Message from Miguel A. Santana, President and C.E.O.

August 22, 2023

It is with mixed emotions that I announce that I will be ending my tenure as President and CEO of the Weingart Foundation effective September 30, 2023. I will embark on a new chapter as President and CEO of the California Community Foundation (CCF) starting October 16, 2023.

I have served the Weingart Foundation for more than seven years, initially as a board member and later as its chief executive. During that time, I am proud to have furthered the Foundation’s commitment to racial, social, and economic justice. Notably, we expanded our impact by integrating our grantmaking and endowment, resulting in over $88 million of mission-aligned investments in our community during the last fiscal year alone. This substantial investment represents more than 10% of the Foundation’s total assets.

We have also embarked on a journey of truth and reconciliation, a vital step in solidifying our commitment to being an anti-racist foundation. This process has enlightened our understanding of how racist policies contributed to the wealth we steward. This knowledge also grounds our commitment to our mission and the community.

I hold deep gratitude for the Foundation’s dedicated partners throughout Southern California, from Ventura, Orange and Los Angeles counties, the Inland Empire and the Antelope Valley, to South and East Los Angeles. I look forward to maintaining my relationship with these community partners in my new role at CCF.

My heartfelt appreciation extends to the Weingart Foundation Board of Directors, led by current Board Chair, Monica Lozano and past Chair, Aileen Adams. Equally, I extend my gratitude to the Leadership Team of Joanna Jackson, Vice President of Programs, Tim Ortez, Chief Financial and Investment Officer, and Brian Williams, Chief Operating Officer, and the entire Weingart team. We should all be comforted knowing the Foundation and its mission are in their very capable hands.

I look forward to working with the Weingart Foundation and the broader philanthropic community in the years to come to advance a more equitable and just Southern California for all Angelenos.

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

Message from Miguel A. Santana, President and C.E.O.

January 27, 2023

We are mourning the tragic loss of life during recurrent mass shootings in our country. Today, we grieve with the communities of Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay. Our sincere condolence goes out to all the families that lost loved ones during these senseless tragedies and our thoughts are with all those affected.

During difficult times, we turn to community for healing and strength. We are grateful to be inspired each and every day by our community partners and their tremendous effort to provide critical services, build community power, and transform unjust systems. We invite you to learn more about our partners by reading about our latest round of funding.

Investing in the Next Generation of Leaders

Young people today are leading the way in building a just and equitable future. We recently wrapped up the Youth Organizing Capacity Building Initiative, a collaborative effort with partner funders aimed at strengthening the ability of our community partners to lead youth organizing programs and establishing a peer learning community. Check out what we’ve learned and watch this video recap of the initiative: Youth Organizing Capacity Building Initiative Recap.

In step with our commitment to investing in future leaders, we’re proud to share that the applications for the John W. Mack Movement Building Fellows Program are now open. Named after the late civil rights leader and former Weingart Foundation Board Member, the John W. Mack Movement Building Fellows program aims to strengthen and develop current and emerging movement leaders to lead social and racial justice work that results in a more just and equitable Southern California region. Learn about eligibility and how to apply here. The deadline to apply is March 10, 2023.

Looking ahead at the year before us, we look forward to continue to advance our mission of racial justice working hand in hand with our community partners. Their unwavering commitment to community brings us hope.

Sincerely,

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

Message from Miguel A. Santana, President and C.E.O.: Celebrating Partnerships

February 22, 2022

We want to celebrate the relationships we are deepening with partners that are using bold ideas and bringing positive change in their communities.

With our partners, we are advancing in three areas that are important to us.

  • We support nonprofit organizations filling the gaps of inequity created by unjust systems;
  • We strengthen collaboratives and organizations working together to increase the positive impact they can have;
  • And we advance big ideas that bring about long term solutions to our region’s toughest challenges.

When it comes to big ideas, we continue to champion bold solutions to homelessness including through our work on The Committee for Greater LA, a group of civic leaders with the shared vision of using the pandemic recovery as an opportunity to advance a more equitable Los Angeles. The Committee recently released research exploring attitudes Angelenos have on the issues of homelessness. Read about what voters are saying in this L.A. Times article and watch the webinar where The Committee shared the findings. Voters have not given up on finding a solution to homelessness in Los Angeles and neither have we.

While we do a lot of work in the core Los Angeles region, our work and partnerships extend throughout Southern California. In this video, I highlight some of the work our new partners are leading. You’ll also meet:

  • Julissa Peña, Executive Director of the Santa Barbara County Immigrant Legal Defense Center
  • Torie Weinston-Serdan P.h.D., Chief Visionary Officer at Youth Mentoring Action Network
  • Norberto Santana Jr. Editor-in-Chief, Voice of O.C., and
  • Yongsuk “Jesse” Lee, Co-Founder and Executive Director at Street Company.

We look forward to working with these partners and many others as we advance social, racial, and economic equity together.

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

Message from Miguel A. Santana, President & C.E.O.: In the Wake of Injustice

November 19, 2021
Miguel A. Santana

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

The acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse is both unbelievable and yet sadly, believable. Unbelievable in that the act of violence and entitlement was clear and brazen, and yet justice was not served. Believable in that we live in a country where who you are still defines the treatment you receive by systems that purportedly exist to uphold equal justice for everyone.

This moment strengthens our resolve to fight for racial justice and reinforces why we do what we do. This moment is a call to action for all of us.

Together in Justice.

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.

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

April 29, 2021

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.

While I was born in this country, I always knew that for people like me, being American came with a condition. At an early age I was told that in this culture being American often equals being White. That was the message when I witnessed my father being held at gunpoint by White police officers for being a “wetback” in a town he supposedly did not belong in. I was reminded of this condition when my own daughter was reported to law enforcement by a White neighbor because he did not believe that she lived in the community where she grew up. For people of color, being American often has its limitations.

Today, in the rise of violence against Asian Americans, we are reminded of the unequal conditions placed on who gets to enjoy all the privileges of being an American. The presumption of who can be an American is also seen in the visceral hate spewed against migrant children seeking protection in a country they believe will embrace them, as this nation has for generations of refugees who crossed the Atlantic before them.

I was reminded what it feels like to be an American when the verdict for the murder of George Floyd was announced.

American history has demonstrated that fairness for a Black man in the judicial system is not to be expected. In this case, the American legacy of racial injustice was interrupted by the American value of equal justice.

As a foundation committed to equity and racial justice, we know that this moment did not happen in isolation. It took the work of activists, community organizers, youth, and people of all backgrounds to demand that justice be served for a Black man. It is their courage and the work of our nonprofit partners that gives us hope that we can still become a nation where everyone receives the same rights and privileges promised to all Americans, without condition. This remains a fight worth fighting. We are proud to be part of this struggle with them.

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