing for vaccination allocations in impacted communities of color, engaging in outreach and education, and fighting relentlessly against systemic barriers designed to exclude those who most need these life-saving doses.

We are proud to support an innovative partnership between a coalition of clinics led by St. John’s Well Child and Family Center with S.E.I.U. Local 2015 to vaccinate 60,000 community members across the county per week. The Foundation has also played a key role in raising $1 million from the philanthropic community for this project. In addition, we are supporting vaccination efforts in the Southeast L.A. cities and providing unrestricted operating support to a number of key clinics in underserved neighborhoods across the region, including in South L.A., the Antelope Valley, Central and East L.A., and the San Gabriel and San Fernando Valleys. It is only when the working-class communities of color most impacted by the pandemic are made safe and whole that we will be able truly emerge from this time.

 

Empowering Pacific Islander Communities – Nonprofit Spotlight

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities have been deeply impacted by the pandemic, facing economic impacts, sickness, and death at high levels that exposed deep and ongoing inequities. We are proud to highlight the work of Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (E.P.I.C.), a partner based in Los Angeles that is doing critical work to respond to immediate needs while building community leadership. To read the E.P.I.C. Spotlight, click here.

 

Staff Leadership

We are pleased to share two recent staff changes at the Foundation. Joyce Ybarra has been promoted to Director, Grant Operations, and in this role will take over the management of the Foundation’s day-to-day grantmaking. Previously our Director of Learning, Joyce has extensive experience as a grantmaker and manager. She first joined the Foundation in 2009. Joyce will be working in close partnership with Joanna Jackson, Vice President, Programs, who will now focus on broader strategy and alignment across our program areas.

January 2021 News

Message from Fred Ali, President & C.E.O.
With Gratitude and Thoughts for the Future

This is my last President’s message, and over the past few days, I have been trying to figure out what to write. Probably overthinking things, because more than anything else, I want to express my profound gratitude to our nonprofit and cross sector partners, my colleagues in philanthropy, and the Board and staff of the Weingart Foundation. Over the past 22 years, you have taught me much, inspired my thinking to action, and amazed me with your unwavering commitment and dedication to making Southern California a better place for all.

We have all accomplished a lot together, and there is much more to do as we envision and work toward a more equitable and just Southern California.

To read Fred’s full message, click here.

 

Q&A with Two John W. Mack Movement Building Fellows

In early December 2020, the inaugural cohort of the Weingart Foundation’s John W. Mack Movement Building Fellows program participated in their final convening. The Fellowship is a pilot program designed to strengthen the network of next-generation social justice and racial equity leaders in Southern California. The Weingart Foundation recently had the opportunity to ask two of our outgoing Fellows, Janel Bailey and Cheyenne Reynoso, what they would like to share with others—including peers in movement work, individuals interested in applying for the Fellowship, and the philanthropic community—about their experiences as a John W. Mack Fellow. To read the Q&A, click here.