Grants & Impact Investing
F.Y. 2022 Program Plan
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.
One year ago, the Weingart Foundation released our F.Y. 2021 Program Plan in direct response to the multiple crises we were collectively facing: the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic crisis, and deeply entrenched racial injustice. The Plan articulated the Foundation’s commitment to target resources on addressing the structural inequities and systemic racism, particularly anti-Black racism, that had been exposed by the pandemic and to investing in the nonprofit organizations and grassroots organizers leading the way in confronting those issues. That commitment was strengthened by our Board’s decision to increase our payout through F.Y. 2022 by a total of $16 million.
The Foundation’s Unrestricted Operating Support (U.O.S.) program remained our primary grant strategy to support our nonprofit partners through this extraordinary period. We also responded to emerging needs and opportunities to advance equity and justice through a targeted Strategic Opportunity Fund; extended the impact of our grantmaking in communities of color with low-interest loans through our Program Related Investment Fund; and sustained our targeted social justice leadership work through our Youth Organizing and John W. Mack Fellows programs. The Foundation also maintained its special focus on Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Housing Justice, the regions of South Los Angeles and Southeast Los Angeles County (SELA), and Strengthening Nonprofit Effectiveness.
In addition to the many organizations we supported, the Foundation also partnered and engaged in collaborative and collective action efforts in alignment with our special interest areas and our focus on long-term structural and systemic change. Among them are The Committee for Greater L.A., the California Black Freedom Fund, and the L.A. Justice Fund.
Looking forward, the F.Y. 2022 Program Plan maintains our existing framework and focus on addressing structural racism—including the continued focus on anti-Black racism—and socioeconomic injustice throughout our Southern California region. We will continue our proactive grantmaking and impact investing to partner with the organizations and coalitions led by and working with Black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities that are the most impacted by injustice and will invest deeply in their infrastructure and collective needs.
Our equity commitment also encompasses our own policies and practices. In F.Y. 2022, we will engage in a facilitated process to interrogate and deepen our internal organizational alignment with our stated goals to advance racial equity and inclusion and to build power in communities most impacted by injustice. We will also look at the origins of the Foundation’s endowment in the context of Southern California’s history of racial exclusion, asking the question of what an honest accounting of our history means for us today. This internal work will inform the Foundation’s planning and approach in F.Y. 2023 and beyond.
These planning assumptions were developed in large part through listening and dialogue with our nonprofit partners.
Forces Impacting Communities
- The structural inequities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to disproportionately burden Black, Indigenous, immigrant, and other communities of color driving ongoing essential service needs and demands for structural change. Public recovery efforts may perpetuate long-standing inequities if the solutions do not center the communities most impacted.
- Nonprofits working in and serving BIPOC communities have done tremendous work in recent years; many have grown individually and in their collaborative systems change strategies to address the issues facing their communities. While programmatic work has expanded for many, funding for organizational infrastructure has not increased accordingly, leaving many nonprofits with mounting infrastructure needs. Nonprofit staff also need respite, mental and emotional health supports in order to promote healing, resilience, and sustainability.
- As nonprofits face continued high service demand and expanding opportunities for systemic change, the influx of government funding and growth in public contracting, while critical, may further strain nonprofit infrastructure if full cost and necessary contracting reforms are not taken into consideration.
- The movements for racial and social justice that reached extraordinary heights and won significant victories in the past year see ongoing opportunities for structural change but will also face serious opposition and attempts to divide communities of color. Broader public attention and support may also wane.
- A truly equitable recovery will address the long-standing barriers BIPOC and women entrepreneurs face in accessing capital. These barriers are the result of systemic inequities that created and perpetuate a racial wealth gap.
Implications for the Weingart Foundation
- The organizations, coalitions, and movement leaders on the front lines need continued deep investment to not only protect recent wins and ensure proper implementation of new policies, but to capitalize on historic opportunities and continue the long-term fight for equity and justice.
- Multi-year unrestricted funding and other targeted support are essential for organizations, coalitions, and networks to effectively meet immediate needs, address long-standing inequities, and advance their organizational and collective goals.
- Economic relief efforts over the past year did not reach the vast majority of BIPOC-owned/led small businesses and nonprofits. There is a continued need for more significant investments in BIPOC nonprofits and small businesses including targeted, flexible, and less restrictive lending products.
