Together for justice

Grants & Impact Investing

Weingart Foundation

F.Y. 2021 Program Plan

Message from Fred Ali, President & CEO

Announcing the Weingart Foundation’s F.Y. 2021 Program Plan

July 21, 2020

In August 2020, I will begin my 22nd year as the President of the Weingart Foundation—and the work has never been harder.

Simply stated, we had too much inequality and injustice before the pandemic, and now we have more. COVID-19 has put deep-rooted structural racism on full display, and the disproportionate impact of the crisis on our most vulnerable and marginalized communities has been devastating.

Simultaneously, the growing and potentially transformative movements around Black lives and racial and socioeconomic justice are creating historic opportunities for change. We stand with communities powerfully advocating for change and will continue to use our voice to advance racial equity and justice. It is also important that we act with humility and center the voices of communities of color—including youth—in everything we do. We pledge to use our privilege, resources, and influence to address structural and systemic issues, and to deeply invest in and follow the leadership of impacted communities.

The Foundation’s immediate response to the pandemic focused on providing emergency response funding, providing direct assistance to individuals. We quickly and strategically made over $2 million in emergency response grants throughout our service area, and sought the advice of our nonprofit partners for a longer-term effort. Not surprisingly, nonprofit leaders stressed the importance of unrestricted, multi-year operating support. We also helped initiate a cross-sectoral planning process designed to ensure a just recovery and advance systemic change, and maintained our support for Bold Vision 2028, an ambitious initiative focused on youth of color.

In the current fiscal year, which started July 1, we will focus on nonprofits’ longer-term needs. Our F.Y. 2021 Program Plan outlines our goal to distribute over $20 million in Unrestricted Operating Support grants to core partners in order to help them maintain and strengthen capacity and—most importantly—to build power. We will also allocate additional resources to make program related investments, maintain flexibility to respond to emerging needs, and sustain our Youth Organizing and John W. Mack Fellows programs. The Foundation will continue to target resources to the historically underfunded communities of South Los Angeles and Southeast Los Angeles, and to the issue areas of Immigrant/Refugee Rights, Housing and Homelessness, and Nonprofit Effectiveness. Cutting across all of our grantmaking and program investments will be a focus on addressing the structural racism and socioeconomic injustice exposed by this crisis.

A just recovery must move resources and power to the most vulnerable and marginalized in our society, and it will require that we change the systems that are no longer working. This is no easy task, but real change is both necessary and possible. We look forward to working with our partners to advance the vision of a caring, safe, and thriving society through this crisis and beyond.

Fred Ali signature
Fred Ali
President & CEO

NOTE: The Weingart Foundation will be hosting a webinar in September to walk through the F.Y. 2021 Program Plan and answer your questions. More information will be coming soon.

 

Introduction

The Weingart Foundation’s F.Y. 2021 Program Plan prioritizes our ongoing commitments to developing strong and sustainable nonprofits that advance racial, social, and economic justice. Our planning assumptions highlight the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on communities of color, and our program strategies focus on the critical role nonprofit organizations will play in recovery efforts.

Most importantly, the Foundation recognizes the need to address profound systems and structural inequities that have been exposed by the pandemic and by the recent uprisings. We commit to sustained support to address racism in all forms—with a focus on anti-Black racism—and to invest in long-term community power building. Ultimately, our focus will be on addressing structural racism and socioeconomic injustice, including ableism, across all of our work.

Planning assumptions:

  • The COVID-19 crisis is exacerbating deep-rooted racial, social, and economic disparities.
  • Low-income communities of color will disproportionately bear the impact of the crisis, resulting in critical service needs.
  • Responses to such crises are often broad and do not take into account root causes of these disparities, leaving vulnerable communities behind.
  • The crisis provides an opportunity to organize around and advocate for long-term systems change to achieve social justice.
  • Nonprofit organizations will need flexible dollars and targeted support to sustain organizational infrastructure and capacity to respond effectively.

While Unrestricted Operating Support (U.O.S.) is always important, in times of crisis it becomes even more critical. During F.Y. 2021, U.O.S. will become our primary strategy for supporting our nonprofit partners. We will distribute $20 million in U.O.S. grants to core partners to maintain and strengthen capacity and—most importantly—to build power. This represents an increase from previous years, as we maximize the level of flexible dollars awarded in this challenging time. We trust our nonprofit leaders to use this funding to respond effectively to the organizational challenges and community needs that have been magnified by the COVID-19 crisis.

In order to expedite unrestricted funding to current and recent grantees, and minimize the requirements associated with normal application processes, we have made some important changes. The Foundation has suspended our practice of accepting unsolicited grant proposals, and instead will use an invitation-only process and significantly shorten and streamline application requirements. These changes were informed by conversations with nonprofit partners and we are grateful for the important and actionable feedback we received.

We will also maintain flexibility to respond to emerging needs through our Strategic Opportunity Fund, and provide loans through our Program Related Investment Fund. Following a very successful inaugural year, our Youth Organizing and the John W. Mack Fellows programs will continue. As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, these initiatives have been modified to work in a virtual environment. The Foundation will also maintain our special focus on South Los Angeles, Southeast Los Angeles, Immigrant/Refugee Rights and Integration, Housing and Homelessness, and Strengthening Nonprofit Effectiveness.

Our commitment to equity requires that all of our policies and practices align with our focus on advancing fairness, inclusion, and opportunity. Just as our grantmaking has evolved because of this commitment, we have also significantly adjusted our investment and financial strategies, as well as our administrative practices. We have significantly increased mission investments, and we are excluding investments in areas like firearms, tobacco, private prisons, and activity that harms the environment. Similarly, our board development, hiring, and selection of vendors reflect our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

As the Foundation continues to monitor developments, our strategies may be adjusted over the course of the year in order to better support our nonprofit partners and the communities they serve. Please see below for additional information on our F.Y. 2021 Program Strategies.

 

Grants and P.R.I.s

Unrestricted Operating Support

The Foundation maintains Unrestricted Operating Support (U.O.S.) as our primary grant strategy. Our goal is to strengthen the long-term capacity and effectiveness of nonprofits and collaboratives advancing racial, social and economic justice. U.O.S. supports organizations providing critical services and building power for systems change in impacted communities of color. In F.Y. 2021, U.O.S. will be our main strategy for supporting nonprofit partners who must maintain essential infrastructure to effectively respond to the COVID-19 crisis. For more information, click here.

Program Related Investments

We continue to administer a Program-Related Investment (P.R.I.) program that provides below-market, flexible financing to nonprofits for bridge financing, working capital, acquisition and pre-development costs. Our P.R.I.s align with our broader funding framework, priorities, and special areas of interest. For more information, click here.

Strategic Opportunity Fund

We maintain flexibility to respond to special and unforeseen challenges and opportunities through our Strategic Opportunities Fund. This fund prioritizes support for collaborative funding, collective action, and opportunities focused on addressing basic needs and building power in impacted communities of color. It will also prioritize projects that align with the Foundation’s Areas of Special Interest. For more information, click here.

Initiatives

Youth Organizing Capacity Building Initiative

We are starting Year Two of this three-year initiative, which is a joint project among funders to strengthen the effectiveness of nonprofits working to increase the number of young people leading grassroots social justice campaigns. The Initiative partners with 26 nonprofit organizations, which all received multi-year Unrestricted Operating Support and participate in a peer learning community. We look forward to sharing our collective learnings from this initiative.

John W. Mack Fellows Program

This pilot fellowship program aims to strengthen and develop the pipeline of next-generation movement leaders to advance social justice and racial equity work in Southern California. The inaugural cohort consists of 12 fellows. We plan to welcome a new cohort in F.Y. 2021.

Areas of Special Interest

The Weingart Foundation supports nonprofits working on a range of issues that advance racial, social, and economic justice across Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura counties. We place emphasis on areas where we can strategically apply all of our tools (grants, P.R.I.s, and leadership) and proactively look for opportunities to advance goals around 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 and Homelessess, Immigrant/Refugee Rights and Integration, and Strengthening Nonprofit Effectiveness. For more information, click here.

Leadership, Voice, and Influence

Through initiatives like Bold Vision 2028 and the Committee for a Greater Los Angeles, 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. To learn more, click here.

Grantmaking Process

In order to expedite funding to core partners as they respond to the COVID-19 crisis, the Foundation has suspended our practice of accepting unsolicited grant proposals and instead will use an invitation-only process. We will make grants throughout the fiscal year, mainly to recent grantees. In addition, we have significantly shortened our grant application process to further expedite funding and decrease burden on nonprofits.

These changes were informed by conversations with nonprofit partners, and we welcome more feedback as we implement this approach. We continue to commit to timely and transparent communications. Organizations should always feel free to contact us with questions and to sign up for updates via our newsletter.

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.