- The Foundation has an opportunity to support and play a leadership role in cross-sector collaborative efforts to address systemic change, particularly in the areas of racial equity and cross-racial solidarity, housing justice, immigrant rights, outcomes for BIPOC youth, and advocating for more equitable and effective funding practices.
Grants and P.R.I.s
Unrestricted Operating Support
Program Related Investments
The Foundation’s Program Related Investment (P.R.I.) Fund provides below-market, flexible financing in alignment with our focus on advancing racial, social, and economic justice. P.R.I.s will be considered for working capital, bridge loans, acquisition, and predevelopment financing, as well as equity. The Foundation will also selectively consider loan guarantees. For more information on our P.R.I. fund, click here.
Strategic Opportunity Fund
We maintain flexibility to respond to emerging and unexpected opportunities and challenges through our Strategic Opportunity Fund (S.O.F.). Grants made through the S.O.F. will support specific programs or purposes with the overarching goal of advancing racial and socio-economic justice in existing priorities areas. The S.O.F. will continue to prioritize collaborative efforts and collective action for systemic change and power building, and particularly those projects emerging from the Committee for Greater L.A. and Bold Vision, as well as the Foundation’s other areas of Special Interest. On a more limited basis, we may consider collaborative efforts that address urgent safety net needs. As with our U.O.S. program, S.O.F. grants will continue to be invite-only. For more information on the Strategic Opportunity Fund, click here.
Youth Organizing Capacity Building Initiative
We are entering the final year of this three-year initiative designed to strengthen the effectiveness of nonprofits engaged in youth organizing and to prepare and expand the pipeline of young leaders of color running grassroots social justice campaigns. This collaborative funder initiative partners with 25 nonprofit organizations, which all received multi-year Unrestricted Operating Support and participate in a peer learning community. The initiative also includes a funder learning community and an external evaluation partner. We look forward to sharing the collective learnings from this initiative in order to inform potential next steps. For more information on the Youth Organizing Capacity Building Initiative, click here.
John W. Mack Movement Building Fellows Program
Areas of Special Interest
The Weingart Foundation supports nonprofit organizations working on a range of issues that advance racial and socioeconomic justice across our five-county service area including Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura counties. The Foundation has also identified several Areas of Special Interest. In these Areas, we strategically apply all our tools (grants, P.R.I.s, leadership, and communications) to implement proactive and collaborative strategies to build towards racial and socioeconomic justice.
Our geographically based Areas of Special Interest are the historically under-resourced communities of South Los Angeles and Southeast Los Angeles. Our issue-based Areas of Special Interest are: Housing Justice, Immigrant/Refugee Rights and Integration, and Strengthening Nonprofit Effectiveness. This year, the Foundation will also conduct a comprehensive review of our strategy and programming in the Geographic Areas of Special Interest to help inform our future strategies and approach. For more information on our Areas of Special Interest, click here.
Leadership in the Sector
The Weingart Foundation continues to use our voice, influence, and resources to build a shared vision of equity that advances racial and socioeconomic justice for all Southern Californians. Through initiatives like the Committee for Greater L.A. and Bold Vision, the Foundation strengthens networks of private and public sector organizations and activists who are serious about systemic change. Additionally, we lead efforts to ensure nonprofits are equitably funded so that they have the unrestricted resources needed to strengthen their capacities and make long-lasting change. For more information about how use our leadership to advance justice, click here.
Grantmaking & P.R.I. Process
The Foundation will continue to use an invitation-only process in order to expedite funds to partners that are strongly aligned with our focus areas. We will also continue the shortened and streamlined grantmaking processes that we started last year, and advocate among our peers for trust-based philanthropy. These changes were informed by conversations with nonprofit partners, and we welcome more feedback as we continue to implement this approach.
While we do not accept unsolicited requests for funding, we welcome communication with nonprofits in order to inform and strengthen our strategies. Please feel free to contact one of our program officers with any questions, and to sign up for our newsletter for updates.
The Weingart Foundation partners with communities across Southern California to advance racial, social, and economic justice for all. We aim to support and grow a dynamic and effective social change sector in Southern California that is creating equitable systems and structures needed to achieve justice.
For more information on our values and practices, click here.